What is a border? “Primarily, nothing more and nothing less than a real or imagined line, setting two things apart,” wrote the prominent Austrian philosopher Konrad P. Liessmann.1 According to him, a border is a precondition for us to be able to perceive and experience something. If everything was undifferentiated, there wouldn’t be anything to identify. Generally speaking, borders are important because that’s where two different powers always meet and can enrich each other. Thanks to the positive tension between them, the periphery allows for impulses and innovations to emerge, even if they couldn’t thrive in the center.
However our borderlands, formed after the foundation of Czechoslovakia, have problems. The six centuries of several nations’ coexistence ended with the misguided development of the 20th century which culminated in the expulsion of most of the local population. A desolate and devastated country was the only thing left behind. For this reason, Czechs don’t see the border, peripheral area as a place of impulses and innovations, but as a land of decline, oblivion, and a suppressed sense of guilt.
But the heart of the Czech public and moral life can’t be healed until the periphery is revived. Today, there are many activities trying to bring new life and restoration to the borderlands. Thanks to the efforts of many individuals and associations, the formerly abandoned land is now becoming more attractive. And restoration doesn’t always have to mean simple rebuilding of the original character of the villages, architecture, or landscape. Sometimes it is better to let nature do the work, or sometimes the historical context can be reinterpreted with contemporary language.
During my pilgrimages through Sudetenland, I have experienced all of its extremes from the kind-hearted locals and pristine nature to a land severely affected by its troubled past. Land that is bitter and resigned at first sight, but hides great potential and richness inside, just like the dilapidated barn next to the parsonage in Postoloprty where we accidentally found the remains of a Roman masonry once. Having been born in the Sudetenland, and being proud of it, I strive to remember its history, to distinguish the positives on both sides of the border, thus comprehending my position and role in the world. This issue of ERA21 also serves as a step towards understanding the past and present of our borderlands. This is important because, as architect Matěj Páral, co-founder of the platform Ústí///Aussig, once said: “It is easy to destroy what you don’t know – restoration of memory is the problematization of destruction.”2
1 Konrad Paul Liessmann: Chvála hranic. Academia, Praha, 2014.
2 Lukáš Beran – Vladislava Valchářová (eds.): Průmyslové dědictví Ústeckého kraje – mapování a revitalizace. Sborník z konference v Ústí nad Labem. VCPD – ČVUT v Praze, 2008, str. 69.
Filip Landa (*1984, Litoměřice) je architekt a od roku 2017 šéfredaktor časopisu ERA21. Vystudoval Fakultu umění a architektury TU v Liberci. Je spoluzakladatelem databází architektury Liberec:Reichenberg a Litoměřice|||Leitmeritz a spoluautorem knih Střed Liberce v proměnách staletí (TU v Liberci, 2011) a Topographie der Bauten der Moderne / Topografie staveb moderní architektury (Stiftung Haus Schminke, 2014). V rámci pěších poutí ušel asi 2 000 km napříč litoměřickou diecézí, která zahrnuje pohraniční oblasti Jizerských, Lužických a Krušných hor, Ralské pahorkatiny, Českosaského Švýcarska a především Českého středohoří.Send e-mail back »
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