Sunday, January 09, 2005


Stúrovo is named after Ludovít Stúr, a 19th-century nationalist and linguist. The Slovak grammar is based on his work. But in Stúrovo most people use the Hungarian language. Including Hungarian names. That means most people talk about “Parkany” instead of “Stúrovo”, a name which is in fact not Hungarian at all but Turkish: a reminder of the Turkish occupation which happened centuries ago.
I don’t know which name to use. So I use them both. If you’d put a knife on my throat and ask me which name I like best I would say Stúrovo. This doesn’t mean I have Slovak nationalistic tendencies. I just like the sound of the word “Stúrovo” more than the sound of the word “Parkany”.

On our first day in Stúrovo-Parkany, Gyuri showed us a memorial stone in the small park near my house. It commemorated the take-over of the city by the Turkish. Withered floral wreaths laid by its side.
It turned over my head. My imagination ran away with me and flowers started growing in my head. One tulip, ten tulips, hundreds of tulips, feeding on my brain.
The “Dutch” tulip is the dubious symbol of Holland, there’s even a song “Tulips from Amsterdam”. In fact the Turkish are the rightfull owners of this culture symbol since “we” imported it centuries ago in large quantities from Turkey to make it “our” national symbol.
I thought about a Dutch bridge guard in a Slovak city that was once occupied by the Turkish and pondered over a way to conquer this area with the help of an innocent flower.

So I went to Billa. This is a large supermarket, on the edge of the centre of town and very near the bridge. The large supermarkets are the most recent conquerers of this city. There’s also Coop and Tesco, they all came after the bridge was restored to eat away the income from the local shops. Billa also sells tulip bulbs. I bought 200 bulbs, in different sizes and with a promise of different colurs. “Product of Holland. Aus Kulturmaterial vermehrt”.
During my “explorative” walks through Stúrovo and Esztergom I will plant them at arbitrary places, one by one. In every new street, park, corner I encounter, I will plant one. In spring they will grow and bloom. Not just on this side, but on the other side as well. And people can see: the bridgeguard was here.
I thought of a name. “Biological graffiti”.


Post a Comment

<< Home