Polish Culture in Asia in Autumn 2016
After the success of the Polish cultural programme in China in 2015, when our presentations were seen by nearly 300,000 viewers, Culture.pl - the flagship brand of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute - continues carrying out projects in Asian countries. In the previous season the programme was structured around monumental exhibitions of ancient and modern art. In 2016, the focus will be on theatre and music.
This year's programme of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, operating under the Culture.pl brand, includes an extensive presentation of Polish theatre, early music projects, Sinfonia Varsovia's concert tour in Korea and China, recitals, jazz and contemporary music concerts, exhibition of contemporary art and theatre co-production in India, as well as many other projects, which will be presented in 20 cities in China, India, Korea and Japan.
Thanks to the long-term efforts of Culture.pl, Polish culture has been regularly present in key Asian countries since 2010. To date, over 500 cultural events gathering nearly 600,000 viewers have been held. Autumn is traditionally a period of our intensive activity in the region, which is related to the specificity of the local cultural markets in Asia.
Culture.pl in India
India, along with China, Korea and Japan, is one of the strategic directions of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
In March 2016, 4th edition of the international artistic and social project Common Room, curated by Beata Kuracińska and Justyna Werbel, was launched. This time the theme of the project, connecting children from Poland and India via online communicators, was 'ethical fashion'. In May, in the the first stage of the workshops held during the international Kids Love Design Festival in Szczecin (TRAFO Center For Contemporary Art), a show of ethical fashion was held. Children from two distant countries participated in a series of workshops, remaining in constant contact - creating together, getting to know each other, learning about each other's traditions and cultures they come from.
The last part of the project took place in Tiruvannamalai, India from 25th August to 3rd September 2016. Children who participated in the workshops had the opportunity to co-create the exhibition using the fabrics Botanical_India, Poland. The effects and course of the project and the exhibition were broadcast live in social media.
In India, due to the climate, cultural life concentrates in the last months of the year. Therefore, another three key projects organised by Culture.pl will be held in this country in November:
On 2nd November 2016, the Auditorium of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kolkata will host the premiere of the performance There Is No Fear directed by Łukasz Chotkowski. The show, which is a fusion of Polish and Indian sensitivities, brings up the topic of the difficult fate of Hindu wives after their husbands' death. The documention for the project was made during the interviews and workshops with widows conducted by playwright Magda Fertacz and theatre director Łukasz Chotkowski in the ashram run by the non-governmental organization Maitri (one of the project partners). The first presentation of the text took place in 2015 at the Sopot Non Fiction festival, and the performative reading of the play was held at the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, where performance will be staged in December 2016. The show is co-produced by the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, Culture.pl and Kasba Arghya Theatre of Kolkata.
On 25th November 2016, the exhibition of Polish contemporary art Absurd - Nonsense - Oxymoron will be opened in Bangalore. The exhibition will present the work of 12 artists: Hubert Czerepok, Wojciech Dada and Rafał Jakubowicz, Maurycy Gomulicki, Artur (Arti) Grabowski, Leszek Knaflewski, Kamil Kuskowski, Krzysztof KED Olszewski, Aleksandra Ska, Katarzyna Szeszycka, Zbigniew Taszycki and Mariusz Waras. The exhibition, curated by professor Bartłomiej Otocki, was prepared by the 13 Muz Club Cultural Centre from Szczecin and will be presented until 23rd December 2016 at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parisath Art Centre. The curator profesor Bartłomiej Otocki says:
The project (...) aims at presenting the works of Polish visual artists in India and Indian artists in Poland. Both events, independently curated, will give the audience an opportunity to learn about the achievements of outstanding visual artists, photographers and filmmakers. A variety of works will be presented: video-art, performance, short feature films and photographs. Moreover, workshops conducted by the invited guests are also planned.
Curator of the future 'revisit' of Indian artists in Szczecin will be Umesh Maddanahalli, who is also involved in the upcoming presentation of Polish art in Bangalore.
Between 24th November and 18th December 2016, the Saagara ensemble will embark on another concert tour, this time visiting seven cities in India. The project is the result of cooperation between Polish multi-instrumentalist Wacław Zimpel and five virtuosos of southern India: Giridhar Udupa, Mysore N. Karthik, Bharghava Halambi and K. Raja. Saagara combines the ancient Indian Carnatic music, with its sophisticated rhythmic and melodic system, and European traditions - composed music, derived from classical music, and improvised music, which draws inspiration from the jazz tradition. The band's repertoire include both Carnatic pieces and the musicians' original compositions. They are based on the taals, traditional Indian rhythm patterns, combined with western melodics, mingled with the raga system and Indian scales. Culture.pl has been supporting the Saagara ensemble for two years. In 2015 the band released a CD album and held a successful tour in Poland and Ukraine.
Programme of the 2016 tour:
Culture.pl in East Asia
In East Asia this autmn will be, above all, the season of Polish theatre and music, which has been steadily growing in popularity over the few past seasons, attracting crowds of viewers, representatives of artistic circles and journalists. But the activities of Culture.pl are by no means limited to these two areas. From 2nd September to 6th November 2016, the Korean city of Gwangju hosts one of the most important artistic events in the region - Gwangju Biennale, where the work of two Polish artists: Iza Tarasiewicz and Agnieszka Polska will be presented for the first time. The exhibition is the result of the study visit of this year's Biennale artistic director Maria Lind in Poland in 2016. From 9th to 20th September 2016 the famous 3331 Arts Chiyoda are centre in Tokyo will present Polish graphic design exhibition Eye on Poland. The exhibition, created by Magdalena and Artur Frankowski of the Fontarte studio, presents the most interesting posters, books, exhibition catalogues, CD and vinyl record covers and other prints of the past few years. For over a year, Eye on Poland has been presented in several cities in Japan, Korea and India, and due to the great interest of the audiences, subsequent editions of the project in these countries are planned in the nearest months. The project is carried out in cooperation with Polish Institutes in Tokyo and New Delhi and the Korea Foundation.
In 2016, as part of the cooperation between Culture.pl and one of the most important film festivals in Asia - Busan Film Festival (BIFF), Polish cinematographer will for the third time be one of the lecturers at the Asian Film Academy (AFA). AFA is an educational programme accompanying BIFF, allowing young filmmakers from poorer Asian countries to take part in lectures and workshops led by two internationally recognized film directors and cinematographers. Since its establishing, AFA workshops have been attended by over 300 young filmmakers and the lectures were held by, among others, Krzysztof Zanussi (2012), Ryszard Lenczewski (2014) and Jerzy Zieliński (2015). This year the cinematographer who will conduct lectures and workshops on the art of cinematography is a graduate of the Polish Film School in Łódź Bogumił Godfrejów, winner of numerous awards of the Polish Feature Film Festival and the German Film Critics Association. Among the films presented at this year's BIFF will be Andrzej Wajda's Afterimage and United States of Love directed by Tomasz Wasilewski.
Both projects are part of the long-term cooperation with these Asian partners. In 2015 Wuzhen Theatre Fesival hosted Portraits of The Cherry Orchard by Song of The Goat Theatre, while Michał Zadara presented his Forefathers' Eve (parts I, II and IV), the production of the Polski Theatre in Wrocław, in the Beijing People's Art Theatre. Performances in Japan and China will be accompanied by lectures and meetings conducted by theatre experts from Poland. In addition, in China they will be also accompanied by the promotion of the book by professor Dariusz Kosiński Teatra Polskie / The Theatre in Poland, a cross-sectional study on the history of Polish theatre, which has been published in Chinese translation.
Another key project in the field of classical music is the tour of maestro Krzysztof Penderecki and Sinfonia Varsovia in Korea and China. The artists, accompanied by pianist Jan Lisiecki, will play eight concerts on tour, four in each country. In Korea, they will perform in Busan (28th October 2016), Daegu (1st November 2016) and in the prestigious Seoul Arts Center (29th and 30th October 2016). In China, the musicians will play in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing (3rd November 2016) and in major concert halls in Wuhan (5th November 2016), Changsha (6th November 2016) and in Shanghai (8th November 2016). This will be Sinfonia Varsovia's second tour in China, after a very successful last year's performances, and their first tour in Korea. Chinese part of the tour is also supported by the Polish Institute – Culture Service of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Beijing.
At the same time, professor Maria Pomianowska will once again perform in Korea with a group of Polish and Korean musicians. This will be the second presentation of the joint project Korea-Poland Project Chopin & Arirang at the Sori International Music Festival in Jeonju - the biggest ethnic music festival in Korea. The project, participated from the Korean part by the musicians of the Pungryjiak ensemble, was launched in October 2014 in Jeonju. Later, the musicians gave concerts and workshops at the Crossroads 2015 festival in Kraków. This time, the cooperation will be expanded: the project will be participated not only the musicians, but also by dancers from Poland and Korea, who will work and improvise together, drawing inspitarion from the music and dance traditions of both countries. Their performances held from 29th September to 2nd October 2016 have a chance to become one of the highlights of the special edition of the Sori International Music Festival, celebrating its 15th anniversary. After performances in Jeonju, on 3rd October 2016 the musicians will also appear at the KF Cheonggyecheon Music Festival in the very heart of the Korean capital.
This autumn's Polish cultural programme in Asia would not be complete without the presence of Polish artists at the other two major music events in Korea. It will be the third time for the Polish bands to take part in the Zandari Festa in Seoul. In the previous years, various club scenes of the popular Hongdae district hosted, among others, Rebeka, The KDMS, Buslav, Lord and The Liar and Back To The Ocean. This time, as many as nine Polish bands, including Hatti Vatti, Night Marks Electric Trio, Rosa Vertov, Mateusz Franczak and Karo Su will perform at Zandari Festa, which is an absolute record for the Polish presence at the event. Some of the bands will also play at the MU:CON - conference of the music industry, held in coordination with Zandari Festa. Apart from Polish artists and their managers, this year also two organisers of the Spring Break Festival, Tomasz Waśka and Łukasz Minta from Go Ahead Agency were also invited to Zandari Festa. Presentation of Polish music at the festival is part of the Do not Panic! We're from Poland project.
An important element of the presence of Polish music on Asian scenes is the project JAZZ PO POLSKU. After the successful tour in 2015, JAZZ PO POLSKU returns to Asia with four bands. The result of last year's edition of the project is the double album Live in China to be released by Jazzpospolita in 2016. The album, prepared in the exclusive form of a double vinyl and a CD, will present material recorded during Jazzpospolita's tour in China last year. It was the largest and longest tour promoting Polish jazz music in China. The project is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Project Asia aims at increasing the presence of Polish culture in key Asian countries, especially China, South Korea and Japan, as well as developing cooperation with India. So far, Project Asia has organised Polish Culture Days in China (2010), cultural events during EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, Cultural Programme of the Polish EU Presidency in Beijing and Tokyo (2011), Polish October in Korea (2012) and Polish cultural program in China (2015). We regularly appear at dozens of festivals and in the most prestigious cultural institutions in China, Korea, Japan and India. We are also present in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.