The first local news was: “The artist Tomáš Rafa realised on Wednesday November 30, 2011, a big billboard on the controversial “wall of sports” in Michalovce. This wall divided in 2009 the Eastern quarter of Michalovce town from the Roma settlement Angi mlyn. Officially built as place for sport, the wall is up to today missing any sport activity. That is why Tomáš Rada, ôately lwarded the Oskar Čepan’s prize for young artist for the year 2011, used motives of colorful sporting kids with soccer balls. The billboard is 96 meters long and 3 meters high and is printed from outside (from the view from Angi mlyn). The first reactions of local citizens have been positive and the city of Michalovce has agreed with this creation.”
The truth and original intention has been different though. Tomáš Rafa has visited already few “walls against Roma inhabitants” and filmed critical situations of co-living of majority with minority in Eastern Slovakia. His idea of course has not only been to make this wall nicer. The concept came from his soccer match close to the wall with Roma kids in 2009 and it was the photo document of the action.
The mayor and other employees of Michalovce refused the first idea having fear of accusation from supporting ethnic tensions. We could stop the whole project or realise it illegally. However, we have decided to go on in communication with the city officials and the result is more then a compromise. There is nothing from the original idea, it is colorful and empty as our disability to solve the real problem behind these “walls”.
The project Sporting Wall has been produced by Stanica with the financial support of Ministry of Culture of Slovakia (Košice – European Culture Capital 2013 program). We also would like to thank for great cooperation on printing and production of the billboard to the Gryf company from Žilina.