PROJECTS

BRATISLAVA – KOŠICE / back and forth (2020) 

 

Robert Fico, ex-Prime Minister of Slovak Republic spoke about illusory motorway D1 in 2007. He said that it will connect western and eastern Slovakia by 2010. It has never happened.

I couldn´t help myself but wonder, what it would be, if it worked out. Whether the motorway delete or at least eliminate the differences between slovak regions and Bratislava as the capital of Slovakia. How would people think, what would they do and how would they perceive the country they live in. Would they understand Slovakia the same way as they did nowadays? Would be Bratislava stop pretend to be a small state in the big one? On the Bratislava-Košice trainline, I watch the country, people and situation. I  am actually looking for the definition of what it means to be Slovak.

In my opinion, it could only be understood if I knew the country I lived in. Slovakia has changed a lot over the last two years, we have made very important steps through the incidents that happened. First of all, it was the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová that moved the country forward. The killing led to widespread anti-corruption protests that forced then-Prime Minister Robert Fico and the country’s chief of police to step down. On the other hand it brought the rise of extreme nationalism and hatred against minorities and ethnic groups.

My previous projects have been dealing with the issue of false and empty self-determination of Slovaks. Bratislava- Košice (back and forth) shows Slovakia in a portrait series. My goal is to show the people who embody all those already mentioned events. They are bitterly sad, sometimes smiling, but still a little crooked.The radial from west to east offered me to capture people in their natural environment, not situationally, but rather story-like. These are not moments that once happen and then disappear. Each of them carry its own story with a reference to the past and a transition to the future.

The project Bratislava-Košice (back and forth) is the big portrait of Slovakia, which I composed from many significant moments. If someone asked me how many hours I have spent in the car, I would answer that I have no idea. It was a  lot.

(selection of photos)
 

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Chairman of Voluntary Fire Department. Budča, Slovakia, 2019
 

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Car accident. Žilina, Slovakia, 2018
 

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Robert Fico. He joined the Communist Party of Slovakia in 1987. Member of National Council of the Slovak Republic, served as a Prime Minister of Slovakia (2006-2010, 2012-2018). He has been the leader of left-wing political party SMER-social democracy. He had to resign after weeks of public protests over the slaying  of a journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírova in 2018. International Women Day, Nitra, Slovakia, 24th of February 2020
 

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Celebrating of International Women Day organized by political party SMER. Women pensioners are applauding to Robert Fico. Trnava, Slovakia, 10th fo March 2015
 

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Katarína Macháčková, Mayor of Prievidza. Prievidza, Slovakia 2015
 

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There was an incident in Važec village in december 2019. It has occured between Roma boys and non-Roma girl. It had started a battle between the families of the children, Jožko ended up with a broken head and emotional trauma. The nationalist party ĽSNS abused the conflict for its own propaganda. Važec, Slovakia. 14th of January 2020
 

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Proud of the Family March. A young, good-looking couple wearing the logos of the nationalist party ĽSNS. Until the 2020 parliamentary election, the party had the image of a skinhead party elected by either marginalized radicals or frustrated young protesters. Crowds of Kotleba voters are expanded by women and elderly. The number of people with an university degree has also doubled, although this group is still below average. Bratislava, Slovakia. 5th of April, 2020
 

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Protests “Stand up for Descent Slovakia” have been supported by thousands of people and personalities. In addition, Slovaks have asked the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová to be investigated. Other demand was to take all the political responsibility of Robert Fico and other members of his government for situation that had occurred. The protests were the largest ones since the times of Velvet Revolution in 1989. Bratislava, Slovakia, 6th of April 2018
 

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Juraj Bágeľ alias Silverman. Bratislava, Slovakia, 2016
 

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Highway construction Hubová-Ivachnová section. According to the statement of the Prime Minister Robert Fico from 2007, the completion of the highway connection between Bratislava and Košice by the northern route by will be done till 2010. However, it has not been completed till today. Slovakia is the only country in the EU that has not connected its two largest cities by motorway. Hubová – Ivachnová, Slovakia, 18th of September 2019
 

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Patrik Magdoško stands for Farmer´s Initiative, which covers small and medium-sized farmers from all over Slovakia. By protesting action from Michalovce to Bratislava, farmers want to appeal to a speedy solution to their dragging problems, which they sum up in the Košická výzva (Kosice call). They consider as crucial to set up a specialized investigation team to investigate cases of oppressed farmers, as well as to ensure that the Agricultural Paying Agency pays a subsidy only to an entity that has a legal relationship with the land. They also consider the creation of fair and transparent land allocation rules to be key. Bratislava, Slovakia, 20th of February 2019
 

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Governments around the world are taking exceptional action on the emerging new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Their goal is to slow the spread of the disease so that hospitals are not overloaded, which could lead to preventable deaths. Most of the above restrictions have been adopted since 16 March 2020. It was announced that the restrictions should last for 14 days. Prime Minister Igor Matovic announces the duration of 6 to 7 weeks. Some measures (ban on collective actions) are approved indefinitely. Bratislva, Slovakia, 20th of March 2020
 
 
 
 
EUROPE (2018)

i was born in socialist Czechoslovakia, behind the Iron Curtain. My first memory of Europe is from 1990. I was ten years old and after the borders opened we went shopping to the neighbouring Austria. And there they were. All those things that were unattainable before – Lego kits, Walkmans, colourful clothes.  I was completely spellbound. Only one thing didn’t sit well with me in this new world. Those “Slovaks, do not steal!” signs.

Today, after almost thirty years, we are already a part of that great Europe. And we feel right at home here, just a car ride away from everything.  But in the same way, as Austrians were afraid of us back then, now we are the ones afraid of newcomers and outlanders. And we are the ones to call for new borders, iron curtains, to seclude ourselves from the foreign threats endangering us, Europeans.

The blissful feeling of belonging to this magical land called Europe keeps getting disturbed only by signs in small forests around the Austrian border: “Do not litter!” In Slovak, not German. It is these subtle idiosyncrasies, disrupting the notions we have about ourselves, as well as about the world around us, that are of interest to me

(selection of photos)
 
 

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HOMELAND (2016)

homeland is a project about nationalism in us all. Although it could be understood as a portrait of a decaying society or as a cycle about the search for national identity. It does not have the look of a traditional document, it is more of a series of visual representations of current societal moods – fear, anger, disillusion and hopelessness.

In his photographs, Boris Németh steers clear of verbatim reporting and straightforwardness, purging them of perfunctory metaphors or easily deciphered stories. If present, an individual remains undefined. Usually, the picture is taken from afar; the face turned away from the lens or the individual isolated in bizarre surroundings. The individual gets changed to a symbol of a human oppressed by the system, blending into the crowd or voluntarily leaving society.

Also, his still life works incorporate images of a dysfunctional system, portents of intensifying manifestations of extremism and distortion of patriotic thinking. The traditional Slovak symbol – Jánošík, suddenly appears only as an empty mould to be filled with any fable customised to our will. Even a fly agaric mushroom in the middle of a drained swimming pool is only an artificial parasitic element.

The opinion poll results – A Euro-barometer survey from autumn 2015 – implies that among European countries, Slovak people have the least understanding of coexistence with groups with a different religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The increasing demonstration of xenophobia and radical right-wing opinions only serve as confirmation of these results. When did we stop being the famed nation of hospitality? And have we ever been?   Homeland aims not to preach but rather to unsettle, to disturb. That just might be the road leading to discussion and to the answer to the question unwittingly evoked by the ultimate photograph in the catalogue: Who and what can ever coexist within one homeland?

Michaela Pašteková

(selection of photos)

 

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FROM A LIFE OF A COUNTRY (2015)

since 2007 I have travelled through towns and the countryside, attended folklore and music festivals, political protests, religious celebrations, pilgrimages and air shows. I don’t photograph them in purely documentary way. My chronicle is not supposed to be factual, history does not flow linearly. I like to capture fragments of stories – often very bizarre, ironic, tragicomic, which tell much more about the life of the country than the “official” portrait of “Slovakia – little big country” with its beautiful nature and kind people. Sometimes things are different and more complex than they might seem to be like on the first or even second sigh

(selection of photos)

 

 

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SLOVAKIA IM LOVIN IT (2011)

In form of paradoxes and subtle shades of meaning this project makes a statement about Slovakia. The product and at the same time the victim of the social transformation after 1989.

 

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THE DICTIONARY DOCUMENT (2009)

in my cycle I use short definitions as brought by the English explanatory dictionary. These text definitions gives the pictures entirely new meanings and generalizations, which would remain undiscovered in traditional presentation form
 
 

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Your Partner is the person you are married to or are having a romantic or sexual relationship with
 
 

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A Telephonist is someone who works at a telephone exchange or whose job is to answer the telephone for a business or other organization
 
 

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The Mayor is a person at the head of a town goverment
 
 

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A Bride is a woman who is getting married or who has just got married

 
 

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An Animal is a living creature such as a dog, lion or rabbit
 
 

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A Planet is a large round object in space that moves around star

 
 

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A Fireman is a person (ussualy a man) whose job is to put out fires

 
 

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A Cleaner is someone whose job is to clean a particular type of things

 
 
 
 

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