Zuzana Bartošová

* 1946  

  • Vladimir Meciar won elections and already in his first speech on television personally recalled me from the function- he said, farewell to Mrs Bartosova as a director of SNG. I didn’t know about it. My husband was just accompanying our daughter to our friends in High Tatras and he called me to Liptovsky Mikulas.“Zuzana, do you know, that you were just recalled from the function?“ Meciar just said that on the TV.“ And I did not yet realise the horror, so I organised a press conference, where I protested as if we were living in a free world. I was invited to the Ministry of Culture, where minister Slobodnik and his deputy Mjartan interrogated me. And it turned out that the biggest problem was the House of Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship, which the SNG acquired during my predecessor as an adjacent building. This building owned by the Ministry of Culture was attributed to the SNG, but the Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship Union did not want to move out of there. So the SNG, led by Fero Guldan, led litigation with the Union. Part of the lawsuit was to solve, where to put the valuable Russian library. I was personally begging, that this collection could be taken to the municipal library. It turned out that every director who promised to accept this library, was scared, he was visited by a representative from Soviet consulate and threatened. They had that library as a position backup. And only afterwards did I realize, after questioning at the Ministry of Culture, that it was a landmark for them - that there were certainly directories. At that time there was no internet, at most a telephone was tapped, and those personal meetings had to take place somewhere, somewhere they had to keep registered addresses. And in the SNG, we have already been granted permission from the Court to move everyone - both the staff and the library. The workers behind the armoured door were renamed the Pan-European Union, but they were still the same people. Perhaps that was why the appeal was so immediate, to prevent SNG (with my signature) from moving this neuralgic point that friends of the Soviet Union knew and used for decades to another place.

  • Professor Tomas Strass wanted me to join the communist party. He selected me at university, he even prepared my application, but after the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies, and after Michalides became the head of the party unit, the request to join the party wasn’t up-to-date anymore. I was even glad. All illusions my illusions disappeared. And the people, who joined the party after 1968, were mainly career communists, who understood that communism could not be changed from below, from inside, unless big brother allows that.

  • We had a vision of how democracy should work. We shared knowledge with parents from the first Czechoslovak Republic, so we had a clear vision of manners of people in certain positions. And I did not expect, the state would not follow the rules, that it would not pay, or discriminate against people, who gained their functions through a regular competition based on professional criteria. The worst was that no one spoke in our defence, everyone remained indifferent. I think fear was an important factor, but the new structures seemed powerless to me.

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    Bratislava, 15.05.2019

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A supporter of the unofficial art scene during socialism, after revolution director of Slovak National Gallery

Zuzana Bartosova was born on October 30, 1946 in Bratislava into a family of a banker and democrat, as the youngest of three children. Between 1964-1969 she studied History of Art at the Faculty of Arts of Comenius University in Bratislava. As a student, she experienced the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies and the ensuing impact of normalisation of the socialist regime on tertiary education and art. She worked as a curator of 20th century sculpture collection in the Slovak National Gallery, and she actively participated in the unofficial art scene. She was married twice, her second husband was Ladislav Snopko, the main organiser of the Velvet Revolution in Bratislava and minister of culture after 1989. In 1990, she became the director of Slovak National Gallery for four years. Afterwards, she worked in education, in Slovak Academy of Sciences and since 2005, she is in charge of the Foundation of contemporary Slovak visual art in Bratislava.