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A FORMER SYNAGOGUE OFFERS A SPLENDID GALLERY ENVIRONMENT

Spiritual art finds rich home

SUZANNE and Csaba Kiss have a maple tree in their garden planted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama - only one of the many illustrations of the spiritual atmosphere that surrounds their living and working place, significantly called the At Home Gallery.
What started in 1995 in the apartment of the Canadian-Hungarian-Slovak couple as a small initiative after they had moved from Vancouver to the southern Slovak town of Šamorín has now grown to be a full time job for 35-year old Csaba Kiss.
With the permission of the Šamorín town council and the Council of Jewish Communities in Slovakia, they rented the local synagogue and changed it into a gallery. To prepare the first exhibition, the damaged building needed six months of repairs and cleaning until it was suitable to open after 50 years


HIS Holiness dismantles sacred mandala.
photo: Courtesy of At Home Gallery

SUZANNE and Csaba Kiss have a maple tree in their garden planted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama - only one of the many illustrations of the spiritual atmosphere that surrounds their living and working place, significantly called the At Home Gallery.

What started in 1995 in the apartment of the Canadian-Hungarian-Slovak couple as a small initiative after they had moved from Vancouver to the southern Slovak town of Šamorín has now grown to be a full time job for 35-year old Csaba Kiss.

With the permission of the Šamorín town council and the Council of Jewish Communities in Slovakia, they rented the local synagogue and changed it into a gallery. To prepare the first exhibition, the damaged building needed six months of repairs and cleaning until it was suitable to open after 50 years


EXTERIOR of Šamorín synagogue.
photo: Courtesy of At Home Gallery

"In the beginning people came out of curiosity, they didn't know what the building was, they had never been inside," says Suzanne Kiss with a smile. The synagogue was used as a warehouse during communism and is now the last synagogue standing in the Žitný ostrov region in southern Slovakia.

One of the most fascinating projects that took place in the At Home Gallery is the visit of Buddhist monks who created a mandala - a circular figure representing the universe made of coloured sand.

Great interest among the local public accompanied the first event, and on the second occasion in October 2000, His Holiness the Dalai Lama accepted an invitation for the dismantling ceremony of the mandala, pouring it into the nearby Danube river. "It was not only the highlight of the gallery but of our lives," the couple agrees.

Not discouraged by the lack of money in the non-profit sector, Suzanna and Csaba started an ambitious new project at the beginning of 2000. They reconstructed the neighbouring building of the former Jewish school and turned it into an Arts House, which will serve a visiting artist as a living space and studio for the time of his or her stay in Šamorín.


INSTALLATION by Jana Želibská, 1998.
photo: Courtesy of At Home Gallery

The curators of the At Home Gallery are conscious of the unique spirit of their exhibition space and are co-operating with similar galleries in Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary united in 'The Synagogue Chain'. "We think that it is important to raise awareness of the buildings and their troubles," explains Suzanne.

Their new exhibition, entitled 'Among Them', is a multi-faceted project inspired by ravens and their symbolism in different religions. Sigismond de Vajay, an artist of Hungarian-Argentinean origin, will display sculptures of ravens in connection with sounds of the birds and music composed especially for this occasion. The exhibition will be accompanied by poems and legends from different literary texts.

The sculpture and sound installation will start in Šamorín and then continue to Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States. The exhibition starts September 5 and lasts until September 30.

At Home Gallery, Synagogue, Mliečňanská 6, Šamorín.
Tel: 031/5627-998.
Open Wed-Sun 14:00-18:00 and closed during the winter months (December till March).

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