Inaugural Concert of the I, CULTURE Orchestra at the Solidarity Of Art Festival, Gdańsk, August 24th, 2011. Photo: Łukasz Unterschuetz
As Poland's EU Presidency draws to a close, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute reflects on its future impact on the nation's image as a leader in the cultural life of Europe
The Presidency focused around six major flagship projects initiated by the Institute and drawn from the life and works of major Polish artists and thinkers - Czesław Miłosz (Miłosz Audiobook series), Karol Szymanowski (Szymanowski Concert Series) and Stanisław Lem (Planet Lem Tour), as well as Poland's role in the forging of future talents within the Eastern Partnership (I, CULTURE Orchestra), the cultural significance of traditional handiwork and crafts (I, CULTURE Contemporary Craft Workshop) and the exploration of the Polish creative character through a brand-new documentary film series (Guide to the Poles). In addition, there were some 300 additional events worldwide that came under the Culture Ministry's special programme that spanned major art, literature, musical and theatrical productions. A calendar of hundreds more events throughout Poland rounded out the offer for a truly global public.
The cities that hosted these events spanned the major European capitals - Warsaw, London, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Kiev, Moscow, Mińsk - venturing even to the Asian capitals of Beijing and Tokyo, along with a special edition of the I, CULTURE Contemporary Craft Workshop, which brought volunteers from around to the world to complete the I, CULTURE puzzle made across 12 capitals into a global quilt that makes a statement on the role of traditional crafts in an increasingly technologically-driven world.
The International Cultural Programme of the Polish EU Presidency 2011, was carried out as a mandate of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the tagline I, CULTURE. It grew into the largest-ever promotional project in the history of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. Poland’s first-ever presidency of the EU Council was an ideal opportunity to develop the Polska brand and to foster the country’s image in the international arena as a modern and unique nation with a rich heritage and burgeoning contemporary culture. It was the perfect chance to present Poland as a creative enclave of Europe.
While the Presidency coincided with a period of economic difficulties for the European Union, Poland still managed to capture the attention of the media and the public, gathering a collective audience of 19 million over the six month term. The influential Flemish magazine Knack declared that the Polish government made wonderful use of the country’s assets in the field of culture, heralding Polska as "A brand to be trusted". The presidency’s cultural programme consisted of more than 400 events held in 10 capital cities: Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Kyiv, London, Madrid, Minsk, Moscow, Paris, and Tokyo. It was realised in collaboration with foreign partners, Polish culture institutions and branches of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs - embassies, consulates and Polish Institutes. Yet, the crucial role in the programme’s inception and execution was played by the artists who took part.
In an interview with kulturaonline.pl, Paweł Potoroczyn, director of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw, expressed his belief that the performance of Karol Szymanowski's magnus opus "King Roger" was the most spectacular event of the Presidency Cultural Programme and its greatest success is "the fact that Szymanowski is now being played everywhere in the world, in the most prestigious concert halls by the best orchestras and soloists".
Potoroczyn also singled out the performance of Planet Lem, which was performed before tens of thousands of people in the centres of urban metropolises and the publication of the Miłosz Audibook in ten language editions, enjoyed by a total of half a million listeners.
The Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency was officially inaugurated on the 1st of July with the first performance of Karol Szymanowski's "King Roger" opera at the National Opera House, taking the stage at Brussels' La Monnaie in September. The works of Poland's most prolific composer after Chopin continued to grace the most prestigious concert halls of Europe, performed by world-renowned soloists and orchestras, including the ambitious I, CULTURE Orchestra, which has brought together young musical talents from all over Eastern Partnership countries and give them an opportunity to polish their skills under the masterful watch of conductors Sir Neville Marriner and Paweł Kotła.
Major exhibitions and retrospectives devoted to the oeuvre of Polish artists of the past and present have made a substantial part of the 2011 events calendar - from the monumental sculptures of Alina Szapocznikow and the Power of Fantasy group show of modern and contemporary art in Brussels to Wilhelm Sasnal's solo show in London and Mirosław Bałka's show of video works in Berlin. In Madrid, the history and culture of Poland was traced through its art and artifacts as part of the Golden Age of the Polish Republic exhibition, while Germany hosted Side by Side. 1000 Years of Art and History, which explored cultural and historic links between the neighbours over centuries of war and peace. The exhibition of Polish Poster Art in Moscow bridges 2011 and 2012 with a presentation of close to 100 posters created over decades by Poland's most brilliant designers.
The poetry of Poland, the images created by its artists, its cinema and its unique style of theatre has put it on the world map of artistic merit for over a century. Yet 2011 offered Poland a unique opportunity to drive home the strength of its message and the greatness of its form in spite of a history filled with political and social strife. The 1st of January does not entail and end to the rich store of cultural goods Poland has to offer - a number of exhibitions continue to run through the end of the month, while Warsaw's Zachęta National Gallery prepares for an exhibition summarising the achievements of the most successful projects that came about over the past six months. The exhibition is set to open on the 3rd of February and will last through the 19th of Feburary, 2011.
Source: Adam Mickiewicz Institute