Marie Tučková, Czech artist in residency at the Cité internationale des arts

I think about more than human vocalists, about seemingly less important, less loud voices. We gather to sing, to fight as the ensemble. The song becomes a manifestation.

Marie Tučková is a Czech artist based in Prague. Her work explores polyphony and  what she refers to as “the hierarchy of voices.” She explores this topic in Paris, as part of the Institut français x Cité internationale des arts residency programme

Published on 12/02/2024

5 min

Marie Tučková
Marie Tučková
© Dina J. Salem

As a child you attended the Disman Radio Children!s Ensemble which combined performing, music and vocal training. How influential was that  experience on your later creative practice? 

It’s hard to say. I think there are other factors too. At the ensemble we were introduced to poetry and sound recording. We were making radio programmes and were taught how to  speak. There were certainly encounters with art making. 

The church has also been a big influence, both positive and negative. There were five kids in  my family and when we were little we all went to church. The idea of church and gatherings  and a choir was important to me. I have a real interest in choir and multiple people speaking  or reading and what voices can do together. What is problematic, however, is the patriarchal  hierarchy of the Church and its violent and abusive history and, unfortunately, present. 


In the past you have made use of an alter ego, Ursula Uwe, to help you develop your  "empathy and reflect upon the given problem or situation.” How exactly did she help you, and do you still use her? 

We do not work together actively anymore. The character evolved into a book about seven  sisters that I launched recently with an artist and illustrator Kristina Fingerlandová. It was  inspired by performances I wrote in the last years. The book is based on scripts that were  completed and rewritten last year into a mythological poetic story about the journey of seven  sisters. 


Your recent work has been exploring polyphony and political listening. Could you tell  us about this? 

At the Dutch Institute of Art I studied sound and writing sound in relation to history and how  politics are intertwined with art making. Through reading and gatherings at the school I found  that criticising, speaking and creating through sound and music was the way I could go. 

The polyphony interests me for its non hierarchical aspects. There are several voices and  no leading one. That was how I thought things and people could sound in the living.  Polyphony is also interesting for me as a method to compose with. 


For your latest project, Wet Scores for Listening, you explore the practice of listening  and what you refer to as "the hierarchy of voices.” Can you explain the concept behind the project? 

I relate to myths and stories in a rewritten perspective, learning the listening method in  composition and writing. I work with the theme of hierarchy of voices and non-hierarchical sound by the constant study of the listening method, politics and poetics. In spaces of pause  and apparent silence we hear voices that have been silenced. 

I think about more than human vocalists, about seemingly less important, less loud voices.  We gather to sing, to fight as the ensemble. The song becomes a manifestation. 

They are mostly poly vocal compositions which are recorded by improvising. They are made  by singing and encountering of the voices. One of the songs is called Sirens in Silence. It!s an apology to the sirens who have always been seen as seducers of men. Another is an  improvisational song called Wet Scores, which is a score based on rhythmically walking  through the river and getting drawn into the river in thought and body and voice and a past. 

A lot of the songs are "wet”. Some are more poetic, thinking about the cycle of the live. There are 7 compositions in total. There!s an amazing improvisation by a harpist who I met back in Prague Barbora Váchalová Matějů. There is a cello part by a French/ Dutch composer Alexandra Duvekot and during my residency we worked together with a harpist  from Bretagne Célestine Doedens. 

The idea of an album closes and opens a certain work period. And to open it to other people  if they are interested to listen to it. 

I am also creating drawings to go with the album, which are also called Wet Scores. Scores  has multiple meanings in Czech, as it does in English. 


What response are you hoping to evoke from your audiences? 

I hope to evoke in them a desire to keep resonating. 


How will your residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts help you develop the  project? 

Time and space really helps. I have this period of time when I can focus solely on my work.  I!ve been working on the album for many years and since I!ve been here I have been trying to finalise it. 


What will you be working on once this project is completed? 

I am scoring a performance which should happen in the next year and practicing guitar and  drums. 

L'institut français, LAB