Poland Was Here! Waving Goodbye to Polish Year in Turkey
Over 100 cultural events in 11 cities… The project that marked the 600th anniversary of the establishment of Polish-Turkish diplomatic relations and presented the best of Polish culture in Turkey is now over. What have we shown the Bosphorus?
The Polish year came to a wonderful close with numerous unforgettable events. Some of the most popular events of the past season include the Krzysztof Kieslowski retrospective at the Istanbul Modern, and Grzegorz Jarzyna’s production of No Matter How Hard We Tried, based on the text by Dorota Masłowska, which also inaugurated the prestigious International Theater Festival in Istanbul.
Among the closing events, the Orientalism in Polish Painting, Drawing and Graphics exhibition at Pera Museum in Istanbul, one of the most important cultural institutions in the country, surprised Turkish audiences with nineteenth-century paintings of exotic landscapes, and highlighted the Polish fascination with the Orient. The Adam Mickiewicz Museum in Tarlabasi featured the story of the romantic poet, emigrant and radical political activist.
It turns out that 600 years after the establishment of economic, political and cultural relations, the two countries still had much to learn about each other. The cultural project offered Poland great opportunities for deep cultural interaction with Turkey, which stands as a country of geopolitical importance not only for Poland, but also for the rest of Europe.
"During this year we have found each other again", admitted Olga Wysocka, deputy director of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and project manager of Polish Year in Turkey 2014, in an interview with Culture.pl. "The project launched a new dialogue between artists, institutions and cultural specialists", added an influential curator, Beral Madra of Turkish arts and antiques magazine Artam.
How was Polish culture received in Turkey? Here is a review of the cultural programme organized by Culture.pl:
New Sounds From Poland
For several months, Turkish audiences tuned into Polish sounds from a wide range of genres, from classical and jazz to electro-pop and experimental. Some of the most important international stages and concert halls of Istanbul and Izmir featured the Polish masters of modern jazz and avant-garde music, among them Leszek Możdżer, Tomasz Stanko, Kwartludium, Old River, RGG Trio and the Janusz Prusinowski Trio. The dance floor was heated by Polish funk collective Soul Service DJs, whereas Pera Museum hosted seven young artists from Poland for their music series which began with Marcin Masecki’s solo performance and ended with the energetic closing concert by Paula and Karol.
At the end of the closing event, Pera Museum’s concert hall was bursting with applause. The head of the music projects, Michal Hajduk from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, revealed that:
Polish chords will continue to resonate in Turkey. The cultural programme in the year 2014 aimed to build connections, contacts, and an interest in Polish music. It succeeded. We have already confirmed the first upcoming performances scheduled for the new season in 2015 and 2016.
Moreover, the long-awaited Istanbul concert organized by the “Don’t Panic! We’re From Poland” musical project went onstage on 18th December at 21:00. Held at Nublu Istanbul, it featured Rebeka and Bokka, as voted for by Turkish music lovers. Istanbul and New York-based Turkish indie-dance band Portecho also performed alongside the visiting musicians.
Mickiewicz in the Kitchen
And what are Polish-Turkish relations like in the kitchen? We look first to The Migrating University of Mickiewicz project held in Istanbul. At its entrance, a neon inscription, ADAM ("adam" in Turkish means man) welcomes us. This neon by Mikolaj Dlugosz is reminiscent of the story of the Polish poet, who originally arrived in the city of Istanbul in 1855. Featuring various works by Polish and Turkish artists including videos, posters and sound installations, the project was curated by Max Cegielski as an interdisciplinary laboratory in which artists and cultural researchers were invited to re-interpret the fate of the Polish poet.
Over the past few months, numerous Polish and Turkish artists have worked at Mickiewicz's old yellow house, among them Janek Simon, Slavs and Tatars, Tomek Szerszeń and Anna Kuczyńska. Turkish visual artist Tunca Subasi, served chicken in honey to guests at local pubs -- also Mickiewicz's last meal before his untimely death in Istanbul. The project created a cultural dialogue concerning the taste of archaeology and history transformed into the art of cooking, which, like old photographs, can be also a carrier of memory.
Cook for Book: What Culture Tastes Like
Meanwhile SALT Galata in Istanbul, which is a nineteenth-century building and also the former Imperial Ottoman Bank, housed the Rainbow in the Dark exhibition which featured a critical selection of Polish and Turkish contemporary art. The Polish artists presented include Miroslaw Balka, Zbigniew Warpechowski, Pawel Atlhamer, Zofia Rydet and Artur Zmijewski.
All events are organized as part of the cultural programme marking the 600th anniversary of Polish-Turkish diplomatic relations.
Edited by E.M. 19/01/2015