Diera do sveta is a cultural centre and a specialist bookshop situated in the foothills of the Tatra mountains in northern Slovakia — Liptovský Mikuláš. This area is considered the periphery, from a cultural point of view — people go there mostly to hike or ski and not to search for contemporary design or philosophy. However, the dramaturgy of this place overshadows that of any cultural space in Bratislava (or other large cities).
Diera do sveta organises workshops, discussions, lectures, film screenings, theatre plays, performances and concerts, as well as two festivals — Artwife and Mobilis. Artwife is focused on education in feminism and gender equity, while Mobilis is multidisciplinary, with a different theme every year. It crosses the boundaries between philosophy and art and design, underlining the importance of knowledge production. For example, the 2021 edition focused on the creation of new narratives, myths and perspectives, while in 2020, pandemic-induced questions of solitude, closeness and intimacy were addressed.
An important ingredient in the programme is the critical reflection of contemporary social issues, but such that it emancipates people rather than leaves them in passive lament. By this, the centre wants to cultivate public discourse, educate, and give space to marginalised voices. Supporting ideas of feminism, ecology, horizontality and social participation, it brings new light to the part of the country that is too far removed from the intellectual atmosphere of Bratislava’s privileged social circles. It’s important to have hubs like these spread around the country, in order to balance the oversaturation of culture in the capital with culture in underdeveloped regions. Too many educated people have left the region, either for work or for lack of cultural stimuli, thus intensifying the growing gap. This division is apparent in politics, showing that the regions are extremely overlooked and misunderstood by politicians. This opens the door to populist politics and extremist views.
Giving locals regular food for thought, inspiring them with fresh ideas and alternative ways of life is critical, and it requires lots of energy and dedication. Curator Róbert Repka works with designers Barbora Bohušová, Šimon Chovan and the rest of the team to create an intellectually-demanding programme, despite the difficult COVID-19 times. They are aware of a precious but endangered connection with the audience. When the pandemic restrictions caused all cultural life in 2020 to cease, they immediately switched to online dramaturgy. However, this kind of cultural hub requires a physical presence in the area in order to fulfill its mission, inviting locals to participate in discussions and to mingle. Hopefully, the energy and motivation to continue will last and Diera do sveta will truly become an entrance to the world, attracting everyone to connect with international discourse and project it into the local setting.