By the Creek, Opposite of a Meadow

Michaela Nagyidaiová

2020 - Ongoing

My parents once said that the chill of crossing borders and feeling like "an escapee" had stayed with them since socialism. Instead of focusing specifically on borders, I wished to pay attention to what's within - the places, where my parents were seeking "a sanctuary, an escape" throughout the past system in Slovakia.

​Serving as a connection between my parents' and my own recollections of youth, the core of the work are childhood memories. I explored the historical and political climate of Slovakia, through our contrasting youth-hoods experienced against the backdrop of two contradictory political systems - socialism and democracy. Occasionally, my parents tell me stories about illegally tuning into Radio Free Europe or how they couldn’t cross the border and visit Vienna even for a day, as we have been doing since I was born. The stories bring me back to times I cannot possibly know, times before 1989 when the freedom of movement was extremely restricted. That's why, my project serves as a “map of utopias”, examining locations tied to my parents' youth and memories of vacationing within Slovakia and returning to places ingrained as my own childhood sites.

Through reconnecting with my roots and analysing my relationship with the native land that I left as a young woman, this work's intention is to portray a trans-generational connection to our native environment and to understand the remnants of socialism that are still present in countless locations within Slovakia.

Making this work was very therapeutic, as I began to plan it throughout the first wave of the pandemic in London. For the first time ever, I had no clue when I would be allowed to come back home, thus my aim was to focus on my native environment, as I was feeling incredibly disconnected from it.

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