Graduation ceremony speech of the rector of the AFAD

Announcements of Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava.


Dear graduates of master's and doctoral degrees, dear ceremonial assembly,



I consider graduation speeches to be extremely important, because they should be a message about how we perceive the state and condition of our society in the current time and space, how we perceive the world we live in, how we think about it and what kind of future we imagine.


I am deeply convinced that talking to you about our country has its meaning. Despite the fact that today should be a celebration of your graduation, I cannot express my concern about the situation in which our society has found itself. Public things, our public sphere is meant to bring light to our lives, to our human affairs, by creating a space in which people can perform and demonstrate their words and actions and express who they are and what they can do. Not only today, but also in the past with the arrival of darkness, the light goes out because of a deficit of credibility and because of a language that does not clarify, but rather veils in the name of confirming old truths, stereotypes, myths or false traditions (H. Arendt). Today's times are extremely difficult, Slovakia is affected by a bad economic and social situation, national rhetoric, a divided society and various types of hardship and deficit. But the problem is not only in these circumstances, because we also faced similar facts in the past. The problem is how these critical situations, caused by political representatives, open the way to value crises. Because they directly affect our identity, who we are and where we are going, how humane we can behave on this path. We are very far from the definition of a well-governed country, many institutions do not work as they should, many are abolished and liquidated, justice in Slovakia still stands on shaky legs, while expertise and competence have no place in top politics. Our school is primarily interested in how cultural practice is organized by the relevant ministry. It is important to me that the environment of culture and art works well, because it creates space for the employment of our graduates.


Despite all the problems we have, it is important not to get scared under the onslaught of the weight we face. It always helps me to realize that this is not a constant state, that the endurance of civil society, in which we are all equal, is built on the determination to improve the quality of life in Slovakia, on the determination to seek redress. It is also important for me to perceive and understand the results of the life and work of specific people or collectives. To be happy about them, because we see how knowledge advances, how art advances, how design is interested in people, how restoration saves monuments and how architecture respects nature and the landscape more and more. In all these examples, we turn our face to respect, care, gentleness and creativity, suppressing our own ambitions in favor of the perception and understanding of others.


I often and like to think about your generation, I think that you have gone through very difficult situations in recent years, which have left you with a strong existential experience. I am often confronted in the media world with opinions that you are a fragile generation, that it is difficult for you to overcome obstacles. But I don't think that about you. Your strength and determination rest on different parameters and different decisions than it was with older generations. Some time ago I wrote you a letter in which I tried to explain that the crisis very often generates quality. Whipped emotions, deep anxiety states as well as strong decisions will mean that everything you do will be focused, concentrated, with a clear need to express yourself. You will be able to name the depth of what art should be, because you are a generation that in a short period of your life survived the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the curtailment of freedom and democracy in the cultural practice of our country.


As a generation, you will face many challenges, including the climate crisis, which raises the question of our finitude on this planet. You are the generation that has the courage to perceive this problem in its magnitude, at the same time you do not lose faith in the future, because you are already changing your habits, your lifestyle. The purpose for you is not to achieve desired goals, to overcome difficult and often unnecessary obstacles, but rather to establish harmony between human and society, between human and nature, between human and faith. This is what my generation is learning from you. And I am personally grateful for that.


Our country is not in a good state, it carries too much historical weight, problems and traumas on its shoulders. But relaxation will come with you. You will set up a system that will be considerate of nature, of people who come to our country from afar, that will be considerate of minorities and minorities that are among us, you will set up a system that will be fair and safe. The role of older generations will be to help and support you.


At the end of my speech, I would like to address the rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Lviv, Vasil Kosiv, and vice-rector Taras Lesiv, who are present here. Thank you for the bravery you show every day and thank you for our common friendship and mutual support. To our today's graduates from Ukraine, who are at here without their families, I want to say that today we are all your family.


Bohunka Koklesová

Rector of the AFAD

4. 7. 2024