A team rocking Kosice beyond 2013
For more than 10 years Peter Radkov and his association Bona fide have supported and promoted the local, alternative scene by occupying and transforming empty spaces in Kosice. After investing in a former abbey in the nearby town of Vysne (IC KulturTrain), they turned an old military base in the city centre into a Multi Media Arts Centre. The success of this project Kaserne, which involved the town’s main collectives of young artists such as the Kassa Boys, Artach or Na Perone, contributed largely to the decision of the city being selected as European Capital of Culture. The association Bona Fide was established in 2008 in a former tobacco factory and became the main cultural incubator of the town.
Tabacka is the preferred meeting point for young creatives within the town. Each Wednesday, artists and students get together to exchange ideas over a beer and listen to local DJ sets. The infrastructure of the space is comprised of about 15 rooms, which are divided up into a concert venue, bar, galleries, offices, design and recording studios. The center hosts and presents current regional and international productions in music, dance, theatre, visual arts, literature, film, design and architecture. Thanks to the flair and talent of its artistic director, Lukas Berberich, the quality of the programming is comparable to that of a club in Budapest or Prague.
Each year the Tabacka team organises the international contemporary arts festival Moonride. As part of the last edition, Slovak and foreign artist ( Marie-Caroline Hominal, Mathijs Lieshout, Deadjanitor, Michaela Knizova, Tok Tek, Jakub Pisek, Arash Moori...) were invited to present their work at this event during one week of exhibitions, concerts, performances and workshops. The headliner of the program was the legendary electronic band Gus Gus.
Work in progress
It is hard to speak with a journalist visiting Kosice. Answers about the European Capital of Culture always have to be phrased in the past or future tense. The present resembles a giant building site. With Kaserne Kulturpark and Kunsthalle under construction, galleries and theatres closed for repairs, cultural organizers are now facing a lack of premises. One month before the official opening, it is hard to imagine what next year will look like.
And Tabacka is going with the flow. With the support of regional funds, the centre began in November with its transformation into a cultural and creative center of a European format. New scenes, new gallery, new studios, improvement of the infrastructure and extension of the space, the aim is to create the best cultural incubator of the region. But the venue is now limited to the recently extended Fabricafe . Even so, concert, screenings and public talks are continuing in – let’s call it –an intimate atmosphere. An example of will for the other cultural players of Kosice.
A week in Tabacka
Ironically, Kaserne, former project Bona fide and their current competitor are showing two projects this week in Tabacka, with the bukowskian cover of Conor Mac Pherson's Rum and Vodka by the theatre company Kontra and Gaz for Magz, a multimedia presentation of alternative and arty Slovak magazines. The art centre continues its programming with concerts of Slovak Djs (Pjoni, Herzog herzog, Aches) from Exitab Label, which promotes music and visual arts at the intersection of minority subgenera.
This Friday the atmosphere of the bar was cosy, people were discussing more than actually listening to the music, the DJ set was not astounding. But this is not what really matters. Košice is changing. Košice is moving forward. This has not always been the case and nothing can ensure that the current turmoil and effervescence will continue. But the association Bona Fide did not wait for the wind to turn to the east to defend alternative culture in Košice. If the state decides to leave behind the team of European Capital of Culture after 2013, Tabačka Kulturfabrik will remain as the mainstay of the young art scene in Eastern Slovakia.
Moreover, the director makes no secret of his ambition and the name of the reconstruction project (Tabacka ako miesto Kultury 2014) as a word to the wise.