Get to know foreigners. Bratislava's Fjúžn festival has begun

The festival will try to find answers to seemingly easy questions.

(Source: Michal Babinčák)

Who am I? Who are we? Where do we come from? Does it matter?

These are the basic questions the [fjúžn] festival, focused on presenting new minorities to the majority, will try to answer. Its 14th year will be held in Bratislava between September 12 and 21, offering people the opportunity to learn more about foreigners living in Slovakia.

The main motive is the variability and uniqueness of identity. The festival will reflect mostly on the one-dimensional perception of identity and will try to facilitate a discussion about how many identities a person can have and what the identities of foreigners living outside their homes are.

What to see

The programme will be full of concerts, exhibitions, discussions, community events and activities for children. The full programme can be found on the official website.

These are the highlights recommended by The Slovak Spectator:

  • Tomáš Halász: Where Are You From? (Odkiaľ si?) (exhibition in public space)
    September 9-22
    Old Town

The young people in the photos taken by Tomáš Halász have all been born in Slovakia. However, one or both of their parents are from another country. What does their background mean to them? How does it influence their identity? Where is their home? How do they perceive themselves and how are they perceived by others? How often are they asked the question: Where are you from? During the festival, the exhibition will be installed in the streets of Old Town.

  • Aleš Vojtášek: The Staircase (artistic installation)
    from September 12
    staircase at Klariská and Podjavorinskej Streets

The Staircase - artist Aleš Vojtášek’s new installation is an expression of the desire for Slovakia as a country without pigeonholing, prejudice and xenophobia. A society caught in the storm of “isms”, from populism to nationalism and fascism, is easy to manipulate, so it is important not to succumb to it, not to generalise but to perceive the value of a person, her or his quality, perceive her or his inner world. Climbing the stairs symbolises a ritual purification from stereotypes and a symbol of hope that at the peak of our efforts we will find a more open, understanding and confident Slovakia for all.

  • Central European Forum: On the Freedom of Speech (discussion)
    Friday, September 13, 18:00
    Nová Cvernovka, Račianska 78
    free entry
    language: English, Slovak

The Central European Forum will offer a fine selection of guests. Khalid Albaih is a renowned cartoonist and founder of an online network of independent political cartoonists, banned in his home country – Sudan. Péter Molnár is a Hungarian writer, poet, media and freedom scholar and the latest winner of the European Slampionship. Last but not least, Zuska Kepplová is a Slovak writer and commentator for the Sme daily. The discussion will be hosted by Dessy Gavrilova, director of the Vienna Humanities Festival.

Political scientist Ivan Krastev, who is a regular contributor to the New York Times and other international media, will deliver the opening speech in which he will try to answer the question “Who is afraid of identity?”

In 1928, Jean Epstein shot a cult silent horror movie based on a book by Edgar Allan Poe. The soundtrack to this film will be played live by musicians Pjoni and Georgi Bagdarasov.

Don’t miss the [fjúžn] zone at Good Market (Dobrý trh), which will be open in the yard of the primary school at Podjavorinskej Street. There will be an opportunity to meet “Bratislavans” from all over the world, be it Japan, Ethiopia, Nepal, Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Ukraine, Croatia or Iran. Good food, music, dance, workshops and special games are on the menu. NGOs such as Amnesty International, the Slovak Humanitarian Council, Mareena, the International Organization for Migration, the Human Rights League and Krajanský Inštitút will also be present.

  • Joke’s On You (stand-up)
    Tuesday, September 17, 20:30
    Berlinka, Nám. Ľudovíta Štúra 4
    4 €, pre-sale 3 €
    language: English

Laugh in English with the help of four experienced entertainers: Alan Henderson, Tamas Vamos, Mitch Leffler and Nasi.

Eleven people from different parts of the world (Yemen, Iraq, Turkey, Macedonia, Spain, USA, Slovakia) come together in one performance. Their collective work uses the method of Forum Theater during which actors (and spectators) meet together on the stage and discuss real stories on the topics of discrimination and oppression in the society.

  • Clash of Languages: On Identity (slam poetry)
    Thursday, September 19, 18:00
    Goethe Institute, Panenská 33
    free entry
    language: English, German, Czech, Slovak

An evening full of slam poetry and language mixing. Three teams (German, English and Czech-Slovak) are competing in several rounds.

  • Bratislava True Stories (storytelling)
    Friday, September 20, 19:30
    Satori Stage, Mickiewiczova 9
    free entry
    language: English

Selected speakers from around the world have seven minutes to share their experience. Visitors will hear their personal stories about finding, but also losing a part of identity, about uncertainty, acceptance, and basically about who they are now.

  • Superar: For Diversity (children's choir)
    Saturday, September 21, 17:00
    Pistori Palace, Štefánikova 25
    free entry

The 14th edition of the festival will be concluded with the traditional concert of the unique children’s choir Superar where every child regardless of origin or talent is welcome. The songs from all over the world will be performed by pupils from Detva, Plavecký Štvrtok and Bratislava.

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