Paloma Braunová: A medieval feminist
Barbora Zelní?ková aka Paloma Braunová aka Ticho de Beige. Three identities that coalesce in a multi-facetted creative personality who is active in art, music, fashion design (although she would reather prefer “craftsmaking”). Paloma/Barbora/Ticho lives in Prague and aside from her own creations, is also active in theatre as a scenographer and co-runs a gallery/studio space City Surfer. Her design work focuses on accessories made in earthy colours from natural materials (with slightly medieval feel to it), her music oscillates between acoustic and electronic. Her next event is ODRAZit, a week-long fashion event at City Surfer scheduled for April.
How did your alter ego Paloma Braunová come about?
I use this name for my fashion work. When I have an exhibition, I do it under my civic name. I have the feeling that I need to present myself under my own name in this context. Paloma Braunová is more for the label.
Brown as a colour has been something I’ve been fascinated with for a long time. It usually denotes something ugly, but we like it. Various people gave me various names over the time, and I actually was thinking about changing my surname to Braunová. Also, I didn’t want to use my real name on Facebook so that my school classmates couldn‘t find me and try to befriend me. I came across Paloma on a Brasilian street fashion blog and also, the connection between Paloma (dove) and the colour brown is quite odd.
Why are you fascinated by earthy colours?
At high school, we were talking about how everything is brown and then everything that was not nice was brown, it was an internal theatre terminology and now it became more wide-spread. Also, all those bright colours in rave bore me and I started to see darker, earthy colours as something positive. The elemental colours of the earth – brown, green, blue. I also work with natural materials in fashion – and these are also brown.
You also mention Middle Ages as one of your inspirations.
It is a “brown age” of sorts. My grandmother, who was always very peculiar, used to say that we come from a family of knights from Trnávka. My grandfather comes from a family of blacksmiths. I would frequent his workshop when I was small and make something. I’m into history and this is also connected to my grandad. It was a tough, hard period, and I have translated this roughness into my music, too.
Sometimes it’s simply through sound, it’s always a struggle in terms of content. But the strings of guitar are also made of metal. This delicacy and hardness coalesces in music. For instance my song „Hradná“ best expresses what I’d like to say. It’s about girls with chains. A sort of latent feminism – of a third degree.
Today is the International Women’s Day. Do you feel we still need feminism?
I think it’s too soon to embrace post-feminism. At least in this country.
For instance fashion is traditionally perceived as the domain of women, and music as of men. You are active in both of these fields. Do you get annoyed by these distinctions?
It disturbs me. I cannot become part of the fashion community because I hate it, since it still operates within the old order. It’s a strange distinction though. I mostly create stuff for women but because I am a woman and I know the feeling of being a woman and that’s what I work with. I don’t see my apparel as conditioned by a traditional fashion female principle. It is very much intuitive from the woman’s point of view – the essence one!
As for music, once I was offered a music deal with a promise that I would get famous. Then I realized that I might lose my voice after three days of being on tour. I would have to stop drinking and change my way of life. I don’t know what it is to be part of the music system. We are on the periphery here anyway, so it’s hard to imagine.
I am doing both not according to some rules, which I don’t even know. I do it because I simply have to!
What is your main thing at the moment considering you are active in several fields such as music, theatre and fashion?
It’s difficult to eliminate any of the things I do, since all of them come together at some point. For instance I do an exhibition and make a song for it or create horse belts and write a song about horses. I want to focus on music and fashion at the moment, and also scenography, that’s very important to me. I’m a sort of polytechnic – cannot live without any of these things. I wake up at night and think about what kind of belts or jewels I could make and then make a track.
You are also part of the music and art collective City Surfer active here in Prague.
There are five of us doing it – Max Dvo?ák, Jonáš Ros?lek, Anežka Svobodová and Mariana Dvo?áková. We organize exhibitions and also use the space as a studio and do several things like music, graphics, fashion, scenography, videos and so on. Our next April event that I co-organize with three other designers – Kristýna Jakoby Jav?rková, Janja Proki?, Hana Frišonsová and video maker Bet Orten – is Odrazit #2, a week-long fashion presentation and sale. I also want to do a record with Fremeni in the close future. I will sing, they will make stuff on the computer and I will sit behind and tell them what I like or dislike. It will be emotional and very slow, soulful, R’n’B hip hop kind of stuff. I am just excited!
It’s quite interesting that you are attracted by all these earthy colours and nature and live in a city.
I’m not even sure why I do. I moved here so I would keep in touch with what’s happening. I feel that one day I will run away – not to Germany or something, but to the countryside. That’s my dream actually, to have horses and live in the country.
Published March 14, 2012.