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Artists fight to save Stoka

NOT LONG ago, several Bratislava artists decorated part of the outside wall of the local alternative theatre Stoka. By the end of the summer holidays they plan to cover its entire length, almost 100 metres.
"The project's working title is Street Gallery," said the project's initiator, artist Fero Guldan.
He explained that, in the future, the theatre aims to attract tourists and locals not only with theatre and concert performances but also via art. Firstly, though, it has to attract the eye of city officials and contractors, as Stoka is at risk of being torn down.


ARTISTS get friendly.
photo: Blaho Uhlár

NOT LONG ago, several Bratislava artists decorated part of the outside wall of the local alternative theatre Stoka. By the end of the summer holidays they plan to cover its entire length, almost 100 metres.

"The project's working title is Street Gallery," said the project's initiator, artist Fero Guldan.

He explained that, in the future, the theatre aims to attract tourists and locals not only with theatre and concert performances but also via art. Firstly, though, it has to attract the eye of city officials and contractors, as Stoka is at risk of being torn down.

Stoka is located in the area close to the city's centre, which awaits a massive reconstruction. The former factory buildings pilled along the Danube riverbank are to be replaced by a metropolitan boulevard with shopping malls, restaurants, offices, and the newly built national theatre. The theatre's long-term battle for finances has thus received a new, more urgent incentive. In order to save the theatre, Guldan approached up to 30 Slovak artists to support the initiative by painting their original work on Stoka's outside wall. He and Jano Pakan then coated the surface and set the project's tone by shaping Stoka's two entrances into cross-sections of sewer pipes (Stoka means sewer in Slovak). Other artists, including Michal Kuric, Peter Bauer, Laco Torma, and Fero Kudláč, joined in.


ROAD to the Stoka's future is uncertain.
photo: Blaho Uhlár

"First we expected the project to take place over a few days. But because the artists, who are all well-recognised, are busy, the project is developing more gradually," said Guldan.

The artist based his initiative on the statement by one of the architects behind the area's reconstruction, Peter Bauer, who is persuaded that the theatre can be saved.

"There is no problem in maintaining [Stoka] in the green area of the boulevard of Pribinova. The whole zone should have rich cultural basis, and today Stoka is a significant culture centre," Bauer told the daily SME.

The final word, though, is still to come. The demolition of the first buildings will start soon. The theatre's director, Blaho Uhlár, cannot predict whether the artistic project will mobilise the public to support the theatre. But by the time the reconstruction starts to concern Stoka directly, the activists believe the plan can save the theatre.

"We have to fight until the last breath," added Kuric.

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