Born: 1996 Bratislava, Slovakia
Profession: Visual Artist
Lives & works in: Bratislava, Slovakia
One of the contemporary migration routes begins in Turkey, continues in Greece, and leads through Southeastern European countries towards Central Europe. Once, Greece was a starting point of a similar migration route, walked by Lena (in Slovak & Macedonian) or Eleni (in Greek), who was forced to escape her homeland. She was never repatriated to her native environment in northern Greece and thus re-connected with the Macedonian minority, into which she was born. Transient Ties analyses the process of cutting ties with one’s birthplace, whilst attempting to integrate within a new environment, which continues to occur to political refugees and migrants. It visually unearths the culture and environment in Greece that Eleni/Lena was stripped of, and the one in former Czechoslovakia that she had to embrace.
Lena’s uprootedness was a result of the Greek Civil War (1946–1949) fought between monarchists and communists, heavily supported by the UK and USA, as the West didn’t want Greece to be yet another country falling under communist regime spreading in Europe at the time. The communist side was receiving support from Yugoslavia, Albania, and Bulgaria. Due to the Greek Civil War, thousands of children in Greece were sent to communist countries in Central & Eastern Europe. Former Czechoslovakia accepted up to 13.000 children coming from Greece, including Lena.
Through this story, I collaborate with my grandmother Lena/Eleni, while exploring her identity, and the bonds between displacement & cultural heritage. The work contemplates the consequences of displacement, triggered by forced migration. The attachment to her roots vanished once adapting to a different place, in former communist Czechoslovakia, where she lives until today (Slovakia). Greece represents a mysterious land to her, which she doesn’t know how to connect with anymore.