• September 19, 2016
  • 246

Mokrzecka: away from Vilnius living museum

Polish culture is passé – I heard that for years from friends in real life and on Facebook. And I couldn’t disagree more.

Few years ago, before going to university in Poland, I associated polish culture with folk only. Instead, I was fascinated by Lithuanian theatre,  modern art, music… After moving in to Warsaw which offers cultural diversity, realised I was wrong.

I have come back to Vilnius a while ago and I assure you that Vilnius is full of various polish culture not only for cinema lovers, theatre lovers, music lovers, but also for modern art fans. All thanks to activity of: House of Polish Culture in Vilnius, Polish Institute and Lithuanian initiatives (especially private clubs and galleries). It is important to add that this projects and people are generally recognised in Poland (e.g. Organek, Bokka, Pretexty, Xxanaxx, Krik Kong, Street theatre „Peregrinus”, Ziemowit Szczerek, Monika Drożyńska etc.).

Unfortunately, frequency of polish is low…

For years different kind of experts have warned that polish identity in Lithuania depends on honouring of tradition as well as keeping polish education relevant. Our tradition and polish education are honoured by us, though we have difficulties with polish culture.

It is more common to see Lithuanian excitement in modern jazz music concert than local Polish. During Polish Film Week classic is preferable. However Lithuanian spectators are more interested  in modern polish cinematography. Situation looks dramatically in the case of art and avant-grade music whereas theatres are filled with spectators. It is worth mentioning that participants in cultural events are always the same, that is employees who makes false crowd. There is no point looking for “Vilnius elite” there or those who aspire to become one. As is well known, in the 40-50 of the XX Century majority of Polish left former territories of Poland. Majority of intelligent and educated people who was mainstay for cultural world have also left this territories. For how long we will use this as an excuse? Jewish nation after 40 years of lost in the desert reached Promised Land while Polish are lost for almost 70 years…

On the other hand, when it comes to folklore and pisco polo concerts we are masters! Doesn’t matter what kind of folklore it is. We enjoy it very much. There is a full house and concert tickets are selling out immediately! For example recent Wileńszczyzna band concert to celebrate 35th anniversary of established took place in Opera and Ballet Theatre as well as Concert of disco polo Boys band in House of Polish Culture in Vilnius.

I don’t criticize disco polo nor folklore. Folklore is important, has lsome recipients and helped with keeping polish identity. Modern art or avant-grade art never was and never will by mass. When it comes to “Polish intelligence in Lithuania” and about lack of it we would have to change our beliefs. Being intelligent doesn’t mean reading all school books or drinking wine during art event. Intelligent person is eager for life, is interested in new, unorthodox things, asks many difficult questions not only in inner circle of friends…And above all, expand yourself.

Getting free stuff is something what we really like. From 90’s we were getting used to attending the events for free.  Nowadays we demand that “ Must be given to us!” “We are Polish from Lithuania and it must be for free”, “5 euro for ticket to polish concert? That’s crazy!”, “Never in my live”… For Gazmanow or Kirkow concert we are willing to pay even 50 euro, though.  All because it’s “our star” not some polish star. When we are listening polish artist we can fell like home. We know Olga and Fila, we understand them and they convince us.

Similarly, with polish literature. We know Mickiewicz and Słowacki and that is enough for us. We aren’t looking for novelties. We are making endless excuses e.g. lack of polish library in Lithuania. “Really? Is in Vilnius polish library? And E-library? Impossible!!!- is commonly heard. I would like to recall, there is also Library of Polish Institute containing several-thousand polish (new) volumes.

Everything is handed to us on a plate- for polish theatre, film to music. Nevertheless, we prefer be part of Vilnius living museum and complain. Polish love to complain…


Translated by Ewa Kołaczyńska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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