To Whom It May Concern:
In the role of a teacher I stayed at Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava during the last week of March 2017. The mobility was made possible via programme Erasmus+. I arranged this mobility period, as well as its content, with acting chief of Visual Communication dpt, mr Marcel Benčik, with a supervision from vice-rector for international cooperation, Ms Nina de Gelder.
In general, I used this stay in a most wide and contentful manner, at the academy where I spent my student days. Therefore, I found the familiar surroundings, a number of my former teachers, as well as my peers at the visual communication dpt. – nowdays acting teachers. Least but not the last, I met students at the Department. As an academic coordinator at FVU I also made fruitful contacts on higher institutional level, during my meetings with: Stanislav Stankoci, AFAD Rector, Pavol Choma, Chairman of AFAD Senate, all of vice-rectors and already mentioned Marcel Benčik, the acting chief of visual communication dpt. Out of official frames, I met former chiefs of Studio 305 where I studied, Ľubomir Longauer and Julo Nagy. The stay was also an opportunity to warm up friendship with a number of my schoolmates and friends from musical grounds, whom I participated in numerous concerts, recordings and plays with.
On first day I came to Bratislava via Vienna. First thing I did was to arrange all administrative obligations with Ms Veronika Selingerová at AFAD. After that I had a pleasant working lunch with mr Marcel Bencik and esteemed vice/rectors for international cooperation Nina de Gelder, for research and art Bohunka Koklesova, for studies Jana Hojstricova and for projects and grants Silvia Jokelova. In a familiar yet official atmosphere I presented recent developments and activities at FVU, with a stress on further broadening of mobilities, as well as exchange of staff and curricula. I concluded out of discussion that our schools are similar, compatible even in a formal legislative way, sharing no serious obstacles for further cooperation. It goes without saying that there is a significant difference between countries (Montenegro is currently “only” a partner country, while Slovakia has a status of a program country at E+ platform), but it should not have any importance in exchange we started. Range of themes of this fruitful meeting could be framed by these key word: mobilities, capacity building, EQF, vocational qualification at HEI level, learning outcomes, joint master degree studies, summer schools and common subjects among curricula, diplomas ad certificates. The meeting ended in a very pleasant atmosphere of full understanding and readyness for widening the cooperation.
The same afternoon I spent in the company of mr Ľubomír Longauer, whose student I was happy to be during my first study years. It was an opportunity to meet an undoubtable authority in the field of history and creativity in slovak graphic design and typography. In the company of few colleagues from study days, I spent few hours, dealing and discussing cultural, language, artistic, vocational and many other aspects and issues. This intense evening ended up with a feeling that many issues we managed only to scratch, themes that are very important to me, for my intimacy as well as to my profession.
The second day was reserved for my pedagogical work at the Department. Marcel invited me to spend morning hours with him in his studio 303, by joining him in consultation lectures. This honor I used to evaluate and advance my own methods of consulting. Familiar environment in studio made an impression to me that basic principals of pedagogical work has not changed at all, yet that gained a new more sofisticated form. Namely, it is more than obvious that both of us (Marcel at AFAD and me at FVU) deal with the similar generation shift, which leads to continuous innovation of the approach to students of 21st century, to students that are merged into the whole new medial and interactive world, where everything is two clicks away. In studio I also met our FVU students, Aleksandar Perišić and Anastasija Višnjić, that are currently at E+ mobility in Bratislava. I felt very proud of them, since they fulfill their obligations on an advanced level.
Afterward I had the working lunch with Rector of AFAD, mr Stanislav Stankoci and with Chairman of AFAD Senate, mr Pavol Choma, of course accompanied by my host, Marcel Benčík. This meeting was an expession of full understaning and readyness for cooperation. More or less, all topics I started with vice-rectors the day before was brought up on table once again and I got most positive reactions and expressions of commitment.
After lunch I held the lecture based on the specifics of designing processes in Montenegro, by presenting my own portfolio. Audience at Department included cca 30 students from Czech Republic too, which added some more international dimension to it. Around one hour lecture I had a main goal to give students an opportunity to compare two different environments of profession: domestic and foreign one / montenegrin environment which is full of obstacles in production. Several times I heard a comment: this is like 20 years ago here. By having spoken freely about my own works of art and pointing out their characteristics and “alibies”, I am sure that I brought to local community valuable suggestions how to avoid similiar ommisions and-or misstakes.
The evening I spent with my friends musicians, members of several choirs from Bratislava. It was overwhelming and full of emotion, typical for close friends bounded by music.
The third day I dedicated to our students from FVU, to Aleksandar and Anastasija. I made them a personal guided tour through the city. This situation of an unusual meeting in foreign county led us to a closer talk and untouched topics. Shortly, I verified my pleasure of knowing those people and of the fact that they are our first ambassadors to AFAD in Bratislava.
Afternoon and evening I reserved for my schoolmates from Studio 305, Katarina Czikorová and Radko Čepček. Katarina made an effort to travel all the way from Brno, where she teaches graphic design at IT school.
First we attended the opening of the exhibition of Polish graphical symbols and afterwards ended up in a bar, remembering student days and professional successes. We realised that we should celebrate a jubilee of 10 years after school. In Montenegro? Who knows.
The fourth day was my second pedagogical day – a workshop in the Studio 303 at Drotarská. The topic was the creative work of a graphic designer in a bigraphic society, that is a society that uses simultaneously two scripts: latin and cyrillic. During my short lecture, accompanied by appropriate slides, I presented to Slovak students specifities of practical environment in design and typography in Montenegro. This leaded to a fertile discussion and I came to a conclusion that it enlightened the situation students might experience in their future professional moments. After the discussion, students got a task to solve some diacritical problems that appeared in recent orthography (therefore in typography as well) in Montenegro which they coped well with.
The same day I attended by public lectures of Ľubomír Longauer and Pavol Bálik, dedicated to historical and contemporary in Slovak typography. Afterwords I acquired some valuable literature published by AFAD.
The fifth day of my stay I used to summarize the mobility as a whole with Marcel Benčík and to make our common conclusions, which are mostly positive. We identified some minor omissions that can be used for further advancements in our cooperation and exchange.
Already bulked with vocational literature I got from school, from Marcel personally, still I used the rest of the day to visit local bookstores to complete my personal library I could share at FVU. After having completed this once again I came to a conslusion that I have to promote at home slovak and czech publishing culture that is significantly based on original creation and on translating best foreign titles as well.
I left Bratislava full of pleasure and certainity, as for myself, as for future cooperation between FVU and AFAD.
Prof.mr Nikola Latković, MFA
Faculty of Visual Arts Podgorica