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post-communist my ass

Published July, 2010
by Easterndaze

The interesting thing is the, at once smooth, and at the same time problematic context, that all these “post-communist” countries we are interested in, share.

The volume of differences is equal to the volume of things that are shared. Take for example the traffic in Romania, the way this organic chaos of cars parked on sidewalks is disorganized. Take the way how people cross the 4-lane ways, or walk in the middle of the streets because there is no other way to exist on the streets. Take this specific kind of turbo-capitalism that shaped Bratislava or Bucharest into frustrating profit-machines. And also consider why the alternative culture producers have to invest so much energy to mind the gap created by the culturally desolated ~40 years of communism. 

These things are as common for this region as is the overall urban monopolization of cultural life. Contemporary culture exists only in small, pro-western havens, most of the time being the capital cities. The rural regions – being the rest of the country – are places of 19th century cultural reality and paradigms.

Apart from the common things there also also big differences: the ways how the different ethnical and national assemblages came to terms with being a part of The Soviet Union and most important – how they became “post-communist”.


Well, if you are the one who came up with this name, fuck you. There is nothing like “post-communist” to describe a region that is so heterogenous as the V4 and adjacent countries.

Here in Romania they know nothing of nationalism, and for the most people the neo-nazis are a marginalized group of weirdos, whereas in Slovakia, Czech republic and Hungary they have – accept it or not – a huge influence on the political life. We heard lots of plausible explanations why is it like that – and we call for a serious research to verify them.

Also, a striking difference is the language skills – the travels in Slovakia and Czech republic made us encounter many young and educated people coming from a cultural background, who were asking for a native language interview. In Romania, everybody we met so far, is eloquent and fluent in English.

But, the most important thing is, that the most honest and true remarks, or in other words, the least self-censored and carefree words, get out of people when we get wasted with them. There is no external authority making us deconstruct what we say, anxiously listening to the spoken words. There is no dictatorial Edirol R-09HR recorder in front of your mouth.

There is the ever-present beat – the legacy of the Bucharest techno/minimal pulse – that makes us share its ruptures and continuities freely, but always “of the record”. It is a like a jungle, having a deep and hidden structure but at the same time being diverse – a quasi-random fractal shaped by the omnipresent rules and hierarchies of power that shaped this region.

The producers, the artists, they say the same stuff about themselves – an endless PR transmission directed to the outer space. But the same people, drinking beer or wine with us – they ask different questions and express different emotions.

Where to get the money from ? How to survive ?

And this is important because we solve the same issues.

But also – how do we record this ? How do we make the shows reflect the real stuff and not the spectre of “post-communism” haunting this region ? How to ask questions so that we don’t self-stage us/the show/the places ? 

There is an immense flux of ideas and opinions here, searching and identifying the context – the flux of plunging into the “authentic”, the flow of history, the flow of nationality and the flow of Deleuzian faeces. It is continuous and we should never look back ignorantly, as everything that happened is part of our history.

We know the West better than us – the ever encroaching mono-culture is the Goliath thwarting the effort of becoming ourselves.

But the CEE context will escape outsider and probably also insider definitions for a while. And let’s hope that until then we can shape this region into a living, diverse and multicultural space of exchange.