On May 10 – 13th 2012, Trans Europe Halles will host its 73rd biannual meeting at Tabačka Kulturfabrik, a cultural centre located in Košice, Slovakia – a city that lies close to three borders: Hungarian, Ukrainian and Polish. To this day, Košice is home to many different national minorities, including Hungarian, Roma, Ruthenian, Czech and Bulgarian. The border with Ukraine became the external Schengen border in 2007, making movement across it difficult and complicating communication and cooperation among contemporary artists and cultural workers. For Tabačka this is a major issue: despite the will, the centre cannot easily work with their close neighbours.
To address this issue further, cultural actors from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Russia have been invited to participate in a panel debate on Saturday 12th May, entitled Crossing Schengen
. Following the discussion, there will be the launch and brainstorming session of the Crossing Schengen network. Cultural managers from the Robert Bosch Foundation
from all over Europe will also take part in the debate and the meeting. There will be another chance to discuss these topics during the Open Space Day on Friday 11th May. The panel discussion, as well as the entire TEH Meeting 73, will thus be an opportunity to explore possibilities for connecting members of the TEH network and the Bosch network. The cooperation between TEH member Tabačka and K.A.I.R. Košice Artist-in-Residence
, which kick-started exchanges between Košice, Kharkov and Chisinau, is an example of such cooperation but also a step towards overcoming borders.
In 2013, Kosice will be the European Capital of Culture. One of the objectives of this project will be to overcome the anonymity of the city suburbs and to actively involve their inhabitants in local cultural centres, producing a creative environment where new ideas for development and innovation of the city can grow. The project stresses Kosice’s position on the Schengen border and has an ambition to make the city a cultural and artistic exchange point between Eastern and Western Europe. The project further builds on the cultural diversity of the city. This however has its limitations, as can be seen in the segregation in which many Roma communities still exist.
Also in 2013, the Orthodox Jewish community compound, which is Košice's most significant Jewish heritage site, will be reconstructed and inaugurated as the Memorial Museum of Eastern Slovak Jewish Communities. Košice is home of the second largest Jewish community in Slovakia, which has reduced from 11 400 members in 1930 to its current 280 members.
The wide local diversity of cultural influences, observed in Košice is also reflected in a range of languages spoken in the region. The surprise comes when the different linguistic influences like East Slovak dialects, Hungarian, Roma, Ruthenian, Ukranian and German intermix and give rise to a new grammatical forms and expressions that could lead us to the conclusion that Košice has created a language of its own. Thanks to Juliana Sokolova, who grew up in a bilingual Slovak-Hungarian home, we learnt an example of such neologism: “After a game of football, my father’s friends bid one another farewell with the word nemlúčilunk
which takes the Slovak verb for saying goodbye, lúčiť
sa and combines it with Hungarian – nem
for negation and plural verb ending for ‘us’ – neatly expressing ‘we are not saying goodbye’.”
These are precisely the issues that will be discussed at TEH Meeting 73 by more that 100 cultural workers, artists and researchers. Though the meeting’s theme is grounded in Tabačka’s experience and context, the meeting’s programme widens it out to allow the meeting’s participants to explore how the theme of Overcoming Borders resonates with their centres, cultures and circumstances.
KOŠICE 2013 - Európske hlavné mesto kultúry /EHMK/: http://www.kosice2013.sk/en
Košice – Jewish Community Compound: http://www.slovak-jewish-heritage.org
Sokolova, Juliana. 2009. “Letter from … Košice, Slovakia.” The Journal of the German Council on foreign Relations
, no.10: 52-54.