Program 2018

SUNDAY / DEC 9, 2018

Together Against Hatred [sk/en]
panel discussion on interreligious dialogue

Moderator: Mário Nicolini
Mohamad Safwan Hasna - Muslim imam
Ondrej Prostredník - Protestant priest
Félix Mária - Catholic priest and monk

Quite a few extremist groups use religious slogans (e.g. "For God, for nation!") in order to gain legitimity. Most of the clergy of various world religions, however, disapprove of these voices. The aim of discussion is to draw attention to common denominators of three monoteistic religions, which can form the base for sensitive and diverse society, putting emphasis on tolerance and respect. The discussion aims to reflect escalating hatred towards the otherness, which stems from ignorance, fear and stereotypes. 

In the discussion, borders between politics, religion and faith will be outlined as well as issues concerning human rights and selected religious customs and perspectives on marriage, sexuality and education will be re-considered. In the context of democracy and freedom of speech, representation and abuse of religious symbols and figures in public space will be discussed as well.

Robo Švarc & Šimon Chovan: Passing Observer
multimedia installation 

Passing Observer confronts the elements of violence in public space with the elements of legal positivism. Human being, as a pedestrian in social environment, is exposed to the presence of latent violence on a daily basis. Opposed to this fact, one can also be aware (or even unaware) of his or her basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The relationship between protection of personal integrity and individual rights (and obligations) co-creates a dynamic structure of democracy. Democratisation of society goes hand in hand with positivisation of the law. Current European constitutions have a solid base, which calls for being protected these days. As we know from the past - caricature of legal positivism inevitably leads to de-democratisation of society.

concert (7

British singer and musician of Eritrean origin, Alxndr London, is an avant-garde R'n'B star and afropunk performer. In 2016, he was on the list of "emerging artists" of British Radio 1. His latest EP 2023, which was released under the label The Spectacular Empire of ghetto-futuristic musician Gaiko. London, in his work, blends the elements of afro-futurism and the London ghetto scene and works with references to the African diaspora, whose representatives have been uprooted, now attempting to re-discover their own tradition.

MONDAY / DEC 10, 2018

14:00 MUSEUM SNP - somewhere around
Adam Engler: Present Perfect Progressive - LUDUS
artistic intervention in public space / International Human Rights Day

The title Present Perfect Progressive carries two radically different interpretations: on one hand, it is a name for grammatical tense structure, and on the other hand, it speaks of the "present", "perfection" and "progress". It emanates inherent continuity and a sense of motion.
Present Perfect Progressive used to frame the installation of three works of art that were created during the author's studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica in 2016-17. They were "ZLOVAKIA" (graphic), "Territory (expectations of hospitality)" (sculpture/object) and "Caricature" (interactive installation). Two of them were shown at the EMBARGO | METROPOLIS Festival 2017.
This year, Present Perfect Progressive frames LUDUS - artistic intervention space on the topic of "statehood". Through playful interaction, the performer will invite passers-by to join the game/play with garrison caps. They were made from paper in a participatory way with kids aged 6-14, who painted state flags on them while playing and talking about peace.
The author chose 191 caps in correspondence with a number of states recognized by the United Nations. All this being done as an act of indirect reference to 'the divided world', which is not finite. Recognizing "statehood" or "sovereignty" of the state depends on various criteria as well as definitions in international law.
Intervention of Adam Engler poses a question about the nature of nation-states - challenging their means of (self-)identification. What can a mere sign evoke? What can a mere symbol evoke in terms of emotions and decisions of citizens, who feel to be part of the so-called national unity, which is, paradoxically, being the ultimate fiction - an effective tool of power? When and where can 'playing' still be part of the game, and when does 'playing' become dangerous?

16:00 AF STAGE
FREIRAUM [en/sk]
project presentation
Goethe Institute, Záhrada, P.A.T. - Temporary Academy of Arts

The project FREIRAUM was initiated by Goethe Institute in 2017, involving 38 local organisations in cooperation with Goethe Institute branches in their respective countries. In Slovakia, it is Záhrada - cultural centre from Banská Bystrica in tandem with Goethe Institut based in Bratislava. These local ooperations have been further paired with tandems from abroad. Záhrada is in tandem with Temporary Academy of Arts (P.A.T.) from Athens.
Both organisations have approached the topic of FREIRAUM in a similar way yet with diverse implications. Before their cooperation started, they raised two research question which were then further elaborated and reflected in their local context through various activities.

SK: How can we exert sustainable and constructive influence on public discourse on the subjects of borders, freedom and democracy?

GR: What are the limits and semblances of the so-called freedom of speech, are there visible and implicit constraints?

The presentation will host key participants in the project from Slovakia and Greece, who will share their findings and challenges in relation to the topic of freedom of speech and democracy in Europe.
Participants: Zuzana Szabóová, Robert Švarc, Milan Zvada, Zuzana Beniačová, Natalia Sartori

16:00 AF STAGE
Hamza Makhchoune: Crossing Eyes and Lands
photography exhibition

A photo exhibition of volunteer from Morocco, who has been given the opportunity to document the artistic and community program of Zahrada - cultural centre in Banská Bystrica within the framework of the Erasmus+ European Voluntary Service project. However, he has not missed other civic, social and political events in Slovakia either. In June 2018, he documented the Slovak's team journey to Athens within the FREIRAUM project. Its purpose was to get a glimpse of another form of democracy, and establish closer cooperation with the local collective of artists and curators from Temporary Academy of Arts (P.A.T.). 
Too, Hamza has visited other European cities within the Schengen zone (Krakow, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Milan). He has managed to capture the beauty of buildings and architecture, seasons, landscapes and portraits of invisible people from the street with their stories. Plus - insects, bees and flowers.
Such a wide range of themes is naturally part of the author's exploratory journey into his own perspectives and life crossroads. Each photo is unique yet sometimes it took too much time to capture it, which always makes choices difficult. The author's distinctive perception of colour in the photos adds to the illusion of a perfect painting; while the viewer gets often surprised by their sharpness, subject matter or detail more than by their composition. Many of the photographs have a strong visual and documentary character; others may be labeled as experimental, mainly based on the camera's technical settings, the use of long exposure, or just the author's persistence in the process of post-production.

18:00 AF STAGE
Ask Your Parents: '68 [sk/en] 
film documentary/discussion
Film Ask Your Parents: 68 is an oral history-based mozaic of emotionally charged stories of common people with catchy visual footage. It is a dynamic illustration/reflection of particular historical period; it is a postcard from 1968, including everything that concern(ed) us all.
A transmedia project serves as a unique living monument to the events, which took place on August 21, 1968 - troops of the Warsaw Pact entering Czechoslovakia. In the form of film documentary, online protal and discussions, the project raises historical events from the history books and stimulates intergenerational dialogue.
Concept: Barbora Berezňáková and Pavlína Morháčová / Director: Barbora Berezňáková / Producer: Známa firma, s.r.o., Co-producer: RTVS, Film Generácia o.z. / duration: 26 min. / Premiere: 21. 08. 2018 

Academy of Arts Theatre: AniMak
devised theatre performance

Cast: Andrea Juhásová, Katarína Gurová, Andrej Polakovič, Adriána Gandžalová, Filip Sirotiar, Katarína Baranyai, Eva Javorská, Pavol Olešňan 

Script: Katarína Vozárová
Concept: Petra Kovalčíková, Katarína Vozárová
Dramaturgy: Katarína Vozárová
Set design: Michal Bugáň
Costumes: Alžbeta Vakulová
Music: This is Kevin
Director: Petra Kovalčíková
Pedagogical supervision: prof. MgA Jan Vedral

"Each of us have their own double-cross."

Thousands of people perform mechanical rituals imposed by civilisation every day. Yet they forgot or have no clue about the original rituals, which used to make sense. Their hearts are sleeping. Will they ever wake up?
The play was devised collectively on the topic of "search for identity in contemporary consumer and multicultural society." Are we living in a world of empty meanings?
The story revolves around an illegitimate child, Jozef Mak, whose behaviour has been determined by his family and social circumstances. Nevertheless, he strives to fit in the world, where noone ever wanted him, and noone waited for him either.

"...he could not be Jano, he should not have been AniMak either "

TUESDAY / DEC 11, 2018

Jonathan Leman & Rado Sloboda: Political Extremisms and Other Challenges of Democracy in Slovakia and Sweden [sk/en] 

Both lecturers have had long-standing experience with monitoring and resisting extremist tendencies in their respective countries - Slovakia and Sweden. From the position of researchers and civil activists, they will present their findings about the rise of extremist movements and their (un)official activities. They will share their perspectives on how extremist movements can best be countered and outline the challenges that Europe is facing in relation to anti-democratic voices in our societies. Lectures will be followed by discussion with the audience.

Jonathan Leman works at Expo Magazine in Sweden where he is head of research and tasked with monitoring organized racism and intolerance. His main focus is documenting neo-nazi and neo-fascist organizations; their propaganda, strategy and criminality. Leman regularly leads workshops and gives lectures about far-right extremism in Sweden and how it can be investigated. For his work Leman was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg price earlier this year.

Rado Sloboda is a civil activist, publicist, moderator, co-owner of the Artforum bookshop in Banská Bystrica and co-founder of civil initiative Not In Our Town. He cooperated on several campaigns and projects aimed at raising public awareness of democratic principles and active citizenship. He has held numerous lectures and workshops on various human rights and minority issues. Currently, he is the head of Amnesty International Slovakia.

Tomáš Rafa: New Nationalism in the Heart of Europe [en/sk]
film projection (50 min, 2017)  /

"Tomáš Rafa is an artist who focuses on current affairs. His artistic tools are a camera and photographic equipment. In situations where crowds of people are gathering in some particular place, Rafa with his technical requisites boards a train, determined to be present. He lives in constant movement: recording, collecting, archiving, he also organises and publishes on the web. His archive entitled New Nationalism in the Heart of Europe (a continuing project since 2009) contains photographs and video reportage of demonstrations, blockades and protests. With his long-term interest in the individual themes, he is achieving the credibility that is important in politically engaged art. Tomáš Rafa's works touch on political events, evoking public discussion in which the author himself participates, both as artist and activist. Ethics in his work play as great a part as aesthetics.
There are no simple answers to those problems of contemporary society which Tomáš Rafa addresses. Art here plays the role of a mirror of social moods; the response is up to the public. Developments in the world show that where the majority is socially apathetic there will be no automatic victory of humanism: intolerance of freedom and diversity may triumph instead. It is important, therefore, to take an active approach and stand up to injustice, whether in terms of spreading information, involving oneself in discussion, or direct intervention."
Lenka Kukurová (curator of the exhibition Paradox of Tolerance at Kunsthalle LAB, Bratislava, 2018)

Europe Today: (New) Democracies or Post-democracy? [sk/en] 
panel discussion 

Moderator: Michal Hvorecký
Andrej Findor - political scientist
Zuzana Mistríková - leader of student movement of November 1989, film producer 
Táňa Sedláková - civil activist, psychologist 

What are the contemporary forms of democracies in Europe? Or - are we living in the era of post-democracy? Why democracy is still a vital concept and why should it be sustained? Are there any possibilities for transformation of contemporary democracies in order to protect them from subversion? 
Two key issues will be discussed:

How to deal with the Popper's Paradox of Tolerance? How shall democracies cope with anti-democratic mindset of extremists, populists and autocrats in a democratic way? What can common people do to protect democracy?

"Paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." 

- Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

Oligarchisation of democracy: politicians need to win the elections. In order to succeed, they hire PR agencies, experts on social media etc. They pay for their services from donations, which are frequently granted by financial groups whose interests are to gain benefits or compromises for their business. 

WEDNESDAY / DEC 12, 2018

Joseph Beuys: "The Mysteries are happening at the Central station" [sk/en]
lecture/film ("Beuys", dir. Andres Veiel, 107 min, Germany, 2017)

In the post-war era, it was Joseph Beuys who, as an artist, was continually and intensively dealing with the issues of human rights, freedom, democracy in relation to globalisation, neoliberalism and ecology. Beuys represents an old but perpetual topic in the discourse of social art. After the Beuys boom in the 90s, during which more than a hundred monographs were published, and his retrospections were shown in renowned museums - in recent years, public interest has declined. In 2013, however, H.P. Riegel made an attempt to fill the empty spot with his extremely critical biography entitled Beuys. The latest contribution to an ongoing "argument" about his work and personality is Andres Veiel's film "Beuys", which was awarded Golden Bear for the best film at Berlinale 2017. The last day of the fifth edition of the Embargo festival will start with film projection, preceded by an introductory lecture delivered by visual artist and curator Robo Švarc.

18:00 ZÁHRADA 
Heroes amongst us: Xenophobia [sk]
"Where do prejudices against foreigners in the Slovak society come from?"
film documentary/discussion

Deep-rooted fear of the other has proved to be a functional tool of manipulation with the public. In the film, we see how politicians abuse the atmosphere of fear and also, how a young Iranian comic turns prejudice and her own negative experience into jokes.

"Slovakia belongs to Slovaks. 68% respondents agreed with the statement."
(source: Public opinion in the field of right-wing extremism, OSF 2012)
"Slovakia is, to some extent, xenophobic. We see it not only in politics but also on social networks through people's comments. I think it's a bit scary to realize how much fear there is. I believe it's important to advertise it, show it, so that we are willing to work with this fear." Barbora Sliepková, režisérka

"Heroes Amongst Us" is a series of film projections for schools and public. Watch and discuss heroism with heroes, directors and experts. You can make a change. We are interested in stories of personal courage; people who managed to stand up against unfair practicies in schools, hospitals or public administration. As opposed to the silent majority, these people took a stand, and despite unfavourable circumstances they did not give up. Thus they have inspired others. They are heroes amongst us. Now we can meet them and talk about the ways how each of us can contribute to the positive social change.

Notes on Freedom (of Speech) & Censorship [sk]
stage reading

Hana Ponická | Peter Karvaš | Václav Havel | Ladislav Novomeský and others

cast Alena Sušilová, Simon Juhász, Samuel Gáfrik
dramaturgy Milan Zvada
director Petra Kovalčíková

The collage of literary and dramatic texts about (in)decisiveness, freedom, arrogance of power, facism, uprisings, conscience, guilt and innocence. About limits of words and actions. About persecution. About us, and the past. And the present.