We wave goodbye to Malta Festival Poznań 2019! We wish to thank the almost 90 thousand viewers who have taken part in 300 events in 50 locations: theatre plays, outdoor performances, meetings, workshops, urban attractions and performances created by almost 700 artists and activists from 26 countries. Thank you!
The intertwining of war and peace has been the subject of this year’s Malta. Together with artists from Poland, Portugal, Georgia, Brazil, China, Palestine, Iran, Yemen, USA, Morocco, Egypt and Angola we have enjoyed plays, exhibitions, performative actions which formed the Army of the Individual Idiom, i.e. Malta’s international program, and Malta Generator, the social and artistic part of the festival, the pro-peace motto of which has been “Get Ready for Peace”. The city is Malta’s stage – the events have been organised in several dozen locations all over Poznań.
For the first time the international program has been curated by an artist who transgresses the boundaries of theatre. Nástio Mosquito is a performative and visual artist from Angola, who creates video projects and audio-visual installations, as well as stand-up performances, happenings, politically engaged performances which involve various media such as music, image and text. His work is a mixture of superficiality and absurd jokes with a reflection on conflict and real threats to the modern world. Mosquito’s works have been exhibited at Tate Modern in London, MoMA in New York and on this year’s Biennale in Venice.
Nástio Mosquito has invited nine artists to Poznań, with whom he collaborated to create the Army of the Individual program. ‘When we hear the world “army” we rarely imagine individuals. I wanted the personality of each artist to have an opportunity to shine. What makes each of them special? Who are they, where do they come from, what are their experiences? Each one brings more than just their work’, said Nástio Mosquito in an interview for “Gazeta Wyborcza”. Both for him and for the other artists it was a first performance in Poland.
The Idiom program featured a dance solo by a Belgian artist Lisbeth Gruwez of the Voetvolk duo, which she co-creates with Maarten Van Cauwenbergh. "It’s going to get worse and worse and worse, my friend" employs dance to uncover the truth about violence which may be ingrained in words. The stage at Centrum Kultury Zamek was also graced by a Portuguese dancer and lawyer Alice Joana Gonçalves with her small-scale and very intimate piece "The Foxes". Radouana Mrizigi, who is originally from Morocco, presented his play "55", in which the artist searches for relationships connecting body with architecture. Throughout the festival the Pawilon hosted a large-scale audio-visual installation entitled "The Dust Bowl" by a Spanish artist Vica Pereiró. There were also performative actions in the city-scape: "Nau Frágil" by Priscila Rezende from Brazil, in which the artist combines the subject of colonial heritage and contemporary migrants’ tragedies, as well a as Kelly Schacht’s "The Conversation Pieces", which are small artistic interventions hidden among the festival audience, performed in several variants and engaging Poznanians using sign language and reading lips as actors. The Idiom events also featured screenings of works by a Chinese visual artist Li Ran, as well as screenings of Angolan films selected by Nástio Mosquito and Ery Claver, who is a representative of the Geração 80 collective uniting filmmakers from Angola born in 1980s. Mosquito's "Vaginocracy", prepared especially for the festival, was the opening event for the Idiom. It was an audio-visual collage of videos and photographs documenting birth. The curator also performed a concert-play, and lead the best karaoke session in the world "No.One.Gives.A.Mosquito’s.Ass.About.My.Gig".
The Idiom events intertwined with the urban program of the festival – Malta Generator. The curators Joanna Pańczak and Agnieszka Różyńska interpreted peace as homework, which has to be done both locally and globally, everyday and by each of us. For 10 days Liberty Square was transformed into a non-martial arts gallery. Each day saw workshops, performances, meetings, film screenings and concerts. We had exhibitions such as "858. Archive of Resistanc"e by the Mosireen Collective as well as "Institute For the Disarmament Of Culture And Abolition Of War" by Krzysztof Wodiczka and Jarosław Kozakiewicz. We took part in walks, workshops, lectures by artists and activists from the Sprostowanie Group set up especially for the festival; we participated in the performance of the German collective Army of Love, as well as actions organised by students form Poznań’s secondary schools.
The Generator was not limited to Liberty Square – as usual it ‘acted and radiated all over Poznań’, as Jacek Cieślak put in his review for „Rzeczpospolita”. So, we had the opportunity to take a look at the city and the reality from various altitudes and perspectives: bird’s eye during the conquering the Summits in Poznań, or through localness and micro-history of various parts of the city during the walks following sentimental maps. Cytadela, which is a park-monument with a military history, was the scene of much pro-peace activity. Marta Jalowska put up a reconstruction of the unveiling of the Bell of Peace and Friendship during her an "Interval of Peace", while the Monument of the Poznań Army was the venue of the concert finale of the "Peace for Homework" workshops, during which the young participants danced, sang and rapped together with the workshop conductors Karolina Czarnecka, donGURALesko and the Palestinian group Stereo 48. The 10-day activity concluded with a "Score for Peace", which was a concert-meditation for peace composed by Dawid Dąbrowski and musicians from Georgia, Ukraine, India and Russia.
For 7 years now Liberty Square has been transforming for the duration of the festival into an open-air community centre, where days start with warm-ups, and finish with theatre and music. This year we hosted plays by Maria Dąbrowska and Szymon Kaczmarek from Współczesny Theatre in Szczecin as well as Klaudia Hartung-Wójciak from Bagatela Theatre in Cracow. The theatre stage at Liberty Square was closed by the premiere of the play "It's my Birthday Today" directed by Magda Szpecht and Weronika Pelczyńska – produced by Malta festival. The theatre plays on Liberty Square attracted over 500 viewers each time! The evenings were also filled with music by Sztylety, Kuba Więcek Trio, Polpo Motel, Cinemaximiliaan and silent disco. The film program featured films from the Docs Against Gravity section of the Millennium Film Festival. For the first time the Malta program was supported by Pawilon, who presented their premiere performance of the "Manifests of the Future: 2001" based on live music and a visual experiences, the screening of the film "Virus Tropical", as well as the discussion "How to Create Tomorrow?" conducted by Edwin Bendyk.
During the day we conversed with experts as a part of the Forum discussions, which were themed "Culture of War in Times of Peace". The discussions were attended by Katarzyna Wężyk, Leszek Koczanowicz, Dariusz Rosiak, Colonel Grzegorz Kaliciak, Maria Wiernikowska, Andrzej Leder and General Jarosław Stróżyk. The festival commenced with debates on Polish education: the finale of the Civic Meetings on Education for 24 tables, as well as the discussion entitled "The Final Bell", which was attended by legends of Polish education, active pedagogues and their students.
Liberty Square also had its fun zone, i.e. a space for the youngest Malta-goers, where each day under the watchful eye of grownups, children played, learned and developed their creativity and sensitivity to the world and others. The Children at Liberty program included theatre plays and workshops.
The spectacular opening of Malta belonged to the French group Transe Express. After 26 years the group returned to Poznań with their aerial spectacle "Mobile Homme" and the colourful parade "Divas". For two hours the streets of Poznań turned into an opera hall. Drummers and 5-metre singers were followed from Liberty Square by scores of Poznanians. The 29th edition of Malta was officially opened at Adam Mickiewicz Square by the Deputy President of the City of Poznań Jędrzej Solarski, the Chairman of the Poznań City Council Grzegorz Ganowicz, the head of the French Institute in Paris Pierre Buhler, the director of the French Institute in Warsaw Linda Marchetti, the French ambassador in Poland Pierre Lévy, as well as the director of the festival Michał Merczyński with his team. The open-air street spectacle, which was a direct reference to the roots of Malta was attended by thousands of Poznanians, tourists, passers-by, children and grown-ups, who summed-up the event on the Internet in the following words: ‘A wonderful spectacle! Memories from the beginnings of Malta came alive (…) Keep this up - more such gems please!’ or ‘That was WONDERFUL!!!!! A show worthy of a Malta opening’.
Malta and Stefan Żeromski Theatre from Kielce are responsible for the production of "Disgrace", a play based on a novel by John Maxwell Coetzee directed by Maciej Podstawny. The piece transports us into a post-apocalyptic world of jarring injustice and violent relationships between people and all other creatures. ‘(...) The play has a potential to be truly extraordinary, an attempt to create a work about a hierarchical and divided world, which is falling apart, and in which hope for survival can be found only in unexpected alliances and relationships escaping logic. (...) What is important, at least for me, is not the question about the reasons for disgrace, but how to live after disgrace. And whether the strategies proposed by Coetzee are viable still today’, wrote Stanisław Godlewski in his review for “Gazeta Wyborcza”. The premiere was on 27 June at Poznań International Fair, the next performance will take place at the opening of the theatre season in Kielce on 7 September.
The concert finale "Operetta! You are living in the Matrix" transported us to the world of great musicals such as Hair, Cats, Halka, as well as cult ABBA and Maanam and classics of the musical theatre. The concert took place on the plot of land which will be the location of the future Musical Theatre. It gathered an audience of several thousand and featured the most beautiful compositions sang and played by: Mateusz Holak, Collegium F Orchestra under the baton of Marcin Sompoliński, donGURALesko, Justyna Szafran, Emose Katarzyna Uhunmwangho, Andrzej Donarski, Marta Mazurek and Michał Kocurek. The special visualisations with political and satirical collages – illustrating hits by André Rieu, Johann Strauss I and Johann Strauss II, Jacques Offenbach, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Galt MacDermot – were prepared by Alicja Biała. Michał Merczyński was the author of the script and the host for the evening. Members of the audience related enthusiastically on the Internet: 'It was simply wonderful’ and ‘I’ve been and I have no regrets. Thank you to all the performers for a wonderful evening. It’s only a pity that… it wasn’t longer’.
Malta also means theatre and dance performances prepared by local cultural institutions. This year marked the fifteenth anniversary of the special festival program promoting modern dance, Old Brewery New Dance on Malta. We had 13 performances of Polish and foreign choreographers, including an open presentation of the Brazilian duo Quatro, and the play by Ivo Dimchev, which was thus summed up by Michał Nogaś: ‘Dimchev laughs, ridicules, but also tries to shake us up. "The Selfie Concert" was a strongly sobering experience, for which I wish to thank Joanna Leśnierowska, the curator of the Old Brewery, New Dance section of the program, thank you’. Another anniversary, 45th to be exact, belonged to Polish Dance Theatre, which prepared two gifts for the occasion: the premieres of "45" and "The Investigation". Plays by Poznań Dance Theatre, Polski Theatre, Scena Robocza, Barak Kultury as well as Republika Sztuki Tłusta Langusta were presented as a part of the Poznań on Malta partner program.
The Army of the Individual has been co-created by 90 thousand viewers, our sponsors, partners, friends, the Malta Festival team, as well as 100 voluntary workers, who supported us with their work at information points, viewer service points, the press office, the promotion department as well as during Malta Generator events!
Malta Festival Poznań could not have taken place without the support of many companies and institutions!
The festival has been implemented with the financial support of the City Hall, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region, Flanders Institute and the French Institute. Thank you for your help and for being at the festival.
We wish to thank the festival sponsors: Kulczyk Investments, Ciech Group, IPF Group, Poznan International Fair and Tempus Leasing.
We are also grateful for the help of our co-organisers and partners: the French Institute in Poland and Paris, Centrum Kultury Zamek, Estrada Poznańska, Going, Lucky You, SentiOne, Hotel Altus, Dekoma, Winosfera, Vastint, Centrum Informacji Kulturalnej, Kultura u Podstaw, Atelier Starzak Strebicki, Inwestycje Wielkopolski, Poznańska Lokalna Organizacja Turystyczna, Arte in Poland, the Liberty Square underground car-park, and Toyota Bońkowscy.
We wish to thank our program partners for co-creating the festival events: Stefan Żeromski Theatre in Kielce, Art Stations Foundation by Grażyna Kulczyk, Pawilon, School of Form, Robot Gentleman, Polski Theatre, Muzyczny Theatre, Republika Sztuki Tłusta Langusta, Scena Robocza, Polish Dance Theatre, Barak Kultury, Culture and Art Centre in Konin. We also wish to thank Collegium Da Vinci, which once again has been the venue of the Young Malta International Theatre Festival.
We wish to thank all the media outlets – local, national and international - for all their announcements, reports and reviews, as well as the journalists who came to Malta Festival Poznań. Special thanks to our media patrons: TOK FM, Gazeta Wyborcza, Gazeta Wyborcza Poznań, Wysokie Obcasy, AMS, Vogue, Szum, Didaskalia, Czas Kultury, Zwierciadło, Sens, and Empik.