25 October 2017 Timing the unknown

Uncertainty, fear, grievance, injustice… out of those feelings anger – the theme of the second day of the Conrad Festival 2017 – is born.

Krzyszof Globisz greeted the festival audience with a resounding Hello”. The actor who struggles with aphasia talked about the spectacle The Whale. The Globe he created together with his former students. The aim of this project is to get rid of unrest, to overcome fear of the unknown, the contact with a person who is ill” – explained Eva Rysová who directed the play. –The audience comes to watch the play full of anxiety. People are afraid that we will shock them with suffering, that they will not recognise the actor they once saw on stage in Krzysztof as he is today” – explained the actress Zuzanna Skolias. –But tension eases every minute of the play and fear is gradually tamed, turning into hope and emotions”. The play could be seen last night at the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre.

The reporters Marta Dzido and Piotr Śliwowski also talked about a hope for the future. The made a documentary, Solidarność według kobiet, to show that  women contributed to the struggle with the communist regime no less than men. Śliwowski and Dzido admit that today it would be difficult to bring people together around a common goal but they see protests of medical professions and tenant movements as continuation of the spirit of Solidarity. According to Joanna Gwiazda, Solidarity will never be again” – quoted Dzido. –But what remains is the awareness that a different future is possible”.

Maciej Zaremba Bielawski, another festival guest, is also a reporter. Similarly to the participants in the Monday discussion The Beksińskis being tapped” the Sweden-based journalist, talked about the fundamental features of reportage: credibility and distance to events covered. The reporter can seduce, but must not delude. Today, in the era of post-truth we cannot afford embellishment” he argued, adding the credibility is not just facts but also the way they are presented. You can just as well lie juggling with facts.”

Facts can sometimes be hidden. Just as Maria Konopnicka’s daughter did, burning her mother’s letters in the 1950s, because, in her opinion, they might damage the image of the popular writer. During the discussion about homosexual aspects of writers’ biographies, Krzysztof Tomasik, the author Homobiografia, also addressed this issue. ”The tendency for expunging awkward fact is our national feature. It’s a pity because there are plenty of Polish literary figures whom we might look from a non-heteronormative perspective” – said Izabella Filipiak, a writer and a researcher specialising in Conrad’s work. – ”This helps us not only to understand their lives but also their works”.

Basically, the meeting with Olga Tokarczuk was intended as an attempt at finding an answer to the questioned: ”Can art change our approach to some social phenomena?”, it soon turned into a debate about ethics. Her book Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych and Agnieszka Holland’s film Spoor based on the book were the starting points for the discussion. The book and the film dealt with the issue of killing animals for pleasure which Tokarczuk described as ”one of the greatest problems of the contemporary world”. ”We must face it. The problem is already knocking at the door, we can’t ignore it anymore” – she added. You could watch Spoor at the pod Baranami Cinema right after the discussion.

Yesterday a seascape art workshop started the series of events dedicated to children. Up to Sunday the youngest participants will be offered art workshops. Popular writers and illustrators will take them on a journey following Conrad’s footsteps (Friday: Be like Conrad), to the end of the world (Saturday: A fairy tale at the end of the world), and even to heaven (Friday: Draw the world). Meetings with favourite writers: Adam Wajrak (Saturday), Andrzej Maleszka (Saturday) and Martin Widmark (Thursday) are also planned along with discussions about quite serious issues: e.g. how ladies and girls now conquer the world (Sunday Damy, dziewczynki, dziewuchy) or about the literature of the deaf (Friday DeafRespect). These are but a few of the planned events.

Yesterday two new cycles were inaugurated: the discussion “When the writer is not the most important. About writers’ agents” initiated events of the Book Industries strand , whilst the meeting with the poet Ostap Slyvynski opened the Lviv strand. The situation of stateless people in Europe and the world was discussed under the antidiscrimination strand.

What does the Conrad Festival have on offer today? For details of the third day click: here.