January 2012

Taste and power of the election dices
Europe in a miniature
Who is MUDr. Richard Raši, PhD, MPH
Visual code of Slovak Vojvodina
Hospital as a palace for the infirm
They had to be tough (Part III)
Hybrids of Americanization of the Criminal Law
Why isn’t there a strong right- winged political party in Slovakia?
Who will replace Julia?
Russian route to Orient
What is the way to quality?
A Story of Kazuo Sakamaki
He likes dreaming in the labyrinth of reality
Icons like the Windows to the Heaven
He got over his own limits

Taste and power of the election dices
Everything suggests that SMER-SD will achieve in the March special parliamentary elections at least similar results as in the parliamentary elections in June 2010. That time the party of Robert Fico gained 34.8% of votes and won in 43 election districts (from a total of 50). From Social Democrats and their campaign's point of view it is important what election result will be achieved in districts Bratislava and Senec, where SDKU-DS, the right-wing party of the unpopular Mikulaš Dzurinda, won and especially in Slovak-Hungarian mixed districts such as Galanta, Senica, Komarno and Dunajska Streda, significantly dominated by MOST-HID, the new right-wing party of the career and ethnic Hungarian politician Béla Bugár. His former party, the Party of Hungarian Coalition (SMK), which started openly working with the party FIDESZ (of the Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban), won in the smallest election district of Sturovo.
Election dices have been tossed. Paradoxically they have not been tossed on the political scene by the election agendas of the parties, but by various affairs. Two of them stand out – Euroval, with quiet transformation of the eurozone into a federal state, and Slovak Gorilla. Both of them uncovered the perverted functioning of the financial system and supranational capital, centralization and its influence on the political, economic and social life of the EU and Slovakia. Both are connected to corruption, impunity, political blackmailing, exchanges of governments, eurofunds, decline of small and middle-size businesses, increasing profit of a narrow group of people, poverty increase, decreasing living standards of the majority of EU citizens and Slovakia, protests and street unrests, media manipulations, disappointment and apathy. Both are linked to the moral and spiritual crisis, which ages ago stopped making differences between the left and right in the spoilt Western Europe, between globalists and anti-globalists, Christians and non-Christians, between sympathizers of the federal and confederate European Union.  For example the German-French pressure to establish the „European Monetary Fund“, which would force the EU states to lend money from the European Central Bank to the International Monetary Fund (under US control) and to the alleged „saving of Euro and Eurozone“ fund, is also an immoral „sucking out“ of deficit state budgets and tax-payers (especially through tax increases); as well as the activities of some financial groups in the Slovak heath sector, energy sector, banking (expensive mortgages and consumption loans).
In Slovakia, which since its entry to NATO and the EU has had a minimal impact on development in Europe, the Euroval first divided the right into two camps, and later caused the fall of the right-wing government of Iveta Radičova and led to the upcoming special election. The bigger part of the right, which criticised “Fico's Greek path” in Slovakia, suddenly started to understand the Euroval the same way like Fico's social democrats – as a tool of European solidarity and cohesion. When the bread started to get broken and it was becoming apparent that the Euroval and the further development in the EU with impacts on Slovakia will be also a major topic of the special parliamentary election campaign, the affair Gorilla came out. This, however, has not shaken the Slovak Left, but only the Right. And at the same time also it has unsatisfied and disappointed voters, who have been sent to streets by “someone“ to protest against “gorillas and their system“ and for thorough investigation of the whole affair.
What are anyway the results of the struggle for truth and morality, Right or Left values? More than schizophrenic. Robert Fico, who on one side supports the Euroval (and with it also indebting of Slovakia) and on the other side leads a struggle against price increases, poverty increase, uncontrolled influence of supranational capital and monopolies in Slovakia, is facing a chance of great electoral victory. Richard Sulik's liberal party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), which unmasked the Euroval for the Slovak nation as well as for Brussels, is pushing for a purification of the right-wing parties by removal of long-term and corrupted politicians. Dzurinda's SDKU-DS reached a historical minimum in opinion polls and hangs on just at the threshold of electability for parliament. And the other former coalition and right-wing parties flirt with an idea to form a stable and especially pro-European government with Fico...
Béla Bugár and Ján Figeľ, chairman of the Christian democrats (KDH), had such an opportunity also after election in June 2010. At that time they refused it as they believed the project, “coalition of the right-wing alternative“, wanted to fight against corruption and cronyism, wanted to save in state expenditures and recover Slovak economy, which however showed the highest GDP growth in the EU. At that time Figeľ, who in May 2010 admitted formation of a wide right-left coalition in composition SMER-SD, SDKÚ-DS and KDH took a “manly approach“ only 10 days before election. His indecisiveness was suddenly resolved by information and documents, which were allegedly “about illegal financial proceedings in the party SMER-SD, buying MP mandates, state positions and state procurements“.   At that time Figeľ said: “KDH will do everything for victory of a responsible center-right alternative in the election on June 12th. Towards this goal all our voters and sympathizers are called upon. All who care for healthy development of Slovakia are invited to join the struggle against corruption. For this we offer our experience, courage and responsibility. We offer our agenda as a path for Slovakia, because the path is more than direction [Smer in Slovak]”.
If today KDH is really considering a government with Fico, Mr. Figeľ should explain to Slovaks whether Fico and SMER-SD were really culpable of corruption and illegal financial proceedings. Certain courage should be shown also by the Minister of Interior Daniel Lipšic, a Vice-Chairman of KDH, who has not given up the idea of new surveillance equipment (for Slovak Information Service, Police or KDH?) and maybe knows more not only about the Gorilla affair but also about the secret recording with alleged voice of Fico, which was to be proof of corruption in the party SMER-SD... Was it true or KDH has changed?
Silence and a possible change in positions towards Fico's party should be explained also by Bugár. Not only Slovak voters are curious to hear his opinion, but also those of Hungarian nationality, living in the election districts where two years ago MOST-HID won. Mr. Bugár will not have it easy at all. In the competition with the radical Party of Hungarian Coalition to gain Hungarian voters he may loose votes due to the fall of Radičova's government, due to worsening of the life and social situation of Hungarians in poor regions, also due to „a betrayal of Hungarian interests“ (double citizenship, cooperation with Slovaks). He won't gain votes from Slovak right-wing voters who will decide not to vote or will vote for new “small“ parties. Even though Fico does not like to officially admit, given the current state of the Right in Slovakia, it would be better and more beneficial for SMER-SD to form government by itself in case of high victory.
If SMER-SD wants really to provide “certainties to all people“ in Slovakia, he will have to look for a partner and a support for change of laws which requires the constitutional majority. And from this it will be irrelevant which right-wing party will support its proposals. Current fear-mongering of citizens and voters with a government of one party is therefore unfounded.  If democratic election decides for such a government, such results shall be accepted by everyone. Let us not forget that 100% participation in election would constitute 4,3 million eligible voters.  It is not true that only Bratislava decides about Fico, right-wing and Slovakia.  Most registered voters are in three regions – Košice (610,000), Prešov (609,000) and Nitra (578,000). The Bratislava region is only 5th. If the right wing fails in election, it cannot blame Fico's „stupid and illiterate voters“ in the East or other regions of Western and Central Slovakia. In any case Brussels and the “European government“ will be mostly interested whether Mr. Fico (or another Prime Minister) will submit to all instructions and orders coming to Slovakia from Brussels or whether he will decide to pursue a higher economic and foreign-policy independence in order to advance Slovakia towards economic revival and improvement of living standard.
Róbert Matejovič, editor in chief
Europe in a miniature
“Creative industry will represent the unique competitive advantage and Košice has a chance to become the greatest scientific and artistic centre on the eastern border of EU,” Richard Raši, mayor of Košice city.
Róbert Matejovič
Foto: archive of Košice city, zerozero, Banske stavby, KOPA
Who is MUDr. Richard Raši, PhD, MPH
Mayor of the Košice city and member of Parliament of the Slovak Republic. He was born on 2 April 1971 in Košice. He graduated from the Faculty of medicine of Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, specialised in the field of surgery and trauma surgery. He worked in the Trauma-surgical clinic of Louis Pasteur University Hospital in Košice for 12 years, three years as an assistant director for treatment-preventive care of the surgical departments. In 2004 he obtained Master of Public Health (MPH) at Slovak Medical University in Bratislava and in 2010 PhD at Slovak Technical University of Košice. From March 2007 – May 2008 he was a director of University Hospital in Bratislava. From June 3 2008 – July 8 2010 he was the Minister of Health Care in Slovakia. He is the author of The Non-Smokers Protection Act. He speaks English and Russian, is married and has three daughters. He is not a member of any political party.
PX: Košice, which has an ambition to become a new metropolitan leader on the eastern border of European Union, is eagerly and with joy preparing itself for January 2013. That is when it will become the European Capital of Culture (ECC) together with the French city Marseille. Historically, Košice is the first Slovak city to which the title was conferred by the European Commission and the European Parliament for presenting its cultural life and development to the whole Europe.
PX2: It was Melina Mercouri, the ex-minister of culture in Greece who came up with the idea of bringing European cities together through the project European Capital of Culture which was presented on 13 June 1985 at the European Council. Also this was the reason her beloved Athens became the first title-holder in 1985 under the original name “European City of Culture.”
So far Košice has been the seventh city of central and eastern of Europe from the list of 48 cities (Prague and Krakow were the first in 2000). Initially cities were chosen according to their cultural history, plans for the future and ability to sustain the project financially and by infrastructure. Since 2004 holding the title has been understood as an impulse to cultural development and local changes. The main goals are support of long-lasting sustainable development, building partnerships with other cities, raising up the city’s profile to an international level, changing its image, increasing internal and external tourist traffic and widening horizons of the cultural public.
Mr. Mayor, how are you satisfied with the gradual philosophical and practical transformation of Košice from its predominant industrial orientation into a city of culture and cultural tourism?
We all know that we are distinguished by our high potential of a qualified labor force. In our city there are several universities and colleges, vocational high schools as well as scientific research institutes and workstations. Current trends favor industries generating high value of production while protecting the environment. We have to make an effort to orientate the structure of our economy towards such key segments as for example information technologies, bio-medicine, high-tech materials, nanotechnologies, precision engineering and renewable sources.
By its location and potential Košice is destined to receive investments in these fields. Therefore I can imagine Košice becoming not only the city of culture but also the city of innovations and creativity. Works on preparation of the project ECC 2013 have inspired us to apply for obtaining the title Košice – UNESCOCreativeCity as well as for funds from the EU after 2013 to build the KošiceCreativeCluster. There are more than 5000 people working in the IT sector in our city. Thanks to the project ECC 2013 Košice has a great opportunity to gain the attribute – creativeKošice.
How the city participates and will participate in formation of European culture, how it is going to accentuate the treasure of cultural diversity in Europe?
Košice is an unique representative of European diversity in Slovakia. It is an multicultural, multinational and multiethnical city. No other city in Slovakia is such an accurate representative of European diversity as Košice. Therefore it is natural that the main pillar not only of the city but of the project, too, is support of European culture. Košice is Europe in a miniature, what we underline with pleasure through the project ECC 2013. It is our priority to strengthen and interconnect Košice with European cultural life and with international cultural operators. By this reciprocal communication we create a space for discovering new ways of co-operation. I believe that this will generate new impulses for the local and European cultural scene. In Košice we have special conditions to cross the border of the Schengen zone and widen understanding of European history, identity and culture even beyond these geopolitical borders.
We realize a few activities that directly support European dimension of the city that makes me glad. Firstly there are residential sojourns of artists from all over Europe who come to Košice for a couple of months. Consequently their experience of our city are reflected in their works and it is likely to happen that Košice and eastern Slovakia are found in paintings, installations, songs, poetry or plays in Spanish or French.
Stimulus of creative industry is one of main pillars of the project ECC - Košice 2013. For its successful realization it is important that the widest spectrum of professionals and partners are familiarized with the idea of creative industry. How is this pillar getting promoted?
Successfully. The involvement of professionals and partners into this process helped to create conditions for a functioning creative industry as a potential source of economic growth in the city and region. Beginning last year, we already had some notable events concerning this subject. Probably the most important of them was the conference of prominent European experts for the creative industry.
Following the examples of other European cities and strategies which are used in the cultural and creative industry, we create the space for discussion and co-operation among participating partners, which also serves as the base for development of new projects. We are actively working on creating a long-lasting strategy and activities plan in the field of support to the cultural and creative industry system, setting single objectives and systems of mapping needs. We have already started to think of our future. The creative industry in Košice will represent a unique competitive advantage and there is a chance for Košice to become the greatest scientific and artistic centre on the eastern border of EU.  
Where do you see the main sense and contribution of the project ECC 2013 for Košice and eastern Slovakia? How would you explain simply the philosophy and objectives of the project?
The task of the project is to create such an ambiance that will be friendly for talented people, will support their creativeness and progress of new thoughts and will apply them into reality. The project moves culture into the educational and informative position and gives people living in Košice the possibility to express their European belonging, to understand it and export it to the whole Europe. From the pragmatic point of view it is an immense economic benefit for the city and all eastern Slovakia which not only utilizes single funds but through them it can also initiate the city development even in the long-term horizon.
Košice has also the possibility to present its unique cultural treasure, increase local and external visit rate and become a very popular touristic destination.
How does the city want to utilize the prestigious value and investments of ECC into infrastructure in the interest of the development of whole region? How will this project strengthen mission of the culture in the region?
We are building up the high-class cultural infrastructure, creating cultural politics of the city and the region with direct effect on a national level. What we are doing in Košice at the moment is a historical moment for cultural politics in Slovakia. The project opens new possibilities for individual projects which under other conditions wouldn’t get a chance. Subsequently, single cultural operators started to communicate among themselves, to have regular meetings and create common projects and co-operations. And precisely this fulfills the sense of this unique European cultural project.
Why was it necessary to make personal changes in the project team ECC 2013? Was it incited by the change of philosophy and effort to save at least something of what would be possible?
Personal changes were inevitable. We found ourselves in a situation, when the local cultural community and its people didn’t have any confidence in the project. Obviously this was also the reason why the ex-director decided to leave. Unfortunately she didn’t get under control her leaving and started to damage the project purposely here and abroad.
Actual management of the project was thoroughly chosen. One of the important criteria was also knowledge of the local cultural area, which the ex-director was missing absolutely. Ján Sudzina, who became executive director set up a competent, dynamic team whose quality was appreciated by the head of the monitoring committee of the European Commission during his last visit. I am glad that the practices and work ethic that ruled the team in the past slowly disappeared and the whole project team became immersed into the work with one goal – to reach what had been missed and to avoid international shame.
The ex-director of the team Ms. Jaurová has reservations about the project, doesn’t believe in it and discredits it. The management team of ECC 2013 pronouncedly denied her statements and informed that they would take legal action against her. What do you have to say about her accusations?
Mrs. Jaurová lied about the project several times and wanted to threaten its success. Considering the fact it is a project of Slovak national importance, she could endanger the good name of Slovakia. It really came to the point that we were considering to make a defamation complaint.
How are results of the last evaluation from the European monitoring group?
It was just one of the many steps of which conclusion will be April’s monitoring in Brusel. Final monitoring panel group will evaluate how successful is Košice in impletion of the goals of the project.
Will Košice gain the Melina Mercouri Prize, which would mean another 1.5 million Euro grant given in March to Košice supposing the city realized everything what was accorded during the tender phase?
I don’t want to anticipate things will happen. It is not simple to realize all given criteria, and i tis a long-lasting process. We didn’t find anything concrete after the ex-management of ECC. There wasn’t any marketing and communication strategy, the private sector was a task of the supernumerary, cultural operators didn’t collaborate among themselves and investment projects were wildly overpriced. In 2011 the new project team did a great job, they managed to reach some goals and others to stabilize. We realize that for more than a year we have been responsible for the advancement of the project and we don’t look back. We have done everything in our power to make the project successful. Whether we will have succeeded we will know after April 25, 2012 when the monitoring committee in Brussels will have decided about everything.
How do you evaluate preparedness of the city to realize planned investment projects for which the Slovak government earmarked funds in 60 million Euros from structural funds of EU?
The requirement for utilizing these funds was obtaining building permissions and implementation documentations for all planned investment projects by November 30th 2011. At the same time until this date it was necessary to ask the Slovak Ministry of Culture for single grants to finance them. This condition was fulfilled from the part of the city. The city received 7 zoning decisions, 13 general building permissions, 13 water repairing and special transport building permissions, 3 permissions to change construction before finishing, hundreds of standpoints and realized tens of revisions and repairs of project documentations. All this was managed to be done during 2011. Currently there are in progress public procurements selecting providers of building works.
Košice has planned several projects. Which of them are the most important and which of them will have been done by the end of 2012?
There are two key-projects from 8 investment projects - Kulturpark and SPOT's. Project Kulturpark is about the transformation of old army barracks into a cultural – social complex for creation, presentation and support of actual creative, authentic and experimental culture, activities, art and exhibit spaces. On the other hand, the transformation of out-of-use substations in a residential area of blocks of flats into SPOT´s community centres is a project highly appreciated and as far as the area of community development and social arts is concerned, it is considered progressive even by European criterion.
The meaning of the project Kunsthalle is reconstruction of the old and functionless covered swimming pool into a modern cultural and exhibition area while keeping the water element as a characteristic “genius loci.” Primarily it will be aimed at international exhibitions of visual arts, objects and new media. By revitalization and reconstruction of the City Park, and the Park on Komenského and Moyzesova street there will be created an antipole to the bustling streets of Košice. Their peaceful and safe surroundings with the unique open air gallery will be suitable for organizing cultural events and work presentation of artists. By the project Street of Crafts (Ulička remesiel) we want to create a place for presentation of artisan’s traditions, for realization of unique performances and cultural events in a specific area with a touch of history.
The project Košice Castle is about the rediscovery of a historical castle and building an allusive reconstruction of the castle by wooden constructions, which would indicate the previous castle walls. All main activities of the city investment projects will have been finished by the end of 2012.
Furthermore, the non-profit organization Zachráňme kaštieľ v Krásnej reconstructs one of the oldest classicist mansions in Slovakia – in Krásna nad Hornádom. It will serve as a museum and venue for artistic activities, exhibitions, educational and social activities for all citizens. Another non-profit organization Perlygotickejcesty reconstructs the national cultural heritage icon – the Cathedral of St. Elisabeth, which will also serve for realization of cultural events and growth of cultural tourism.
All these projects will contribute to the city transformation and will be a unique impulse for its cultural and economic growth. Also owing to the realization of all these projects Košice will become a better place to live.
How much total investments are required for these projects? Are they open also for private sources?
Total investments for 8 city projects including 13 buildings require 50 million Euros. Of course, they are open to private investment, but so far nobody has offered us any private resources.
For support of the project ECC 2013 there exists a wide Coalition 2013+ , which is made from important businesses, Košice city, Prešov city, the non-profit organization Košice 2013, and the autonomous regions of Košice and Prešov. How does this organization support the current state of investment and project preparation?
Management of Košice city and management of the project team Košice – ECC 2013 communicates regularly with representatives of key members of Koalícia 2013+ about the state of preparations which are under the responsibility of the city and non-profit organization Košice – ECC 2013. Thanks to this dialogue we were able to have their confidence towards the project and changes provided in the management of the project team. For example, I can mention active participation of U. S. Steel Košice, the Technical University of Košice, and Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in the project CreativeFactory in the future Kulturpark. It will be unique in the science centres network, compared to anything in other European and world metropolises.
It is quite much discussed the reconstruction of amphitheater of Košice, or about its reconstruction into multifunction hall. Will this project become a “permanent monument” of ECC 2013?
The aim of the reconstruction is to create the space with new added cultural value and with new operative parameters in order to organize cultural events of greater extent, musical concerts of different genres, summer festivals, festivals of drama, big folk festivals and movie evenings. From the architectural point of view, the project solves reparation of wooden stage and its covering  change of damaged seats and completing with new ones, camera system, sound distribution, lighting, purchase of technical equipment for projection, and adjustment of orchestra and place for performers.
Have there been studies of public opinion on ECC 2013? What do they say? Marketing and communication strategy were in the long term the greatest deficiency of the project. Today however, we have the research which says that 72% of Slovaks know that Košice is becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2013. We know also that the main sources of information are television, online journals and the Internet..
We were surprised athe the knowledge of new events that are offered by Košice 2013. After the world-known Košice Peace Marathon (75%), which is the oldest in Europe, the most famous became: non-traditional street festival of current art Bielanoc (37%), which more than 50 000 people visited, multigenre festival Summer in the Park (35%) and festival of arts in the public space Use The City (25%). Most important for us is the fact that almost 68% interviewed wouldn't hesitate in coming to Košice for these unique events.
How will the program of the ceremony in January 2013 look like?
Now I can only reveal that the opening ceremony will be for 2 days – the weekend of January 19 and 20, 2013. We will not concentrate ourselves into one place. It is going to be an event which will be running over the whole city. Citizens but also visitors and tourists can look forward to a huge amount of music, drama and film events. Of course, there won´t be missing current interior art and art in the public space. Even during the week which will precede the opening ceremony there are planned many interesting activities. More information though we would like to keep in secrecy as long as possible.
Which of the European politicians have already confirmed their participation? Is said that the head of the European Commission J. M. Barroso would come. Is it true?
We plan to initiate the Year 2013 really magnificently. Therefore there won´t be missing Slovak or European political leaders.
How the city collaborates with the other cities of eastern Slovakia and with the autonomous region of Košice within ECC 2013?
The scope of the project is regional. By the program Pentapolitana we renew the natural cooperation of historical connection among the five royal cities of eastern Slovakia: Košice, Prešov, Sabinov, Bardejov and Levoča. It is the concept of events, festival, educational activities and also single-way actions with which we create the space for co-operation of local cultural operators with the local government. That is how the grounds for cultural and free-time tourism as well as potential for making new working places are created.
The autonomous region of Košice named its program Terra Incognita. Its main thought again rose from the history and its aim is to keep up and develop the three commercial routes (Gothic, iron and wine roads), which were throughout our region in the past. Visitors of the region will observe not only the basic historical themes, but they will also experience the unique atmosphere of cultural, sport and other events offered by local cultural operators along these routes.
Košice wants to collaborate also with the French city Marseilles. Which common projects have already been agreed?
We were able to make an agreement with the project team Marseilles – Provence 2013 concerning a few artistic projects, and not only with the city Marseilles but also with cultural operators from the region Provence. Through them we would like to bring the respected French ballet, exhibition of Antoine d’Agat, the photographer, who will be engaged in migration. Since 2009 Košice is the member of European network for art in public spaces InSitu. The festival Use the City which we organize in streets of the city is one of the activities were we present art in public space. In 2013 together with Marseilles we plan an international conference which will be concerned in this type of art.
 On the other hand a Week of Slovak Culture begins on May 13, 2013 in Marseilles. During that time our music, gastronomy, films, theater will be introduced. Kosice inhabitants are slowly learning that a gala-concert 2 in 1, organized in celebration of gaining the title the European Capital of Culture, will take place in September. In 2013 domestic artists will be alternating with those from Marseilles at the stage near the Immaculata. There are far more common activities planned. Already now we have 14 projects confirmed through which we would like to show in Kosice what is French. And what is even more important, there will be an opportunity for Slovak artists in Marseilles to present themselves not only to France but also to the whole Europe.
Visual code of Slovak Vojvodina
Exhibition The Pictures of the long forgotten ancestors captures the Slovak community in its full beauty, with its customs, traditions, myths and legends. Why? So that it would preserved from being forgotten
Edition: Dimenzie
Photo: Miroslav Benka and friends
Production: Art centrum Bread and games, Stará Pazova
PX: In the memorable Beňuška's house in Martin (which used to be a temporary seat of Matica slovenska during construction of its first seat) there will be a launch of the extraordinary travelling exhibition of artistic photographies from Serbian Vojvodina on March 14, 2012. The special magic of the artistic impression captured on paper will move to Slovakia from the Slovak Institute in Budapest where it had its premiere on February 1. The author of the exhibition is Miroslav Benka, a significant Slovak film maker, writer, actor and scenic painter, who lives in Stara Pazova in Serbia from Martin it will be moved to Bratislava, Trenčín, Trnava, Praha, Melbourne, Sydney and into Toronto. And in year 2013 it might return to Slovakia – to Kosice, the European Cultural Capital.
The purpose of the 23 artistic full-colour photographies cycle, which are exhibited in the form of mega panels (70 x 100 cm) and entitled The Images of the Long Forgotten Ancestors is to present folk traditions, customs, motives and also ancient Stara Pazova's outfits of the Slovak ethnic group in Panonian Vojvodina. It portraits not only mythical search for the Slovak roots, but also a deep synthesis of the idea, movement and expression, which can be captured by camera.   23 stations of life and death, the presence and the past, love and hatred, spring and fall, joy and sorrow, nostalgia as well as a vision for future looks provocatively and self-reflexively at the interior spiritual world of each one of us.
Eternalized before it disappears
This topic of the exhibition came about in year 2008, which was the European year of the intercultural dialogue. It symbolizes research of beginning of basic communication and an attempt to create a dialog on the principle of the ethnic, visual and language values of small nationality-based communities. The images of the long forgotten ancestors are a final product of a long-term investigation and work of Miroslav Benka and almost a hundred participants joining in the project. Various places of Vojvodina were photographed. Not only people from Stara Pazova posed as models but also renowned members of the female folk orchestra.
The artistic photographies originate in the production of the Art Center Bread and Games in Stara Pazova in cooperation with the artistic photographers Miralem Čaušević (living in Milan) and Branislav Pokoracky. Miroslav Benka is the source of the idea, ambiance and style. “I was motivated especially by memories of my childhood, customs of our Slovak ethnicity, traditions and culture. I sought a specific 'visual code of Vojvodina'. It is also the Slovak nation in diaspora, which lives far from the country of their ancestors, scattered on the south slopes of the Panonian lowland – in a picturesque Vojvodina. I wanted to capture my nation in its full beauty, with its customs, traditions, myths and legends. I wanted to eternalize it in the last moment, just before it disappears, like the old Aztecs and Incas, so that it would be preserved from being forgotten,” he explains.
Documentation of an Age
This time Miroslav Benka did not create his renowned pictures on theater stage, but in the nature and got them photographed. “They are pure, washed, likable,” as Vladimír Valentík, the Slovak and Vojvodinian art critique, put it, and into them “this significant artist brings his emotion and his relations,” so “he creates his new autonomous and individual story about the feelings of our ancestors and about the heritage on which we have built our presence.“ Miriam Zakulova, the art historian and exhibition curator, stresses that Benka is also a painter of the ambiance, which “gives color to a forgotten age, childhood, yard...”
Miroslav Benka claims that the photography is documentation of an age, events and people. “People very gladly pose in front of the lens dressed up festively with an intention to present themselves in the most beautiful light and in a representative outfit. They are aware that they will be eternalized and will become known and so gain an exhibitory character, they will become a public treasure, witnesses and companions of their times. The photographies are instruments with which the author affirms his thoughts, events and life of the people. That which is worthy of visual notice-- the social and cultural comprehensive existence. Photography has a possibility also to reaffirm outsiders, marginalized people. Photography is something between delivering, life and death. At the same time it is also an elegant art of sunset, defense of anxiety. It allows us memories of experienced moments and duration in between times. It is about prolonging one's life after one's life. And the photographed becomes a socially significant historical document.“ This project was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Serbian Republic, the Transregional Secretariat for Culture and Public Information, the Office for Slovaks Living Abroad, the Institute for Culture of Vojvodina's Slovaks and the village assembly of Stara Pazova.
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Hospital as a palace for the infirm
Sci-fi for Slovak hospitals, health and social institutes? No, it is a positive example of how care for sick and unprovided functioned in the “backward“ Middle Ages at the end of 11th century... Will new knights raise up today as well?
Edition: Dimenzie
Photo: archive
Thousand-year old spiritual and social message for which we can thank the Knights of St Lazarus
The main motive of the medieval hospital was to serve the neighbor, who needed help and this service was equal to the service of God. They came about along pilgrim and trading routes for pilgrims, the sick, the unprovided for and lepers. They were, in the beginning, founded by monks and religious orders and later by aristocrats and towns. They were dominated by the universal idea that a person, especially dying one, is a pilgrim on a long path to the eternity. He finishes an earthly pilgrimage and abandons only his temporary existence and place. What were the internal rules? We offer you, as an example, the hospice of the Military and Hospital Order of St Lazarus in Jerusalem in year 1095.
“Pay respect to a doctor because you need him, when the Highest created him to help others, may he not step away from you for you need his help.” (Sirach 38, Jac 5, 13-20)
“The Highest created healing herbs from soil and a wise man will not reject them from himself, a doctor cures pains with them and herbalist make a gentle perfumes and also other creams for therapy so that His works would not perish.”(Sirah)
The hospital should be established in the most beautiful building in city with the most beautiful decoration that the best artists of those times could have made so that the environment of hospital would be a dignified and positive place or the sick.
All could be received into the hospital without discrimination on the basis of faith or wealth. Visitors of hospital were not only the sick but also the poor and malnourished pilgrims, miserables, women who were left without shelter and children abandoned by their mothers, who were not able to provide for them. It was also a mission of the hospital to find substitute families and mothers for children to provide a dignified upbringing and regular medical check-ups. Mothers with children had right to food for free three times a week. Families, which adopted a child, received 12 talents (72 000 dinars) annually for food and education. In the case that a child was not well taken care of, suffered malnutrition or suffered another harm, the child would be taken away from that adoptive family and placed into a new family environment.
There were up to 168 male-nurses working in the hospital in addition to the priests. In cases of an increase of the sick and wounded of up to 1000 people, the number of nurses would double. When the sick could not get to the hospital by his own effort, he would be sought out by “servants of the hospital“ and be carefully transported to hospital (the first beginning of our current ambulance service).
Surgeons and doctors provided treatment and curing herbs and medications for free. There were four educated doctors with a fixed salary in the hospital. They provided morning and evening visitations with the assistance of an orderly who carried medications and a scribe who recorded instructions.
Upon their arrival, the wounded and sick were received by a brother on shift who was to treat them like lords. First they were taken to a priest who could confess them and administer them “the heavenly medicine“ - the Holy Eucharist.
At the hospital's entry the sick had to hand over their clothes, which were put into sealed sacks. The sick had huge comfortable beds at their disposal with linen sheets and individual baldachin to protect against insects. They received clean clothes, cloaks and fur coats so they would not suffer cold.
Tasks of nurses
To make and adjust beds, straighten sheets, air pillows, be helpful in all respects, cover the sick, help them to walk, wash and dry. Before a meal the sick were given a cloth which would be stretched over their bed. Each patient received his own loaf of bread in order to prevent the distribution of differently sized portions. To enhance the flavor of food, different types of bread would be often be served.
Varying the types of foods served was a different treatment method of that time by doctors. Every Tuesday and Thursday meat was prepared. On Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, grains, cheeses and eggs were prepared. On Sunday, a double portion of meat was given. Nutrition was the same for everyone.
Nurses were to insure the high quality of staples and food preparation. They were to watch to see whether the sick ate with a big or small appetite or whether they left food on plate. If the quality of the food was bad or the appetites of the patients were small, nurses had to take note and immediately provide a substitute meals. Chickens, pigeons, goatlings and fish are recorded as being served as substitute meals.
Nurses regularly purchased fresh fruits and vegetables. In the proximity of hospitals, markets were established, as a hospital would have normally 500 patients and 42 employees. In cases of war the number would increase up to 1000 patients. Hospital doctors determined dietary needs for patients on a diet. Banned were: beans, peas, pork, smoked meats, organ and fat meat. Between two and four nurses daily cut and washed the hair and mustaches of patients.
The day shift finished after sunset. The night shift was taken over by two religious brothers. They had to light up dim lamps so that the sick would not be afraid. Before sleep one of them distributed wine and cordially shouted: “Gentlemen, wine from God!“ And, whoever wanted to drink vine would be served.
The other one carried water around and called upon the sick: “Gentlemen, water from God.“ As soon as they drank, warm water for washing was brought when they called: “Warm water in the name of God.“ They were to wash patients and do it moderately without force. Both brothers had to walk around all night with candles and watch patients also during their sleep. He, who uncovered himself, was to be covered. He, who lay uncomfortably, was to be adjusted. In case of death, priests were present to carry the corpses away.
One brother was elected to watch over the shifts to see whether someone fell asleep or whether the nurses were tidy and approached the shift with animosity. If he found a fault, immediately it was corrected. The negligent one could be punished by scourging the next day. Whoever was permanently derelict was removed from the shift.
The hospital director had a legal power over all nurses and doctors. A worker, who betrayed the service of the sick and inhumanly treated someone, or an employee who accepted a bribe from patient or gave an preferential advantage to a supplier of medications or food, was sentenced to 40 days in prison with a bread and water diet only.
Medieval hospitals were financed and materially supported mainly by religious communities from all over Europe, royalties, wealthy aristocrats and tradesmen, who many times used the services of hospital during their trips. The order of St Lazarus enjoyed high esteem also in Muslim world. The sultan Saladin himself contributed financially and materially to the running of the hospitals of the St Lazarus Order.
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