Agata Siwiak is a curator and producer of many of the most interesting Polish art festivals: inter alia Wrocław’s Dialogue (Dialog), Kraków’s Re_visions (re_wizje) and the far-famed social – artistic project Wielkopolska:Revolutions which earned her a nomination for Polityka’s Passports 2013. What juries appreciate most is her persistence in struggling against art’s traditionalism.
Born in 1974, she is a graduate of the Faculty of the Cultural Studies at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. She was a curator and producer of numerous art festivals including Wrocław’s Dialogue (dialog) and EuroDrama, Kraków’s Re_visions (re_wizje) and baz@art. In 2008 and 2009, she co-headed the grand Four Cultures Festival in Łódź. In 2011, she coordinated The Trickster – a prestigious performing arts project organised by Wrocław’s European Cultural Congress. Since 2012 she has been a curator of the Wielkopolska:Revolutions – one of the most significant cultural programmes carried out in Poland.
Wielkopolska:Revolutions could serve as a role model for innovative, modern and non-dogmatic thinking about the significance of art in the present day – says Anna R. Burzyńska, a journalist for Didaskalia.
We usually associate revolutions with big cities, metropolises and world’s centres as their impact on reality is huge. In Wielkopolska:Revolutions project, together with the artists, we take care of micro-revolutions, which may not make the headlines but still happen to be creative, crazy and revolutionary! We intend to ignite peaceful, ethical revolutions, which encourage people to enhance their social commitment and live a life full of passion – explains Agata Siwiak.
The idea for a revolution was pretty simple: to change ordinary people into artists. For this purpose, a group of seven outstanding polish artists (e.g. two other nominees of Polityka’s Passports: avant-garde pianist and composer Marcin Masecki and theatre creator Michał Borczuch) travelled across the villages and small towns of Wielkopolska (a region in western Poland) and worked with its inhabitants on various theatrical, musical and dance projects. The outcome far exceeded expectations. They created stirring and socially important works that were widely discussed all over Poland. Among other interesting actions, a group of reporters, guided by Włodzimierz Nowak, carried out journalism workshops with female prisoners from Leszno prison. Their photos and interviews were later presented on the stage of Nowy Theatre in Poznań in a form of quasi–play with the participation of its actors, as well as published in a popular magazine.
Marcin Masecki wrote a symphony for the Volunteer Fire Department Brass Band entitled The Victory, which they performed with the Poznań Philharmonic. Mikołaj Mikołajczak (a renowned opera singer), along with a group of senior choir singers, created an outstanding physical theatre spectacle based on the popular Polish historical novel Nights and Days (Noce i dnie by Anna Dąbrowska). Apart from being asked to dance for the first time in their lives, the choir singers were encouraged to express their thoughts on maturity, fulfilment and issue of summarising one’s life.
Paweł Grobelny – an architect and designer - worked with the inhabitants of the tiny Zarzew community to turn one of the undeveloped buildings in town into a cultural centre. With the support of Zarzew’s mayor and thanks to their commitment to social work they managed to refurbish a major part of the building.
Finally, another Polityka's nominee, Michał Borczuch, considered as one of the most talented theatre creators of his generation prepared a play - Better Not Go There (Lepiej tam nie idź). The participants consisted of children from an orphanage and youths from the local amateur theatre. Under the supervision of well-known stage designers, they managed to create an entire set on their own then performed a play with professional actors Marta Ojrzyńska and Krzysztof Zarzecki.
In the play, children enact the roles of grown-ups. ‘You earn half a Euro an hour and you’re still unhappy? So now you will be paid a quarter!’ – shouts a little girl pretending to be an evil employer. It’s a play on humiliation and denunciation, on cheating and insulting. It is the children’s image of the present day world, shit jobs and everyday struggles – Witold Mrozek, journalist of Gazeta Wyborcza, said.
sources: Polityka.pl, Wielkopolskie Rewolucje, Gazeta Wyborcza, ed. AL, January 2014
translated with edits by Wojciech Oleksiak, January 2014