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Wooden cottages to “grow” atop panelák

A UNIQUE “Folk Architecture Monument” (FAM), in the form of three wooden cottages, will be placed atop a communist-era prefab housing block, or panelák, in the “Dargov Heroes” housing estate, popularly known as “Furča”, in Košice. The ceremonial opening will take place on September 14, but the monument – part of the European Capital of Culture Košice (ECOC) 2013 project – is slated to remain on the roof of the panelák for two years, and possibly longer.

A UNIQUE “Folk Architecture Monument” (FAM), in the form of three wooden cottages, will be placed atop a communist-era prefab housing block, or panelák, in the “Dargov Heroes” housing estate, popularly known as “Furča”, in Košice. The ceremonial opening will take place on September 14, but the monument – part of the European Capital of Culture Košice (ECOC) 2013 project – is slated to remain on the roof of the panelák for two years, and possibly longer.

The creator of this “intervention in public space”, Slovak artist Tomáš Džadoň (aged 32), said of the original idea: “The first design of the FAM appeared way back in college in Prague, at the Academy of Fine Arts, in the studio of Jiří Příhoda. I prepared it for my hometown, Poprad; it was around the year 2006 and I felt a strong sense of uprootedness, so typical for my generation. I re-evaluated and questioned the notion of tradition, as I didn’t understand it as naturally as my parents did. I perceived a certain trauma in the society that was connected with socialism. As I experienced communism in Czechoslovakia only through my childhood, I felt the urge, the willingness and energy to overcome all the clichés and stereotypes settled in our heads and sold by culture,” Džadoň told the Pravda daily in late 2012.

“Thus, I connected the wooden houses as the image of our romantic innocence with a panelák, a housing estate; our collective experience with my personal experience. I was born in a panelák, and so for me, the space of a housing estate is much more natural than a village with wooden cottages. I symbolically placed the burden of our past on the shoulders of every day life of a panelák human,” he told Pravda.

Explaining how the current project came into existence, he recalled that Lukáš Berberich from the Tabačka culture hub was the first to invite him and discuss some type of monument for Košice. Then the ECOC project (which includes Tabačka and some of its activities) stepped in and although the leadership of the project changed, Džadoň’s vision of “folklore on the roof” was preserved. After about two years of negotiations, bureaucratic red tape and fund-raising, the project is nearing completion, with the ceremonial hoisting of the three folk houses slated for mid September.

Even though the ECOC, the city of Košice, the Culture Ministry and other national and private institutions and organisations helped the project, additional funding for hoisting the cottages is still needed, and so Džadoň opened so-called crowdfunding websites at Hithit (www-hithit.com) and Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com), where people can contribute money – from a symbolic 30 Czech crowns to bigger sums – in exchange for a postcard, a badge, an official T-shirt, or a permanent engraving commemorating the donation.

Džadoň says that he feels respect for the panelák’s inhabitants, 34 out of 48 of whom agreed to the slightly risky placement of the cottages over their heads. To show his gratitude, he would like to turn the opening ceremony into a performance for the people on Lidické Square 1, including a folklore concert and a festival for everyone.

“The outdoor jamboree will have the form of a […] public barbecue,” Džadoň wrote on Hithit.com. “It will be recorded for a documentary movie (by Palo Pekarčík), including the immediate emotions and reactions of visitors of the FAM’s opening. The monument will be symbolically given to those who live in the neighbourhood,” Džadoň concluded.

On the Hithit.com website, the artist stresses that although it is meant primarily for the locals, the “monumental ready-made” will not be accessible from the roof, as there will be no direct entry. The monument addresses the individual, the neighbourhood inhabitant, Džadoň writes. The inhabitant will view it from his or her flat: alone, with family, while cooking lunch, going to sleep or waking up.

“The site is chosen so that also inhabitants of other Košice boroughs, or tourists coming to the eastern Slovak metropolis, can see it,” the artist writes.

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