Discussion with Lýdia Pribišová, environmentalist Andrea Froncová, ecologist Ján Topercer and biologist Ján Kadlečík
October 14, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., live stream on tranzit.sk Facebook page.
Andrea Froncová, Ján Topercer, Ján Kadlečík
A swamp is a fascinating ecosystem evoking associations of the unknown, the dangerous, the unpredictable, the protean. To pass through a swamp means to place yourself at the mercy of a mixture of knowledge and faith, as wetland ecologist Jano Topercer writes of his memory of slogging through the bogs of the Muddus National Park in Northern Sweden. To pass through it is to try one’s luck, to rely on one’s reckoning, luck and questionable clusters of vegetation.
Swamps, or wetlands, the term used more frequently in scientific terminology, can be extremely diverse and even experts have yet to agree on their specific definition. The introduction to the publication entitled Understanding Wetlands laconically states, a wetland is whatever a competent expert says it is. Similar expressions and approximate synonyms include swamp, moor, bog, wetland and many others.
Understanding Wetlands contains 15 different definitions of wetlands. Based on the scientific criteria, the European Nature Information System (EUNIS) defines hundreds of wetland biotopes types at 3 to 4 levels just for Europe and the surrounding seas.
Quite often, swamps are ironically defined according to what they lack, and therefore they create negative emotions. Swamps are not so much a specific type of landscape, but an open-ended and variable term which can be used for a wide range of environments. People try to take over wetlands, to gain control over them.
As Vittoria Di Palma writes, swamps are usually connected with various types of marginality: spatial, social, spiritual, political, economic and aesthetic. They were also considered to be a utopia – a place of freedom, experimentation and resistance. Since it is difficult to find your way in them, swamps are a shelter for refugees, and other pursued and persecuted individuals. However, a swamp is also a metaphor for a wise, self-regulating ecosystem which can serve as an example of a well-balanced state.
We will talk about its positive qualities with environmentalist Andrea Froncová, ecologist Ján Topercer and biologist Ján Kadlečík.
Andrea Froncová is an environmentalist at BROZ – Bratislavské regionálne ochranárske združenie (Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development) where she works as communication manager and project manager for DANUBEparksCONNECTED. She is interested in issues related to wetlands, forest conservation and practical nature conservation.
When she worked at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University, she was involved in removing heavy metals from the environment, and during her internship the Water Institute in Granada, Spain she worked on removing oil products from the marine environment. She cooperates with the Central European Foundation as a member of the Danube Fund circle of advisers. She is interested in the interconnection of nature conservation and spheres such as architecture and art.
Ján Topercer is an independent scientist at the Comenius University Botanical Garden in Blatnica. He is engaged in the ecology of communities and landscape, ornithology, vertebrate zoology, biogeography, biology, nature conservation, sustainability, forestry, methodology, conceptual thinking and informed/evidence-based decision making. He strives to apply scientific knowledge all the way down (up?) to practice – reality (not virtual) through educational and legally enforceable lines. He has written more than 200 scientific and technical articles and monographs on these topics and with varying degrees of success he has also resolved approximately the same number of specific practical problems. During the discussion he will explain the context of sensory stimuli and experience, intellectual knowledge, aesthetics, ethics and “practices” of wetlands. He will talk about their diversity and variability, development, the legacies of their use, and the disappearance of human experience with them and about what it does to wetlands and us.
Ján Kadlečík is a biologist, professional (and volunteer) conservationist and coordinator of international conventions on the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic in Banská Bystrica, where he is involved in issues related to the implementation of conventions oriented on nature conservation, including the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on Biodiversity, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and the Carpathian Convention. Since 2004 he has been the initiator and coordinator of the Carpathian Wetland Initiative – CWI – one of 19 “Ramsar regional initiatives” in the world, promoting cooperation on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention and its Strategic Plan. He is also the Slovak delegate to Wetlands International and other institutions. He will talk about the link between culture in wetlands and wetlands in culture and about the inclusion of wetlands conservation and restoration in various national policies and projects.
Lýdia Pribišová is a curator at Kunsthalle Bratislava and editor-in-chief of the magazine Flash Art Czech & Slovak Edition. She works in Bratislava. From 2013 to 2015 she worked as project coordinator at tranzit.sk. In 2007 and 2011 she was co-curator of the Slovak section at the Prague Biennale and co-curator of the biennale at Kaunas, Lithuania in 2019. She has also curated events at many public and private institutions in Slovakia and abroad.
This event will be held in English. It is a part of the current exhibition entitled Swamp Intelligence at tranzit.sk.
ERSTE Foundation is main partner of tranzit. Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council and Bratislava City Foundation and the Lithuanian Council for Culture.
Photo: Jan Topercer archive
Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas: Swamp Intelligence