Daniela Krajčová

Interview

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Daniela Krajčová (right) and workshop participant

From a conversation with Oto Hudec, spring 2012

 

Daniela Krajčová: I first became interested in the theme of immigrants during a residency in Bretagne, France, where I did a short animation about a Djibouti immigrant. After this, I received a stipend to work in an immigrant neighborhood in Aix en Provence and then I decided to work with refugees in Slovakia. I had absolutely no idea about the situation here, but found a small notice in the newspaper looking for volunteers and through this I got a contact with the organization, Slovak Humanitarian Rada and started to work in the asylum house in Rohovce, which is located one hour from Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia). The asylum house is in former army building.

 

Because there are so few immigrants asking for asylum in Slovakia, hardly anybody is paying attention to the cause accept for a few NGOs. The asylum seekers have few activities with the exception of learning the Slovak language, but because most of them have the intention to get to another country, they are not very interested. As only a few people per year receive asylum, many of the immigrants are in the same asylum house for several years. Being in this situation, where they don’t belong anywhere, when a temporary situation becomes a long time process, they end up in apathy. They speak of asylum house as similar to a prison, because to leave the building they need a permit. As they are waiting for the results from a judicial process, which will decide if they will stay or leave, when they talk about their country of origin and their conditions, they sometimes exaggerate or even lie to prove that their situation is more tragic.

 

The first idea was to make a workshop once per week, where we will talk, write, and draw. That happened the first time, but when the immigrants realized the character of the workshop, they soon lost interest. So I needed to find all kinds of different ways to get them engaged. Some of the asylum seekers did not want to talk about their situation, because it was too sensitive of a matter. Then it also happened that people disappeared or left the camp. For example, one Vietnamese man, who was quite skilled in drawing and showed a lot of passion for our workshops, was one day just gone. We were working in the camp for a half a year and during that time the composition of the group completely changed

 

When the project was presented in the gallery (Galeria Cypriana Majernika) and in public discussions in Bratislava and Kosice, it received good media coverage and most of public had heard for the first time about the subject. Unfortunately, the immigrants were not allowed to attend all of the public talks, except for the ones in the gallery exhibition. My aim was to make the chance for these two different worlds to meet, the general public, and the immigrants with the aim of helping to break the barrier between the two groups.