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In 2014 we are celebrating 600 years since diplomatic relations were established between of Poland and Turkey. It is thought that the beginning of our common history took place in 1414, when – as the great Polish chronicler, Jan Długosz mentions in his Chronicles – sultan Mehmet I Çelebi hosted the first Polish diplomatic mission at his court in Bursa (Empire’s capital of that time). 600 years ago ‘Current Era’ began and significantly this is also the date of Constantinople’s downfall in 1453, followed by the decline of Byzantine civilisation. This fact expresses the importance of the Ottoman Empire for the socio-political world’s history. These 600 years have seen Poland and Turkey’s political, trade and cultural links develop and flourish. As well as sharing a border in the 15th century, the countries also connected through their multiculturalism and having a specific place at the geopolitical world’s map. Both countries have been – for almost all of their existence – multinational, multi-ethnic and multi-religious (Turkey – throughout the Ottoman Empire era as well as Republic of Turkey; Poland – from Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until Second Republic of Poland). During various eras, Poland was inhabited by Lithuanians, Rusyns, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Jews, Armenians, Lemkos, Romani people, Tatars… By the end of 16th century Poland was often referred to as a ‘heretics’ asylum’ as it was a place where persecuted Mennonites, Antitrinitarians, Jews and Huguenots could seek support and live safely. This ‘melting pot’ hugely enriched Poland’s cultural life for a period of time, which was later consider to be the country’s‘ Golden Age’. The religious tolerance was also appreciated in Turkey and to this day, is a country rich in ethnic minorities, including: Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Abkhazians, Adyghesians, Albanians, Arabs, Azers, Assyrians, Bosnians, Georgians, Hemşinliler, Laz people, Pomacs, Roma and Zaza people…


One more characteristic that connects both countries is the role they have performed throughout the Ages – of a link between the East and the West – not only within a political, but also a religious and cultural context. There is an analogy between the location of both countries - they lay ‘inbetween’: Poland as a part of Middle Eastern Europe due to its geopolitical location and Turkey as a ‘Europe’s kitchen’, linking Europe and Asia. However, while Turkey in the 20th century was considered close to Europe, and was treated as a partner and actively took part in important art and culture events, Poland was long thought to be a country from behind the Iron Curtain. Back to the topic of this year’s anniversary, we have to pose a question on how the Polish-Turkish relations have been emerging through 20th century and how are they looking now. In her opening text, Beral Madra, a key person, when it comes to Turkish contemporary art scene, repeatedly responsible for presentations at the Turkish Pavilion in Venice and for exhibitions at Istanbul Biennial, questions the 20th century relations between Poland and Turkey. She has observed a lack of dialogue between people in both countries and a slow pace of the changes within both countries’ communication profile. The lack of awareness of the state of Turkish contemporary art in Poland seems to support her statement. Recently, there have been only two significant presentation of contemporary art from Turkey in Poland: Diverçity – Learning from Istanbul shown at the Contemporary Art Centre in Warsaw in 2010 (an exhibition of contemporary design and urban projects) and Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin’s works presentation at the Art Museum in Łódź, which ended in February this year. Polish art in Turkey has been known at the Istanbul Biennial, where various artists have been invited to exhibit over the years. Last year it was Agnieszka Polska and Zbigniew Libera, before that – Artur Żmijewski, KwieKulik, Paweł Althamer, Paulina Ołowska and Monika Sosnowska. The Glass&Cup. Polish Design Stories has opened at the end of 2013 as a part of Istanbul Design Week. It has been organised by Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Zamek Cieszyn,


in collaboration with Fly with Art Foundation. It was a a preview of the official programme of the Polish cultural events in Turkey in 2014. Starting with the beginning of January until the end of 2014, various events, including exhibitions, concerts, and theatre, literature and film projects will take place in Turkey. It will be the first significant comprehensive presentation of our culture here. Organised by Wroclaw’s Culture and Art Centre, Ruptures and Convergences exhibition and its accompanying events programme are aimed at connecting artists from Poland and Turkey, whilst creating a new situation. We will present works by artists who debuted in 90’s and later and who relate to the mythologies and archetypes deeply rooted in both cultures, presented however, in a contemporary context of current geopolitics. The idea of Ruptures and Convergences is to shed a new light on our cultural heritage, with a particular emphasis on transformation stage, social polarisation and current matters. It may be that, through juxtaposing young Polish and Turkish art scenes, we will be able to discover some shared experiences and to create a new consistent narrative. There are many archetypes in art, which relate to national traditions and beliefs. Modern re-interpretations of these deeply rooted myths are mirrored by day-to-day life and contemporary art topics. However, these ‘mythologies’ are not to be defined as relicts from the distant past, but as lively images still shaping our culture. The modern motifs and contemporary art mythologies and the process of their evolution affected by pop culture, show business and current history will be shown through the art projects selected for the exhibition. The idea behind the exhibition does not lay in dispelling the myths, but is an opportunity to delve into contemporary culture, its eclecticism, an open discourse, accumulation of meanings, contents, myths and the multileveled structure of culture. The project will be an attempt to unravel and analyse the most important ways in which the life stories and mythologies are used. It will be also an attempt to explore the borders of an


artists’ interference into his/her culture – in the moment, when all benchmarks and stable hierarchies have been irrevocably lost. The semantic field’s limits, nominated by the opposite concepts’ pairings: modernity – heritage, transformation – cultural specificity’s defence, religion – secularity, modernity – national myth will be also accentuated. We will try to picture a liminal situation – in-between different cultures and influences through the works of the selected artists. We will also deal with the topics of multiculturalism and the equality of different cultures, related to tradition and modernity and expressed in the critique of global neocapitalism and consumer culture. The aforementioned topics and symbols will be not only universal for the contemporary art, no matter where it is from, but also for defining national society’s character anew – when it seems torn between the European and national identity. Agnieszka Chodysz-Foryś The exhibition curator


Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej Wydarzenie realizowane w ramach programu kulturalnego obchodów 600-lecia polsko-tureckich stosunków dyplomatycznych w 2014 roku

Kısmen, Polonya Cumhuriyeti Kültür ve Milli Miras Bakanı’nın kaynaklarından finanse edilmiştir Etkinlik, 2014 yılında kutlanacak Polonya-Türkiye ilişkilerinin kuruluşunun 600. yıldönümü münasebetiyle düzenlenecek olan kutlamaların kültür programı çerçevesinde gerçekleştirilmektedir

Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Event is a part of the cultural programme of 600 years of Polish-Turkish Diplomatic Relations

www.turkiye.culture.pl

Patroni medialni / Media partners


Curator text, Agnieszka Chodysz-Foryś, Poland