Michal Hvorecký

    is a writer, blogger, columnist and translator. He lives in Bratislava, where he is head of the Goethe-Institut Library. He has published several novels, including Danube in America, The Escort, several short story collections and a memoir, Spamäti (2013, By Heart). His short story Wilsonov has been made into a film by the Czech director Tomáš Mašín, which was released in October 2015. Michal Hvorecký’s most recent novel Trol (2017, Troll) depicts the sinister troll factories that spread fake news. “Unfortunately, we still tend to perceive statues in the same way as we did during the revivalism of the 19th century, rather than the pluralism of the 21st. Will we live to see a statue commemorating the tens of thousands of people forcibly deported from the Zips area in Eastern Slovakia to the gulags, particularly the Donbass region? On the heels of the Soviet liberators, deserving undying glory and gratitude, the Stalinist terror marched in. Amid the tribulations in Banská Štiavnica, the grave of an unknown soldier who died in 1919 of injuries he suffered in the Great War, has been misrepresented without any proof as the grave of a World War II Red Army soldier. The idea of creating a statue of Svätopluk the Great in front of Bratislava Castle, originally conceived under the fascist regime, was brought to fruition under democracy. And since 2011 a bust of the convicted Nazi collaborator Ferdinand Ďurčanský, a Slovak nationalist leader and author of the state’s anti-Jewish policies, has graced the square outside the museum in his hometown of Rajec. Nobody had labelled its creator a pseudo-artist, let alone a mental case. Nobody has any issue with artists churning out life-size statues of hockey players, herds of painted cows, characters peeping out of manholes or the 3.3 metre tall statue of Jesus Christ in Prešov, erected for an eye-watering 166,000 euros. They are obviously Art. Because Art is not destructive, according to the self-proclaimed aesthetes of the Internet. In fact, a powerful current of post-war art championed destruction, created with knives and fire, that was innovative and dared to radically respond to the state of general destruction. Artists rang the alarm bells against indifference, resignation and apathy at a time when the social situation was reminiscent of what we have today. If you want to take on the demons of the past, you have to get up from your computers and go to the ballot box. The biggest Slovak monument to communism and mafia-style turbo-capitalism is still towering over us – from the Prime Minister’s seat.”
    Photo: Peter Župník / Central European Forum