Pavel Matela: Everybody is kind of local

An independent cultural center Farmstudio is located on the territory of the protected landscape area of Kokořínsko in the unique premises of a former farmhouse from the early 19th century in the village of Vysoká. It provides background for creative residencies, symposia, courses, workshops, festivals, art schools, music, theater and dance camps and other activities from the field of contemporary art and live culture. In addition to organizing its own exhibition programs and events, it also offers its premises to other cultural subjects.

How did the idea of restoring a farm arise? What was the initial impulse?

My decision to devote myself to the activities that go beyond the "personal zone" and have a slightly wider meaning is closely tight with the beginning of the project. At the same time, there was a need to create a place for activities that I have been postponing for many years for spatial reasons. And all this ideally outside the town, with the possibility of purposeful physical movement. Although the search for the building took more than 5 years, the choice of a historic farmhouse was finally rather emotional than a rational decision.

Who is Farmstudio designed for?

Farmstudio is open to the activities from the field of so-called marginal culture and lifestyle, i.e. mainly live and experimental art (art, music, performative, etc.). Simultaneously, based on the character of the premises, we focus also on the classical civil engineering (it means classical structural procedures for the reconstruction of the historically valuable objects), including ergo therapeutic stays. We plan to expand our activities to growing and processing unused fruit in the future.

Our targeted alternative and experimental focus is a long-term issue with uncertain results. And establishing a similar project in an object exceeding the lives of its actors can be an inspiring counterpoint.

You are the only contact person on the FarmStudio website. Does this mean that you are the only one responsible for all the dramaturgy, the production of events, the operation and the reconstruction of the farm?

At the moment, it seems so, but fortunately it is not like that entirely. Since January last year, a Farmstudio - a center of art and culture, which is currently in charge of the program of cultural events - has been operating. Some members of the association are also involved in other areas, but basically it’s me who is in charge of all the running of the building (reconstruction, construction) and the association is responsible for the main public events. There are plenty of ideas and concepts, but everything is still entirely at the expense of interested individuals, even financially. Farmstudio is not yet financially self-sufficient and we operate without any subsidies or grants.

Nevertheless, we are still looking for people who would like to cooperate with us, who are able to get hold of the right end of the stick, have good ideas, but can also implement them (dramaturgy and production of events, reconstruction, construction, finance,…). We offer the opportunity to participate in specific matters, that is to say the most demanding but simultaneously most interesting part of a project.

Your association was established a year ago and so far you have realized the majority of the events in the summer and autumn. Do you plan to spread the dramaturgy of the events throughout the year?

With regard to the above mentioned financial and capacity reasons it is a kind of pilot program within which we want to try out the possibilities of self-financing of similar events. In addition, there is a seasonal restriction due to the reconstruction of the building as it is not yet equipped with stationary heating. We are already very close to completing the first phase of the reconstruction allowing year-round operation, but unfortunately as an “investor” I am currently at my limit.

What program are you preparing for this year?

Several interesting events will take place this year, of which the three most important ones include an exhibition of artists selected on the basis of an open competition, a music concert, a performance, a screening of unique 16mm films and an unforgettable sitting by the fire. Furthermore, we are preparing a unique puppet show by Handa Gote Research & Development, a creative workshop by photographer Jindřich Štreit, an international workcamp, etc. We are continuously informing about the program on our website ( and on the Farmstudio's Facebook.

Do you cooperate with cultural institutions in the region (Mělník, Mšené lázně, Roudnice nad Labem…)?

There are several interesting communities and personalities with whom we would like to establish closer contacts in the region. On the ground, we participate on the activities of the Alternativa for Vysoká association. As far as the wider surroundings is concerned, we cooperate with the Home for disabled people Kytlice or with the volunteer organization Tamjdem. Indeed, we are interested in cooperating with other entities in the region, but I would like to remind you that Farmstudio is a cross-regional and international project in the spirit of the idea that everyone in the world is somehow local.

What has recently pleased you in the field of culture?

That there have appeared many activities in the fields of art and culture in general, despite the "stupid mood" caused by the pathological behavior and behavior of people who dominate the public space. I meet new and new great young artists, musicians and other artists.

On the contrary, what has disappointed you?

That the culture is taken for granted and as a "cheap" product by the general public, with the exception of the city´s cultural subculture. This situation is supported by otherwise necessary subsidy and grant models. Furthermore, it seems to me that we talk too much and plan too much instead of doing something specific.

What are your wishes?

Not to fall down anywhere, not to crash with anything, not to be hit by something, etc. Simply, not to be hurt. And more inspiring experiences that would surprise and touch me deeply. Furthermore, I would also like to meet more people that I could respect as natural authorities.