M. J. “Jo” Williams

staff, production, translation




Jo Williams


Hermit Foundation


Plasy Monastery

_"The first time I went to Plasy, I got lost. My friend drove from Prague, and I navigated, poorly, landing us off-course on a narrow road in pitch-dark woods. After we found our way, and parked in the gravel driveway, we then couldn’t get in. We knocked on the back door. We wandered around the oversized Prelature, looking for an entrance. There were no signs, no directions. I think we eventually spied people in the kitchen and gestured, maybe banged on the windows. I was expected, and we were welcomed inside and to that evening’s event, the projected light installation by the German artist Claudia Wismann, Night Falls Light Falls. That was probably fall of 1995 or 1996. Since I arrived, unexpectedly, with a friend, there was some improvisation around sleeping arrangements, and after the projection, he and I stayed at the dorms off-site. Miloš Vojtěchovský had invited me. We worked together at the National Gallery in Prague at the time. I had translated his essay for the Meridian Crossings catalogue into English before then, had heard about Hermit’s symposia, but had never been to Plasy.

_A year or so later, he asked me to work with him, Martina Tomášková, Karel Sidorjak, Ivo Kornatovský and Jiří Kornatovský. We agreed the Center for Metamedia, as it was then also called, could be used year-round for artist residencies, in addition to its symposia. Together, we invited artists to live and work for longer periods, all while holding workshops, symposia, festivals, exhibitions, publishing catalogues, arranging recordings, mounting a website, all guided by Miloš’s subtle leadership. The dates are hazy, but I believe I worked with the project from 1997 until it ended in 1999, having moved into the Prelature that summer after being evicted in Prague.

_Getting lost, re-navigating, figuring out how to get in, relying on others, improvising. That first visit featured many of the experiences Hermit offered artists, as well as visitors. It – the space, the context, the project – was humbling, undirected, by design. Not to be cruel, but because of what might result."

M.J. Williams, 2017 (revised, 2022)

M.J. “Jo” Williams worked with the Hermit Foundation/Center for Metamedia-Plasy from 1997-99. After leaving the Czech Republic in 1999, she continued to work in the arts in the United States. In the mid-2000s she went to law school in New York City, where she currently lives, supporting artists with intellectual property matters and journalists with obtaining law enforcement records via freedom of information law, as a partner with Wissing Miller LLP. M.J. also organizes for police, jail, and prison abolition and serves on advisory boards for the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and the Center for NuLeadership on Human Justice & Healing.