Bratislava

The officially being established cultural centres of similar type have their archives they publish catalogues and they are part of official memory. Many of culture towns arose “from below“ and they exist already only in remembrances of the people, as the case may be, in scattered journal and journalist´s texts of various meaning and range. Approximately since 2000 long-term journal activities in the field of contemporary multigenre experiment have been developed by more groups parallelly: the Attract Art association began to publish the “Three quarters” (Trištvrte) journal later the similarly occasional journal mapping excursuses conduct also the “Vlna” (Wave) and “Enter” (publisher Dive buki) journals. Just from the “Trištvrte ” journal editing the ambition to leave behind on the historic and graphic scene something more durable than a journal i.e. the book arose. In 2007 an experimental attempt for deeper probe into “other”, young, progressive culture: BA! From UFO to UFO comes to existence. Subtitle sounded as “U-fu-touristic guide” and instead of ancient history and of classical historical sights verified by selection and time offers a subjective collage of interesting places of contemporaries in Bratislava. Free available on-line on: https://atrakt.sk/ba

BA!! places of live culture 1989 – 2016 (“the two”) is also neither belles-lettres nor strict literature of fact. The talks or remembering of founders, owners or visitors are contents of the book. To write about such live material while an external historical distance is not possible requires also experimental strategies. Orientation on artistic production serves as binder like a primary and important part of these spaces (which have, of course, also other associated functions). The spaces in book are ranked chronologically and they reflect curator´s supervision.

After 1989 the first independent places of live culture breathed with enthusiasm and atmosphere of previously not recognized freedom.  The Bratislava GunaGU theatre is one of the oldest and trend theatres up to now: it survived namely from times of socialism and, although, it does not already reside in cellar on the Main Square,  but a bit further it preserved atmosphere and poetics which is developed by co-founder Viliam Klimáček in its creation up to now. In that time the cult  Stoka (Sewer) theatre comes into existence which held on several transformations and from which organically arose more successful projects later for example today´s Skrat (Shortcut) theatre. In that time also successful Artfórum bookshop founded in living room on Grösslingova street came into existence from there it expanded into more representative spaces on Kozia street and subsequently also outside geographical borders of the capital.

It was always known also without information provision in social media and professional PR where it is necessary to go. A lot of experiences and cultural collective also individual memory onto (predominantly) musical clubs with opinion: New Model Club, Rock Fabrik, U.Club, UW Café, Duna Gallery, Tea room in underground or Propeller were preserved from this historical class. The spontaneous and organized events gave to the town many cult events and they brought up dramaturges and managers able to break through on the complicatedly coming into existence cultural field of European dimension. Also film clubs: two most known ones 901 and Nostalgia in Bratislava played a very important role in cultural life of communities. Also prank and freedom, an alternative against spreading-out commercialism have been an important part of this all. The “901” built up a cult from fairy tale “Mrázik” (Frosty); they organized also improvised live musical accompaniments to silent movies. However, they presented mainly unique films which were otherwise unavailable. The nineties belonged also to varied tiny clubs after which did not remain many remembrances.

The oldest experimental galleries: Priestor (later Space), Buryzone, Bastart Gallery, Veža (Tower), Photoport (which is functioning up to now but it changed already its address) belonged to the pioneering feats in the field of operation of small galleries. Here many commencing artists exhibited which are established on the international scene today. Small progressive galleries are functioning constantly in the town the focal point is shunted from centre also further in last time, for example into the traditionally “nongallery” Petržalka. In the present day the galleries Photoport, HotDock or musical project Mäsokombinát (Meat Processing Plant) are residing here.

Along the live “stone” gallery scene it is necessary to mention also numerous excellent activities in the field of short-term actions, experimental art in public space and initiatives connected with specific places. Since 2010 to 2012 the Enter Gallery functioned in three abandoned places in the centre. The spaces remained in a raw state and the return of life to these places and to step out from comfort gallery zone of  “white cube “ type  have been the goal of the organizers. The today being established actress and director Slávka Daubnerová operated rehearsal room of P.A.T theatre in one of abandoned industrial buildings of former Cvernovka (Thread Manufacturing Plant). Jozef Vlk musician and theatre man and groupings Hubris Company and Debris Company stood by an older initiative “to enliven the swimming pool” under Bratislava castle for theatrical acts in the nineties. These activities tried to handle with the spirit of place creatively and to interconnect sensibly the history with contemporary influences in art. Single-use or repeated theatrical and media performances were organized in places where they “did not belong” originally.  

The question of relation of town centre and of more distant, as case may be, fully forgotten suburbias/peripheries is an incessant theme. When the actions will take place outside centre, will go the people there? Closely after 2000 the artists group around Laco Teren discovered premises of storehouse in Zlaté piesky (Gold sands). Within this locality more organizations and ateliers of individuals were replaced in the meantime; several tens of quality exhibitions and cultural or educational events were organized here. Since 2002 up to 2014 the Tranzit dielne (Transit Workshops) functioned here and the experimental gallery and space for contemporary art 13 kubíkov (13 cubic m/cm) joined in 2006. Currently this space belongs constantly to the contemporary art and mainly to ateliers and exhibitions, and namely under PRFR heading.

Since 2004 precious impulses towards the domestic also international scene the association A4 –Associations for contemporary culture operating the space A4 of the same name and residing already at its third address in (numerical) order at Karpatská street. In addition to theater, film, music, dance and multimedia artistic production it is focused on the creation and influencing of cultural policy of the town and region, e.g.: https://kulturnabratislava.sk/.

Within Bratislava scene stand also by mention the past and contemporary clubs which could be named by us like “subcultures centres” Batelier, Fuga, Cvernovka, Progressbar and further.  E. g. Batyskaf and Beastro bar belong to the youngest class. Of course, the places of culture and clubs arise not in vacuum and they are functioning in dialogue with stone institutions as for example the schools: Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Academy of Performing Arts and traditional institutions: Slovak National Gallery, Kunsthalle Bratislava, Slovak Centre of Design etc. Nadácia and Nová Cvernovka (New Cvernovka) space, which is continuator of the Cvernovka space, arose thanks to cooperation with Bratislava self-governing region. Cheeky visual art punk is forced by the housing gallery Žumpa (Cesspool) situated in WC, however, founded also in a not fully pulled-off way from context of activities of students/graduates of VŠVU (Academy of Fine Arts and Design) and of public grants.

There is a lot of models of cultural and artistic spaces or centres. Their duration, structure and influence are varying depending on time, finances and energy of creators, founders, communities and other external factors. Bratislava is natural centre, which, however, in regular waves receives and emits pulses to surrounding world whether within the SR or beyond borders. We can strive to get to know and describe this multilayer organism in a certain time. However, it is live. (And it itself thinks often its own way about our knowing and describing).