Can Artistic Festivals be an intellectual proposition?

Can Artistic Festivals be an
intellectual proposition?
Joanna Ostrowska
Institute of Cultural Studies
Problem of festivals wit social and
intellectual agenda is connected
with 
audience development
leadership issues
also urban development
The two examples of such festivals
in Poland:
Brave – Against
Cultural Exile
Festival in
Festival of
Dialogue of Four
Cultures in Łódź
None of them is devoted to one art discipline
Their main focus is to present certain idea
through different performative practices
The main theme of both of them is culture
understood as a way of “being in the world”
Both recall forgotten or/and excluded cultures
Both festivals deal with the cultural diversity in
contemporary globalized world and at the same
time can be an inspiration for the future in our
rather mono-cultural country
Brave Festival in Wrocław
(the name is from “brave people who devoted themselves to save
cultures in danger”)
“After years of visiting festivals in Poland
and abroad I was tired of the identical
format dominating everywhere: let’s show
a product and let’s see a product. Festivals
reduce artists’ work to the dimension of a
product only, a commodity for
consumption. They are not interested in
the work process, its context, or what the
work means to people. I didn’t want to
repeat a similar format”
Grzegorz Bral – festival creator, leader and director
each year devoted to different subject: „Voices of Asia”,
„Drowned Songs”, „Ritual starts in Africa”, „Prayers of the
permanent collaboration with ROKPA – international
organizations that works with orphans in Tibet (certain
percentage from tickets is put on organization account)
and e.g. this year fundraising for Uganda children
volunteers – pedagogical aspect of showing to the
youngsters different cultures
Brave Kids – workshops for children
By presenting distant cultures organizers want to bring
the issues of tolerance in Polish society that has to learn
how to incorporate newcomers of different cultures and
Festival of Dialogue of Four
through its artistic programme, conferences and publications tries to
bring the questions about Łódź cultural background and how it can
serve contemporary city
Festival tries to create city identity
Cultural and social „akupresure”
catalogues of the festivals are the unique “textbook” covering the
subject of the festival. The catalogue thus becomes a valuable
testimony to the festival, a textbook which offers the participants a
certain intellectual proposal, and presents him/her with material for
further reflection
One of the main issues of the festival is to enlive intercultural
dialogue that will bring the issues of muliticulturalism, tollerance and
this dialogue can to help build “European identity” rooted in cultural
diversity that was for many years forgotten in Poland.
Can we „learn” anything from/through art?
Can festival with „intellectual agenda” be
more instructive than „normal” festival of
Are we trying to make art more „useful”?
Can we mesure „social impact” of such
Artistic festival can be treated as an intellectual
proposition if “art” is not their main interest
they most likely can be “intelectual proposition”
if they are the reflection of a view on the world,
not art.
I find most valuable the practices whose object
is intellectual stimulation of the participants, as
well as concern for their progress both in social
and individual terms.
The mission of art is supposed to lead to extending
freedom by preventing the rules governing reality to
become fossilized in the form of dead and blind certainties.
This emancipating force can be maintained by art, if it
forces both artists and the audience to get involved in the
process of understanding and interpreting the meanings,
which will bring questions about the objective truth, as well
as the subjective sphere of reality. In this way, art will
liberate the opportunities of life […] from the tyranny of
consensus, which is – has to be (shouldn’t, but it is) –
excluding and disqualifying.”
Zygmunt Bauman