Childhood in former Czechoslovakia was so pure. I was not touched by anything I learned later or read in newspapers about oppression during communism. I definitely felt very secure and safe and all those clichés about communism, that everybody is equal and there is no crime.
Post-1989 emigrant Tag
Of course I knew America existed. I’d seen some movies. I was lucky enough from the environment where I was and within the art community to be able to get music, and more than probably normal people would, so I was exposed to that. I had this idea of a dreamy place where everything is just so nice and everything works and everybody has everything they need.
I remember the Revolution itself. I remember it sort of as a feeling. I know our parents, mostly because we were little, we watched it on TV. They did not go, because they had two little kids at home, they did not go zvonit klíči [jingling keys], as they call it, in the square, but we stayed at home and I just know that we felt that something essential was changing in our life.
My grandfather, when I was a little kid, he was always telling me that he’s going to go shoot bison in America because he said there was good land and there was lots of bison there, so it was his dream. But he was quite old and I’m not sure if he knew what he was talking about, but he read a lot of those books with Buffalo Bill and he kind of liked it and he thought he was going to make lots of money shooting those buffalo.
That was the great time in my life. I was in Bratislava, I was like 17 or something and the revolution started in… or some kind of signs of the revolution were in 1988 – the year before the real revolution, there was the candle demonstration. I remember I was in school, and they told us ‘don’t go there,’ and that kind of made us wonder, and we went there.
I would like to mention that life in Czechoslovakia in the early ‘70s, for a child, you couldn’t have anything better. It was very sweet. You could go anywhere as a child, especially in a small city like Strážnice: 6,000 people, two elementary schools, two churches, a high school. On one side you have vineyards and little hills; on the other side you have the Morava River with some sandy beaches and twists and turns in the river.
I was in class when it happened. Suddenly everybody went out. Everybody spent a couple of days, a couple of nights, on the streets, and we knew it was over. You knew from the beginning it was over. There was a lot of excitement because now we recognize multiple parties, multiple goals and strategies for how to make people happy in politics.
This is going to sound ridiculous – but as a child, I actually often played at the toilet, because it was a small room, about one by one square meter, and I would just close the toilet and that was my little desk, and I would draw and do whatever projects there because I think I always felt the need for my own space.