To orchestrate the city

Krzysztof Czyżewski, artistic director of Wrocław, European Capital of Culture 2016, talks to Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga.
Full version of the interview is available in the current issue of "Herito"

© Archiwum Ośrodka "Pogranicze - sztuk, kultur, narodów"

Are there any similarities between Lublin and Wrocław? Let’s take, for example, the aspect of cooperation with the eastern neighbours of Poland.

Before I started to be connected with Wrocław in any way, our fi rst idea in Lublin, after the results of the ECOC 2016 competition had been announced, was to donate to Wrocław one of our most important projects, that is creating a space for Lviv, also as a capital of culture. We even motivated the Ukrainian cultural communities to write their own application. Our aim was to integrate them; we wanted to encourage them to build a programme. It is natural that Wrocław together with Lublin (as of course we want to invite Lublin) will continue this initiative. In September we are going to Lublin and Lviv with Mayor Dutkiewicz and we are taking our proposal for working together with us.

What will be the biggest challenge in Wrocław for you? Many directors of other ECOCs complain about diffi cult relations with city authorities, about problems with the budget.

I don’t think that this will be the most diffi cult thing, although certainly it’s very important, even from the point of view of sensitivity that will have to be shown. Above all, as cultural operators we need to be aware of the conditions we are functioning in. We still don’t know in what direction and how far the current crisis will develop. In this situation we can’t be too demanding; we must understand the plight of our municipal partners. We have to take joint responsibility for actions taken rather than only demand. And as for my personal perspective, I have always treated this project as an artistic undertaking, although I have never seen it achieved completely in this respect. The fact that we are involving the citizens in culture, that we allow them to experience this unique atmosphere of creative work, of building something new, avant-garde, overcoming certain horizons, is just an element of this process. So the greatest challenge for me will be to build the collective work of art which will be Wrocław 2016, a piece which will start functioning on January 1st, 2016 and end on December 31st, 2016. It is supposed to be a dramaturgically coherent, many-voiced story. Apart from the European Capital of Culture I don’t know of a project that embraces a whole city for an entire year, and provides an opportunity for creative such a work. I look at the ECOC also as an artist.

Translated from the Polish by Tomasz Bieroń

Krzysztof Czyżewski – practician of ideas, essayist and intercultural animator. Co-founder of the Borderland Foundation and the “Borderland of Arts, Cultures and Nations” Centre, which he has headed for over twenty years. Since 2011 he has run the Krasnogruda International Centre for Dialogue on the Polish-Lithuanian border. Head of the Borderland Publishing House, where he is the editor of such series as “Meridian” and “Sąsiedzi” [Neighbours]. Founder of programmes of intercultural dialogue in Central Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia and other borderland areas. He runs the “New Agora” International Academy, programmes the “Borderlands School” and the “Glass Bead Game” – Laboratories of Intercultural Practices. Presides over the “HALMA” European Network of Literary Centres with its headquarters in Berlin. Author of the books Ścieżka pogranicza (The Borderland Path, 2001) and Linia powrotu. Zapiski z pogranicza (The Line of Return. Notes from a Borderland, 2008). Czyżewski prepared Lublin’s application as artistic director of the ECOC Lublin 2016 project. He is now artistic director of the Festival Office Impart 2016 in Wrocław responsible for the ECOC Wrocław 2016 programme.

Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga – graduate in European studies from the Cracow University of Economics. She has worked as a unit coordinator in the European Aff airs Unit of the Polish Ministry of Culture and as coordinator of the EU Culture 2000 programme in Poland. Currently, she is a coordinator of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures in the International Cultural Centre in Krakow. She is also a lecturer, researcher and author of publications on EU cultural policy and EU culture funds.