Łódź is talked about in various ways: through the fates of its inhabitants, literary works, and songs; it reveals its secrets in narrations studying literature and its relations to reality and other artistic fields: film, music and the fine arts. That is why the literary programme of the festival is not limited to the traditionally understood area of literature, but it presents and designs stories in their relations to other artistic fields. As part of it, we have planned four realizations of different forms of stories and a discussion panel.
I called the first of them “Opowieść losu” (“The Story of Fate”). Its main character is Andrzej Krakowski, a director, a scriptwriter and a film producer; a Łódź Jew, who in 1968, like many Poles coming from one of the cultures co-creating Łódź, emigrated to the United States and was a successful artist there. Thanks to this story, the Łódź audience will have an opportunity to become familiar not only with films by Andrzej Krakowski, including the documentary “Farewell to my Country”, based on his emigration experiences, and an outstanding feature film titled “Triumph of the Spirit”, but also with his books: “Pollywood. Jak stworzyliśmy Hollywood” (“Pollywood. How We Have Built Hollywood”) and “Pollywood. Uciekinierzy w raju” (“Pollywood. Fugitives from Paradise”), telling about the fates of Polish Jews (also from Łódź) who created the power of Hollywood. The festival events also include a preview of the artist’s satirical drawings and Andrzej Krakowski is conducting a scriptwriting workshop for all interested writers and film school graduates.
The second story, “Złódzone piosenki” (“Łódź-filled Songs”), is built from an alliance of words and sounds. This project brings together artists creating old and modern kinds of urban folklore: hip hop, soul, rock folk, traditional folk music played in towns and cities as well as workers’ folklore. Artists such as Lilu Aleksandra Agaciak and Kapela Kożuch, as well as Jacek Bieleński and Bałucka Kapela Podwórkowa, will create two Łódź songs based on the above-mentioned music influences and their choruses will be translated into the following languages: German, Russian and Hebrew. Song is also a literary genre that, through music, reaches a large audience and has the power to change the world. It is probably why Bob Dylan became the newest Noble prizewinner in the field of literature. The concert presenting both the songs and the artists’ works will be preceded by a dancing workshop, where the inhabitants of Łódź can plumb the mysteries of oberek, kujawiak and other traditional dances enjoyed once by Łódź workers.
The third story is exceptionally poetic, and its attractiveness lies in the competition of poets of both sexes, who will compete in the already announced contest regarding “The Poem of Four Cultures”, devoted to our city. Its participants should draw on the multicultural history of the city, its industrial heritage, and achievements of the Łódź artistic avant-garde. I have engaged great and brilliant jurors, who are master writers in the field of poetry and literary studies: Joanna Roszak from Poznań, Joanna Mueller from Warsaw and two inhabitants of Łódź: Jerzy Jarniewicz and Kacper Bartczak. The winner is going to receive 10,000 zlotys, and the winning poem will be read during the festival.
The fourth urban story, a polyphonic one, will be created by researchers specializing in the arts during the “Archeologia śladu” (“Archaeology of traces”) conference planned as part of the festival, which is prepared by the Institute of Literary Research in Warsaw. A “trace”, as an important category of the contemporary arts, leads the researchers to the reconstruction of various ideas, phenomena and human fates crucial for the history of our city. These reconstructions will be presented in three thematic blocks: “Landscapes”, “Sketches” and “Portraits”. The source of knowledge created in this way can be used not only by other researchers of our city, but also by organizers of cultural activities and the organizers of our festival to create the programme of its subsequent editions.
The four stories are accompanied by a modest yet very powerful story of the history; a discussion panel called “Reżim komunistyczny w polskiej i rosyjskiej pamięci - kraj, region, miasto (Łódź i Iwanowo)” (“The communist regime as remembered by the Poles and Russians” - country, region, city (Łódź and Ivanovo)”). The planned discussion is about often hard and traumatic experiences of the inhabitants of Łódź and the Russian city of Ivanovo, which is a Russian partner city of Łódź. Under the scientific leadership of Professor Andrzej de Lazari, the discussion will be conducted by panellists connected to the Institute of Tolerance, the Bridges Within Europe Association and the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding.
All the stories presented here create a proposal of diverse activities, impressions and experiences whose, in my opinion, most appropriate image is the shape of a pyramid. Its basis is the “Złódzone songs” project, egalitarian and addressed to all the inhabitants of Łódź, as well as the contest “The Poem of Four Cultures”, dedicated to all the inhabitants of Łódź and carried out by writers, whereas the peak includes events prepared by scientists: the “Archeologia śladu” conference and the discussion panel, which are more exclusive. The middle space is occupied by Andrzej Krakowski’s film and literary story. His emigration experiences and artistic achievements, and the consideration of the heritage of other intercultural wanderers, express in some sense the spirit of our city, created like American cities by emigrants from all over the world and all social classes.