Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia Prague /Cultural cooperation /

Cultural cooperation

The Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Prague is active in different fields of culture. In cooperation with the competent institutions, it promotes Slovene culture and science in the Czech Republic and provides assistance in establishing links between Slovene and Czech partner institutions. The embassy organises cultural events and represents a meeting place for all (Slovenes and Czechs alike) who promote Slovene culture.

The embassy regularly organises activities that coincide with important cultural anniversaries. For example, in 2013 they commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Czech film director and screenwriter František Čap (author of some of the best Slovene and Czech movies before WWII). In 2012 activities were tied to the 140th anniversary of the birth of Slovene architect Jože Plečnik as well as the 80th anniversary of the construction of one of his most well-known structures – the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord in Vinohrady. Related to these two anniversaries, several important events took place during 2012, such as the re-opening of the south gardens at Prague Castle (now newly restored according to Plečnik's plan), concerts, films and documentary screenings, a new guide book of the church in Vinohrady, and a guide book of the buildings of Jože Plečnik in the Czech Republic by Jiří Podrazil and Zdeněk Lukeš. In 2014 Mr. Lukeš was decorated by the Republic of Slovenia with the Medal for Valour for his contribution in the promotion of the work of the Slovene architect Jože Plečnik.

Slovenian language education

Charles University in Prague and Masaryk University in Brno both have a chair for Slovenian language. In 2005, a chair for Czech language was established at the Department of Slavistics at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana.

In 2014 we are celebrating another important anniversary – 100 years since the establishment of the Slovene Lectorate at Charles University in Prague.

Visual arts, design and architecture

In the area of architecture the relations of both nations have been marked by the role and work of the architect Jože Plečnik. Known in the Czech Republic more commonly as Josip, he was a professor of Architecture at the College of Arts and Crafts in Prague between 1911 and 1920.

Plečnik's Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord in Vinohrady is considered by many as the most beautiful modern church in Prague (and according to National Geographic Magazine, one of the most beautiful churches in Europe of the 20th century). The broad, 42m high bell-tower, with its copper dome and crucifix, can be seen in the Prague panorama from as far away as Prague Castle. Two exhibitions connected with Plečnik have been presented in various parts of the Czech Republic in recent years. The exhibition Plečnik's Sacral Art shows his work and the exhibition Jewellery (2012 and 2013) consists of objects made by Slovene designer and architect Ajda Balderman Plesnik that were inspired by the work of three Slovene female architects who were Plečnik's students.

Thanks to Plečnik's architectural legacy in Prague, the promotion of contemporary Slovenian architecture has made further steps in the Czech Republic. The Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in the centre of Prague has presented several exhibitions in the last years dedicated to Slovene architecture, namely, Blow Up (2012) by Bevk Perović Arhitekti, OFIS_open_files (2013) by Ofis Arhitekti studio, and the exhibition Architecture and Wine in Central Europe (2014), which featured the social and cultural dialogue between architecture and wine-growing, vineyards, and wineries in 8 Central European countries. Jaroslav Fragner Gallery is owned by the Czech Architecture Foundation and is one of the few galleries in the Czech Republic that pays continual attention to contemporary architecture as well as to the history of architecture.

Slovenes have also left an important footprint in the educational sphere of art. Professor Aleksandra Vajd has, together with her husband, Hynek Alt, been the head of the photography studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague since 2008. Both of them are exhibiting their own work regularly, they are also included in the overviews of the contemporary art of the Czech Republic.

In the area of design it is worth mentioning that since 2013 the legendary chairs and table by one of the most famous Slovene designers, Niko Kralj, have been permanently installed in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.

Film

In the film sphere, the cooperation between Slovenia and the Czech Republic is rich. Slovene films have been regularly represented at several international film festivals throughout the territory of the Czech Republic. Probably the most famous of them – the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has presented several fresh Slovene films in past years.

Under the support of the Embassy of Slovenia in Prague and the Slovenian Film Centre, Slovenia also participates in the film festival The Days of European Film, held annually in Prague, Brno, and some other smaller cities in the Czech Republic. Among film festivals, the Finále Plzeň stands out. Originally organised as a festival of Czech films, it has expanded its programme to include the ZOOM and Industry sections, in which films from other countries, such as Slovenia, are also represented.

The Slovenian Film Centre plays important role in the promotion of Slovenian films in the Czech Republic. Among the activities, special film retrospectives are organised regularly. One recent retrospective took place in November 2013 in Prague and in December 2013 in Ljubljana and was devoted to František Čáp, Czech film director and screenwriter, who directed 32 films between 1939 and 1970. He was active also in Slovenia where he shot some of the most famous Slovene movies of all time, such as: Vesna (1953), Ne čakaj na maj [Don't whisper] (1957) in Naš avto [Our Auto] (1962). With the cooperation of the Czech National Film Archive, these films were part of the retrospective held in Prague and screened for the first time Czech subtitles.

Another important name in the area of film is definitely the young Slovene director and writer Olmo Omerzu. Omerzu graduated from Prague's FAMU (Film and TV School, an integral part of The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague) and in 2013 won the RWE (annual Czech Film Critics Awards) Award for Discovery of the Year for his intimate debut, Příliš mladá noc [A Night Too Young], the only Czech representative at the 2012 Berlinale.

Literature

The sphere of literature is a vivid example of interaction among both cultures, especially in the area of translation. In 2013, Peter Kuhar and Lenka Daňhelová issued an extensive anthology of contemporary Slovenian poetry translated into Czech language, S petdesetimi glasovi govorim/Padesáti hlasy hovořím/I Speak in Fifty Voices. Kuhar and Daňhelová are also the organisers of the International Poetry Festival Stranou which takes place every year in Beroun, Krakovec (Castle), and Prague (Václav Havel Library).

One of the most active publishers of translations of Slovene authors into Czech language is Větrné mlýny from Brno. The publishing house organises the “Month of Authors” (Měsíc autorského čtení or MAČ), a literary festival held annually in July that travels from Brno to Ostrava in the Czech Republic, to Košice in Slovakia, then to Wrocław in Poland. While the festival typically represents the literature of the three countries, each year focuses also on the literature of one or more countries or regions beyond them. The 2012 edition included 30 Slovene authors, among them Vida Mokrin Pauer, Andrej Skubic, Milan Dekleva, and Brane Mozetič. Thus far the event has been the biggest presentation of Slovenian literature in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia.

Numerous other important Slovenian authors have visited the Czech Republic in recent years, such as Boris Pahor, who was in Prague at the end of 2012, and Maja Haderlap in May 2013. Many of the visits are successfully organised by three lectorates of Slovenian language mentioned above.

Svět Knihy is the biggest book fair in the Czech Republic, taking place annually each May in Prague. Slovene authors have been regular guests at this important event.

Performing arts

In the performing arts field, Slovene actress Nataša Burger is actively present. One of her recent and very popular acts is a music and poetry act Voda v poušti/Water in the desert, performed together with Slovene poet and musician Andraž Polič.

Uroš Trefalt works as a director in theatre and TV (rebranding, promo campaigns, music clips). One of the most renowned Prague theatres Divadlo na Zabradli included his performance Duende in its repertoire. In 2014 Trefalt directed the performance Lublana in the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre.

In the area of puppetry, Slovene puppeteer and actor Matija Solce (Teatro matita) has to be mentioned as well. Solce is currently undertaking his doctoral studies in alternative theatre and puppetry at the Prague Theatre Academy (DAMU), on the theme of "The musical perspective of puppet theatre".

Opera director Rocc (Rok Rappl) was deputy artistic director of the Janáček Opera of the National Theatre in Brno from 2008 to 2009, from 2009 to 2011 he was artistic director of the same opera house. From 2011 to 2013 he was artistic director of the Prague State Opera, which from 2012 has been affiliated with the National Theatre Opera in Prague. In November 2013, he became artistic director of the Slovene National Opera in Ljubljana. His latest productions in the Czech Republic are Debussy's Pelleas and Melisande at the National Theatre, Lohengrin (R. Wagner, NDM Ostrava, March 2013) and Ivo Medek's Alice in Bed at Janaček Opera in Brno, May 2014.

Slovenes in the Czech Republic

The oldest operating Slovene society in the Czech Republic is located in Brno. Founded on 1 November 2002, its president is Dr. Jiri Matyášek.

Since 14 February 2013 there has been another Slovene Society, named after Slovene architect Jože Plečnik. The seat of this society is in Beroun near Prague, with Peter Kuhar as its president.

The majority of Slovenes living in the Czech Republic are connected with Slovene companies that operate there. Many Slovenes are also closely interlinked with culture. Students from Slovenia represent another important portion. Every Friday, there is a class of Slovenian language for the Slovene children living in Prague. Numerous performances for Slovene children have taken place in these premises during recent years (such as story reading afternoons with Anja Štefan, Andrej Rozman Roza, Melita Osojnik, Barbara Mioč Spalević, and performances from actors like Matija Solce).

Several young people from Slovenia have studied at the eminent Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, or FAMU, one of the oldest film schools in the world, located in Prague. Several of the FAMU alumni from Slovenia have received international acclaim (for example, Janez Burger, Janja Glogovac, Olmo Omerzu). Some puppeteers studied at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre of the DAMU (for example, Silvan Omerzu or Matija Solce).

Useful links:
Ministry of Culture
Cultural institutions and artists
Ministry of Education, Science and Sport
University of Ljubljana
University of Maribor
University of Primorska
Independent higher education institutions
Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Centre for Slovene as a Second/Foreign Language  
Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic – www.mkcr.cz
Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic – www.msmt.cz
Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague – http://www.czu.cz
Czech Technical University in Prague – http://www.cvut.cz
University of Economics in Prague – http://www.vse.cz
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice – http://www.jcu.cz
Charles University in Prague – http://www.cuni.cz
Masaryk University in Brno – http://www.muni.cz
Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry in Brno – http://www.mendelu.cz
University of Ostrava – http://www.osu.cz
Palacký University in Olomouc – http://www.upol.cz
Silesian University in Opava – http://www.slu.cz
Brno University of Technology – http://www.vutbr.cz
Czech Technical University in Prague – www.cvut.cz
Technical University of Liberec – http://www.vslib.cz
University of Hradec Králové – http://www.uhk.cz
Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem – http://www.ujep.cz
University of Pardubice – http://www.upce.cz
University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno – http://www.vfu.cz
University of West Bohemia in Pilsen – http://www.zcu.cz