Living In Harmony with the Past: Authentic Interiors of Banská Štiavnica
Curated by Elizabeth Yenchko, historic preservationist
August 22 – October 5, 2012
In 1992, I moved to Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia, a city founded in the early 13th century and once renowned for its silver and gold mining. As a result, my life changed forever. To become part of a community where one arrives as a guest and leaves close to being a native is a powerful experience. I learned a new rhythm of life – a rhythm of today, yet deeply rooted in harmony with the past. Interiors like these were my classrooms, their inhabitants my teachers. One does not “plant” the trappings of present-day life into a centuries-old dwelling; rather they are grafted to and become an extension of the living past – both past and present retaining their distinctive character while providing a secure, comfortable home.
- Elizabeth Yenchko
Yet another chapter of the mining town comes to a close. The old inhabitants of Banská Štiavnica will slowly die away. And together with them also die the lifestyle absorbed by the stone vaulted ceilings, the cracked plaster and wooden floors, and the stories lived and told in once-stylish salons and dark kitchens.
Undoubtedly, an exceptional gravity pulses through Banská Štiavnica. The magical atmosphere of the town constantly draws in new settlers. Only those stay who understand that the town, out of principle, scorns cheap jewelry. It's not easy to become a citizen of Štiavnica. Life here always has been and always will be backbreaking drudgery. But where else would you find such an amazing town? (From Štiavnica Interiors)
…. A commercial approach to cultural heritage and a false nostalgia are not the right answers to the fundamental human need to care for the past. Attention to the past is much more than a compensation for a present-day crisis situation. Apart from its constructive function in terms of cultural identity, the past can contribute to the quality of our present-day life.
- Marc Laenen, 1989, former director, International Centre
for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
Living In Harmony With the Past: Authentic Interiors of Banská Štiavnica, an exhibition of photographs and stories from the award-winning publication Štiavnica Interiors, by Andrea Niznanská and Iveta Chovanová, is part of the symposium “Urban/Rural Preservation Days,” which explores the various ways people around the world participate in preserving cultural heritage.
Organized by Juraj Kittler, associate professor in the performance and communication arts and English departments, and funded by St. Lawrence University’s Arts Collaborative, the symposium brings together several notable figures, including Michel Bonnette (Québec, Canada), architect, urban planner and former president of the Canadian chapter of UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites; Steven Engelhart (Keeseville, New York), executive director, Adirondack Architectural Heritage; Michael Frenette (Tupper Lake, New York), master craftsman for the Adirondack Great Camp Santanoni, a U.S. National Historic Landmark; Francesco Lupi (Florence, Italy), preservation architect and educator; and Katarína Vošková (Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia), preservation educator and civic activist.
For a complete list of activities and events taking place during the symposium, September 9-12, 2012, please visit www.stlawu.edu/artscollaborative/preservationdays.html.