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1. Debate that began about the future of the Kamenné námestie (“Stone Square”) in Bratislava.
For two years, the Institute for Cultural Policy aims to give architecture and urban planning back the place in culture they lost in the name of technocratic solutions. A victim of the trend from the 1950s is not only the Gothic cathedral with the motorway just six metres away from it, but also the central square of the capital of Slovakia. As Professor Ján M. Bahna wrote in SME (Bratislava): “Cities arise and grow by layering cultural values”. Their return to shaping Bratislava as well as other cities and settlements will determine for a century ahead not only the intensity of the perception of beauty and the care about it, but the preference of the form of public life in Slovakia. We can see it in the last thirty years of unrestrained and uncontrolled development. We hear voices from beyond the grave of passivity: it is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture! Indeed.
2. The next stage of identifying the “blind spots” in the cultural environment.
First, a definition: blind spots are the problems in our cultural policies that we do not see for the mental, fearful and possibly cognitive cataract in the cultural vision of Slovak citizens. This concerns primarily the cultural community who must not become blind, otherwise a new, critical generation will not be able to use them as an excuse. It will soon move from the squares to the positions in the cultural sector. These are the dangerous blind spots:
a) financing nationalist and anti-European magazines, not published a secret sect, hidden somewhere in the mountains, but directly by Matica slovenská and their friends. They receive regular support from public funds granted by the Ministry of Culture, yet with not one word of criticism spoken. Then we wonder why we have the advocates of the “cultural policy” by A. Mach, G. Husáka and their Soviet model by Zhdanov – the cultural community is blind`
b) robbery on the little chunk of the European funds in the cultural sector, because the Ministry of Culture was not able to prepare projects well in advance. The most recent victim is Kunsthalle, or the Jurkovič’s heating plant, a national landmark, by te way, converted to office space, we are losing these because of our blindness and indifference`
c) the return of cultural policy to ethnographic lyricism which is directly linked to an increase in the presence of political extremism in public life. Cultural community has not got rid of the toxic people who are the carriers of some dangerous old DNA from our past. In contrast, representatives of the Ministry of Culture as politicians support and promote these trends as something traditional and specific. Just be careful, because in the 1990s when the word “specifics” was our, autonomous, our neighbours and the whole of Europe were somewhere else. Today, neo-fascists and isolationists are on the rise all around us. The cultural community can not afford to become introvert`
d) the quality of the lyrics of popular songs counts and not only because the creators receive royalties for them, no matter if the songs are good or bad. Try to rewrite at least one text now widely played in radio broadcasts thanks to the ministerial legislation to promote local songs. Do it, try not to see the fact that some of the poor lyrics are sung by people who have no voice and can not intone. The Czech writer M.Viewegh recommends to rehearse and experience a written text read aloud. In the recent cultural history, lyrics have been a more relevant factor of a song than the music, and songs were written by poets. Today amateurs receive money writing quatrains in a commonplace book. This trend is supported by cultural policy, influenced by lobbying musicians who sing lyrics by poets and in this way to ensure privileged royalties “for ever after” – poets, at least protest if you do not organised subsidised workshop on how not to write lyrics with long vowels on short notes and vice versa.
3. Journal on books and Cultural Life are back in our cultural life, though not in the cultural policy managed by the Ministry of Culture. On the contrary, Ministers of Culture did everything they could to ensure there would be no such a magazine that might want to follow up on the history of the 1960s, when it was a platform of the new, “opportunistic” views of the cultural community. Maybe they remember how alarmed they were by the Cultural Life (Kultúrny život) in the communist ranks. In the new times some reactionary churchgoers added their bits and after the Velvet Revolution, the newly established magazine was completely banned in quire a non-velvet way. Sadly, The Cultural Life will struggle to survive without more support from the Ministry of Culture, which now has increased its support for Literary Biweekly (Literárny dvojtýždenník), a forgettable magazine for the 1968ers where they pour out their aching souls on paper, because they failed to restore totalitarian “socialism with a human face”. The Cultural Life can only exist because of the successful journal about books as a supplement to the SME daily. Nothing more, nothing less. And also because the people of the cultural community in Slovakia are not interested in investing every week in a journal of their own, or even write their ideas and essays in it, since its just enough to spend some energy on social networks with a few sentences unprintable in the journal – but after fifty years there will be nothing left of you on the Internet, my dear friends!
4. We are in the middle of the cultural war for our future but the Sun is shining, the planes fly to Hurghada, cafes are crowded, who would deal with any dangers or risks if they are not imminent. Here and there you will hear a one-two personalities literature, but most graduates of humanistic subjects not thereby give clear evidence for those who claim to be redundant. No need to wonder, that the main theme of cultural match is sex, strongest and most natural human instinct, which extinguished even in concentration camps. On the one hand, we learn of the abuse of minors and addicted by the powerful – and men and women, on the other, the cohort of supporters for the family and the right to strike weaker arrayed under new banners old tradition. Not that we did not know about before, or at least did not know, but today the “battle” field became media, especially tabloid. Therefore, the merciless struggle became the problem of cultural policy. Artists and creative modern part of country’s population in cities shakes his head, religious procession led by priests, as if cut out of the past century, in the country are not considered losers. And how does our cultural policy respond? – if you know, please write us, we found nothing. But perhapsit is because we are blind at the ICP. .
5. … got any more?
In late 1990s, Karol Spišák, the director of Nitra, attended a theater festival somewhere abroad. He met with a cultural community in the country who asked him where he came from. From Slovakia, he said proudly. Slow, slow … from Ljubljana? The first one asked. No, Karol replied condescendingly, it is Slo-va-ki-a, he stressed. BELGRADE? Another one asked . No, S-L-O-V-A-K-I-A, Karol spoke up. I have never heard of that, sadly added the third. Slovakia! Karol got furious. – Prague!! Oh yes, clear, great … Menzel, Hrabal, Kundera …., Havel, clear. The cultural folks lightened up . Continue reading