Writing my grandparents’ friends in France for the first time, I opened my letter with the salutation ”Honore Monsigneur et Madame,” a phrase recommended by an old textbook. It sounded polite and sophisticated, perfectly in line with the impression I wanted to make. But when I visited ”Uncle Lojzík and Aunt Paulette” a few months later, all pretensions were quickly gone and replaced by a deep admiration and an informal address. One day sitting in the garden, Uncle Lojzík was telling me about the adventures in which he and my grandfather took part during their school years. Suddenly, he looked at me and said: ”Do you see why you can’t call me ‘Monsigneur’?”

My salutation was out of focus just like my first photographs which became a lasting target of comments of my family. My parents wanted me to take ‘nice pictures’ by which they meant themselves in the front and a distinctive building in the back. It was hard to explain why I was so stubborn about leaves in the slop, caterpillar in the mud or garbage among dandelions.

Learning to focus is a continuous process, which I think never really ends. It is shaped by the opinions of others and transformed by the will to do it in a new way. According to the two preceding real life stories, this aim can often end off focus, not to mention that it can be hard to put through.

As to the pictures in this exhibition, they were mostly taken during my stay in the US in 1999-2000 with an old Zenit camera, usually on Kodak or Fuji films. (I apologize to the experts, but this is about all the technical information I’m able to produce.) Finally, I would like to dedicate ”Learning To Focus” to Mrs. Paulette Kling and her late husband as an acknowledgement of the love and kindness which I, like many others, found in their house.


Petra Melicharová

Brno, August 17, 2001