Refraction of Love

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The fable of The Secret of The Mirror in Pistori Palace by Martina Ivičič.

Once upon a time there was a man who was very afraid, unsure of himself, hated other people, spread hatred and did nothing but evil around him. He ran angrily down the staircase of the palace and his face was illuminated by rays of light, all kinds of lights, colours and rainbow reflections. “Ugh!”, he spat. ” I would ban the rainbow and cut the sun’s rays with my sword. I despite you!” He walked up the stairs until he came to a mirror. There was something strange about that mirror. It had attracted the attention of an angry man. Suddenly he froze, relaxed his clenched fist, and almost stopped breathing. His gaze began to follow a series of reflections from one point to another until it settled on one point. He saw his image true and real. He finally recognized himself. The sight was so penetrating that all the present reflections, rays of color and rainbow tones spoke to him with the kindness of a mother to a child. His eyes sparkled with happiness, he smiled, and from the palace strode a man warmed by love.

Pistori palace has a particular history. It was built in the middle of 19th century as a mansion and an outlet of a pharmacist, who’s name it carries till today. During the Socialist era – from 1948 to 1989 – it was reworked into a museum of Vladimir Iljic Lenin. After the Velvet Revolution, it was claimed by the municipality of Bratislava and after quite some years of further decay, it eventually transformed into a cultural and event venue.

Changing the discourses, paradigms and histories, the interior of the palace has been changing accordingly. Most of what is accessible to public seems orderly today. There are some details however, that simply don’t work. Besides parts of Lenin’s museum collecting dust on the attic there is one such detail – a mirror above the staircase in its main entrance hall. It is positioned so high up, that no one can ever look into it directly, dispite being the focal artistic element of the staircase. The mirror is a property of Gallery of Bratislava, but since they had no immediate use for it and Lenin’s posters were not meant to stick up there any longer, they lent it to Pistori palace, perhaps as a temporary decoration. Decades later, the mirror still hangs in the very same place.

Perhaps, it hides much more than what it reveals. The potential of light, reflection and love that is immanent in a place, but remains inacessible to us. By constructing a handmade “replica” of it and directing the light towards it, we hoped to connect it back to the ecosystem that includes and excludes it all at once, and invite the refraction of love to do the miracles for those who are ready for the (self)reflection.

The work is accompained by a bootleg of Beáta Dubasová’s classic “Vráť mi tie hviezdy” (Bring those stars back to me) performed on an automated crystal bowls orchestra. Give the original a listen at