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