In the course of 3 weeks, 75 thousand people took part in 300 events. Over 1000 artists, activists and intellectuals from 19 countries contributed to the festival programme, which featured theatre and dance performances, performance art events, concerts and films, as well as exhibitions, workshops, meetings and events for children at 30 different sites in Poznań. We present to you a summary of the most important events of Malta Festival Poznan 2014.
MESTIZOS IN POZNAN
This year’s Idiom Latin America: Mestizos was the largest presentation of contemporary art from South American countries held in Poland in years. The program created by the curator Rodrigo García included theatre and dance performances, installations, happenings and exhibitions. Most artists presented their work before the Polish audiences for the first time. Several pieces were Malta Festival Poznan productions, prepared especially for the Idiom.
The themes commonly present in the featured projects, despite the diversity of forms and media of expression, were politics and the body. The artists invited to Poznan proved that the context in which they create induces a direct dialogue with the world and requires quick reactions to social and political situations, forces to take a stance. Many artists’ work was a response to recent Latin American history and the side effects of globalisation as experienced in their countries – social inequality and excessive consumption.
The cycle of films screened on Ballet School Courtyard and the master classes held by Rodrigo García and his permanent collaborators – actors Juan Loriente and Juan Navarro - constituted important elements of the program. The several days of collaboration gave birth to a piece, which was a performative commentary on the cancellation of Golgota Picnic in Poznan. Malta’s Latin American program was recapitulated during a two day forum The Faces of Latin America, which touched upon the issues of historical analogies between that region and Central-Eastern Europe and the modern situation of the indigenous inhabitants of Latin America. We also talked with Rodrigo García, and other Idiom artists, Luise Garay and Erika Diettes, about the differences between artists’ work in Europe and in Latin American countries.
AROUND GOLGOTA PICNIC
Golgota Picnic, one of Rodrigo García’s most interesting plays, was intended to be one of the major highlights of the Idiom programme. In the play, García depicts a world in which people are incapable of taking an ethical stance towards violence and exploitation, and instead, choose selfish ignorance turning Golgotha into an ordinary picnic. Mass protests of ultra-Catholics organised from the end of May forced the festival to cancel the performances of Golgota Picnic. Manifestations planned for 30 thousand people could have developed into riots, the scale and form of which could have been dangerous for the actors, the audience, the Malta public in the open space of Malta Generator on Wolności Square, as well as random bystanders. The Police could not guarantee their safety.
After the cancellation of Golgota Picnic, on the days when the performances were scheduled, there were readings and screenings of the play spontaneously organised all over the country. In Nowy Teatr in Warsaw there was a special event. Rodrigo García’s actors read the play, and Marino Formenti performed Haydn’sThe Seven Last Words of Christ on the piano, which is a part of the play. On Friday in Poznan the planned debate about the future of festivals was transformed into a debate entitled Who needs freedom?. The participants were Rodrigo García, Michał Merczyński, Filip Berkowicz, Beata Chmiel, Hugo de Greef, Krzysztof Materna, prof. Krzysztof Podemski and prof. Andrzej Wirth, Suely Rolnik and Gerardo Nauman – an artist from the Latin America: Mestizos Idiom. The mayor of Poznan, Ryszard Grobelny, also appeared in the audience, and was immediately questioned by the Jacek Żakowski, who chaired the meeting. The main part of the discussion focused on political and legal aspects of the situation: “Democracy and freedom works only if it is guarded by the ordered power of the state”, said Jacek Żakowski. While Beata Chmiel stressed that “artists do not have the law behind them. There are offences in the criminal codes against freedom of conscience and religion and they are treated in a pretext manner, i.e. artists are tried even for works, which are not presented in the public space. The sole threat of something that is in our thoughts, constitutes some kind of idea, is treated as a crime”. “Politics became horrible. Divisions became dysfunctional and they prevent people doing anything which has any sense. But mostly, it is about the passivity. If 30 thousand hooligans turn up, how many citizens would come to face them and defend the constitution?”, asked the chairman. “Not only to see the play. Is there any love of freedom left in this country? This is the most dangerous thing. Rodrigo found himself in a country which focused only on growing its GDP and forgot about anything else”.
Listen to the audio recording of the debate or watch the video of the first part of the discussion.
Malta is preparing a multimedia report about the events around Golgota Picnic in Poznan, which will be published in autumn 2014.
TOGETHER TO MALTA GENERATOR
One of the recent albeit permanent features of the Malta Festival programme is the Generator Malta project, consisting of subtle artistic and social campaigns that bring together very different people and build mutual trust. From March to September, together with local activists and the residents of three districts in Poznań, we are animating community gardens and an abandoned kiosk at the intersection of Jackowskiego and Wawrzyniaka Street. In June, that heart of Generator Malta pulsated at Wolności Square, where we built a micro city of art and leisure that quickly became the most popular meeting venue in Poznań. Every day, we were visited by thousands of Poznanians seeking respite from city noise. Each of the three festival weeks had its own guiding theme. In the first week, we looked at alternative everyday activities. In the second, the most important Generator Malta participants were children, whom we received as active and empowered urban citizens. In the third week, we focused on the Idiom theme. The visitors at Wolności Square had access to numerous attractions, including walking on a large-format map of Latin America, tasting Latin American cuisine or listening to the Argentinean tango.
POZNAN THEATRE SEASON IN A NUTSHELL
This year’s Malta was a great time to discover the most important productions of Poznan artists. The Malta Scene program featured premiere productions of the past season, including “Dziady” by Radosław Rychcik and the plays produced by Poznan’s vibrant artistic platforms: Republika Sztuki Tłusta Langusta, Scena Robocza, Barak Kultury, as well as works produced as a part of the Wielkopolska Rewolucje project. Stary Browar Nowy Taniec, the most important centre promoting and presenting modern dance in Poland, celebrated its 10th anniversary.
DAMON ALBARN CLOSES THE FESTIVAL
Besides theatre, music has, for many years, been the second pulse of the Malta Festival. The major event this year was the concert of Damon Albarn, the symbol of European alternative music. The inviting space of the Old Gasworks, Albarn’s fantastic contact with the audience, and the unconcealed pleasure he took in performing, made this a night we will remember for years to come.