“Responsibility for the Present” – Poznan’s Malta Festival

Featured image credit: Marcin Oliva Soto, malta-festival.pl

The Malta Festival in Poznan is a major event in the cultural life of the city. It’s robust programme (17-28 June) covers theatre, visual arts, dance, music and includes workshops and gatherings. The theme for this year’s edition, the Spectator, proposes a relevant reflection on todays world, our role in it and our mindfulness of the other.

we are not focusing on a sociological object of study, but on identifying the spectator within us and on the paradox in which the spectator is caught.

all quotes MICHAŁ MERCZYŃSKI, Director Malta Festival Poznań

‘Responsibility,’ ‘accountability’ and ‘engagement’ are buzzwords in the social and political times we live in. It is inevitable to look at the paths we’ve taken as individuals or communities and wonder if we’ve made the right choices. Questions such as how to be responsible and accountable for our actions as citizens, as nations, arise. What is our role in this overwhelming tragicomedy that envelops us and develops before our eyes, but with which we can barely keep up? Shootings, human right violations, violence, terrorism, extreme nationalism, corruption… It seems that everywhere we look there’s something wrong with the world and there’s nothing we can do about it. Or is there? We change our FB profile pictures to match the French national flag, the gay flag, the banner of the next victim or injured group. We watch as the drama unfolds and we click, the perfect gesture.

How to (re)act responsibly to the tragedy of others? How to see? How to observe? How to engage and demand accountability? How to be empathetic? How to reflect on our faults and mistakes? The answer, it seems, is in the past. Unable to predict future calamities we are left only with the history of calamities past. We see how the present quickly fades into the annals of Wikipedia and we wonder what is our role today, and how we will be remembered: as “actors, spectators or witnesses”?

This year’s edition of the Malta Festival in Poznan raises precisely this issue. Constantly bombarded with images and information about the world around us, about ‘the others,’ we look for methods and strategies not to be left with just images and information, but to able to grasp some understanding and knowledge that will lead us to a real change.

Once we see something we cannot go back. Especially today, in the world in which we constantly and shamelessly learn about the suffering of others through images, looking is no longer innocent. It is connected to learning about what we are looking at and deciding what to do with this knowledge

ksenofobia28 June at 22.00 on Plac Mickiewicza.
The festival will tackle the topic through Jan Komasa‘s spectacle, Ksenofonia, a multimedia show that will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Poznań June 1956, the first rebellion against the communist power in Poland.

we want to show that our responsibility for the present can only be built through being mindful of the other, the stranger.

Our views and attitudes towards it may change, but the history remains. An example on how to revisit and re(view) a historical event that still resounds in the Polish collective mind and acts as a reminder to all of the universal struggle for freedom and equality, still valid (and valued) today as it was yesterday.

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