Four parades, symbolising the Four Spirits of Wrocław, marched from four neighbourhoods of the city towards the Market Square. Telling the history of the Lower Silesian capital, The Awakening inaugurated the start of European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016.
The show, created by the British artist Chris Baldwin, started at dusk on Saturday 16th January 2016. Four parades marched out of four city neighbourhoods, each of them led by one of the Spirits of Wrocław: the Spirit of Many Faiths; the Spirit of Innovation; the Spirit of Rebuilding; and the Spirit of the Flood.
Baldwin explained the origin of his idea:
‘Spirit’ suggests ‘essence’. And that is what we wanted to invoke here. We didn’t intend to create a historical procession. Rather, we wanted to uncover the ‘essence’ of the city, ultimately something much more metaphorical and poetic.
The Spirit of the Flood symbolised the citizens’ fight against the destructive flood (known in Poland as the Millennium Flood) that hit the region and its capital in 1997. The Spirit of Rebuilding explained the history of Wrocław right after World War II. According to the organisers:
It tells the story of the people who lost everything who during their journey and new experiences have learned how to function in a new, nascent society.
The Spirit of Innovation showed the symbiosis of technology and nature, referencing the image of Wrocław as a city developing a knowledge-based economy. The Spirit of Many Faiths invoked the multicultural past of Wrocław and its legacy.
The Four Spirits met in the Market Square, where during the course of an hour the four metal constructions were joined into one. During the making of the huge installation, the audience saw performances on each of the four topics. The show was also enriched by light mapping and illuminations on the buildings in the Market Square.
The bell ringing on the top of the installation marked the end of the spectacle. From the tower of the Town Hall, three actors dressed as angels came down while orchestra members appeared in the windows.
The Awakening joined the forces of 1,300 artists, 200 choir singers, 50 soldiers, 20 orchestra musicians, and 300 cyclists. According to city officials, 50,000 citizens took part in the parades and 100,000 in the entire show. The Awakening was the second part of the Flow Quartet project, directed by Baldwin. The first one was Bridges, a project realised in June 2015, during which each of the city’s 27 bridges was turned into a space for artistic performances. 11th June 2016 will see the next part of the project, Flow, featuring concerts, performances and happenings on the Oder river. The last part of the cycle will be Sky, the closing ceremony of the ECOC on 17th December.
During the three days of the opening weekend, there were around 100 cultural events to choose from, spanning across all artistic disciplines. Wrocław’s inhabitants visited museums and galleries in large numbers. Almost 1,000 people came to the opening of the Eduardo Chillida exhibition and as many visited the Made in Europe exhibition in the Museum of Architecture. Crowds watched the evening fire shows on Słodowa Island.
There are numerous attractive events planned throughout the year. Legendary film score composer Ennio Morricone will perform in February, and David Gilmour, Pink Floyd’s vocalist and guitarist, will play a couple months later. April will see a special edition of Jazz on the Odra, directed by Leszek Możdżer, celebrating International Jazz Day. In the spring, Wrocław will also be bestowed the title of World Book Capital by UNESCO. In June, the Municipial Stadium will host a spectacular opera: Spanish Night with Carmen – Zarzuela Show.
The autumn will be a celebration of theatre, with the city hosting the seventh edition of the Theatre Olympics. Presenting the achievements of the greatest theatre creators worldwide, the subtitle for this year’s olympiad is The World as a Place of Truth. December, on the other hand, will be a cinematic feast: Wrocław will host the prestigious Euroean Film Awards. All the festivals organised in Wrocław, including Brave Festival, Avant Art Festival, American Film Festival, Stage Songs Review and Wrocław Good Books Fair will have their own special editions.
Wrocław shares the title of the European Capital of Culture with San Sebastian (the capital of Gipzukoa, Basque Autonomous Community, Spain).
Sources: PAP, press materials, compiled by PW, translated by OK, 19 Jan 2016