Petra and I have friends in common. We met at a brazilian restaurant in South London before going to a typical English pub. Another typical thing happened that night. Men were talking together on one side of the table while Petra and I chatted on ours. Although this is not something I usually enjoy, I’m glad it happened this way because I got to know Petra deeper than the surface.
She told me about her paintings, about her life in London after moving from Prague. So I told her about my photo project and she kindly accepted to take part. We met again at Somerset house later this autumn, where she gave me her answers to what she believes in.
There’s a saying in French that goes “avoir la tête sur les épaules”, which literally translates as “having your head on the shoulders”. That really came to me as I listened to Petra. The woman with her head screwed on right.
The real difference is in the pressure we face
What does trust mean to you?
Petra - I guess trust is the basis of any relationship. I mean, I start a friendship on the assumption that I can at least partially trust a person. That’s how a civilization works. There are certain rules that everybody observes. And especially in a relationship, trust is the core of things. If it’s not there, what’s the point of continuing?
What does it mean to be a woman?
Petra - I’m not a typical woman. I don’t follow all the rules. Apart from the obvious physical distinction, I’d say it’s about the pressure of society, which is different for a man. There are different pressure points. Women are expected to be beautiful and to want children. It’s not for everybody but the pressure is there. I find that to would be the main distinction between a man and a woman. Everybody can do what they want. They can look like a man but feel like a woman and vice versa. The real difference is in the pressure we face.
Is there anything you hide from yourself? Or from others?
Petra - I guess I’m quite honest… I do have a hobby which is painting. I feel very sensitive about that. I select people who I tell about it. I never show anybody before it’s finished because I feel very self-conscious about it. That’s the sort of things I like to show but at the same time, I prefer to hide it. Because if somebody was being negative about it, I’m afraid I would take it too personally. So that’s one thing I’m a bit careful about. Otherwise I’m still not sure what I want to do with my career and I hide answering the tough questions… Even after I’m 30, I’m still not sure. I’m not ready to seriously work on it. Maybe next year!
Do you believe in anything?
Petra - I believe in science. I guess it’s sort of a belief. You can’t verify every single theory and every single paper but you just have to believe that the system works rigorously enough and that somebody else has been checking for you. So, unless proven wrong, it can be considered as, to the best of the current knowledge, the truth. But you have to believe in the system. Science has a pretty good system in place.
What are you grateful for?
Petra - I moved to London four years ago, it was my little project, I always wanted to do that and I did it on my own. I did it with my money. But I always knew that there was a family back home in Prague, and if anything should happen, they would support me, they would help me out. I’m grateful for having this safety net, that not everybody has. I feel like I was fortunate to have parents who were supportive of me moving abroad. I’m definitely grateful for that.