The identity of this year's Malta Festival Poznań comprises five slogans:
We, the People; We, the Balkans; We, the East; We, Europe; We, Others. Each can be interpreted in two ways. The first underlines the unity and homogeneity of the subject it refers to, and the second, on the contrary, juxtaposes the two subjects and suggests their polarity. The first makes a generalization, the second arbitrarily delineates borders. Both philosophy and experience prove that those two practices not only do not work, but also pose a danger. This is why we openly cross them out.
Crossing them out does not mean that the words in the slogans are unimportant, but they do require redefining. “We, the People”, the words uttered by Lech Wałęsa on 15 November 1989 in the American Congress, referred directly to the first words of the US constitution, and in a broader sense to the idea of a democratic society in which the voice of every community member matters, to the idea of respecting complexity, the inner diversity of the community with which we identify.
Today, 28 years later, history has added new meaning to those words. In contemporary Poland we hear less and less often about the creative and active role of civic society. More and more often, on the other hand, we hear about national pride, the religious and ethnic identity of some unspecific community which is supposed to be defined by a set of clear-cut beliefs and values, excluding respect for pluralism of attitudes and views. That is why this year’s Festival is focused on the subject of the Balkans, penetratingly looking at Europe, Poland and us, gathered in micro-communities. This already the eighth Idiom is a mirror in which we can see our own problems, and confront them.
Confronting that which is difficult and inconvenient, and being capable of self-reflecting, is particularly important in today’s reality, engulfed by the return of ideas which isolate and segregate people: fascism and nationalism. They go hand in hand with discursive and symbolic violence, as well as the real one which has become the norm in the public domain. One thing does not change. Malta, this artistic island which was brought to life 27 years ago, remains the venue for freedom and diversity. I hope that this year’s edition will be an opportunity for a creative meeting of all those who wish to see reality more clearly. Let’s remain citizens of the festival Republic!
director of Malta Festival Poznań