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Author: Kinga Gajda

A gap in Polish-German relations

Over 30 years have passed since Germany reunified and signed a pivotal agreement on bilateral affairs with Poland. Meant to signal the start of a new age of co-operation, the treaty’s spirit has nonetheless been challenged by numerous issues both old and new. A renewed agreement is now needed to build a shared future free from the ghosts of the past.

September 29, 2022 - Kinga Gajda

Central European sensitivity towards Ukraine

After Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, people who live in Central and Eastern Europe were able to quickly assess the situation and express their empathy for Ukrainians. They felt a sense of connection with them and started to help them straight away.

We have always had difficulty when trying to explain what it means when we say “Europe”. Indeed, this concept is dynamic and has undergone many changes over time. That is why in his “Letters to the European Deputies” (Lettres aux députés européens), a Swiss writer and promoter of European federalism in the 1950s, Denis de Rougemont, wrote that it was difficult to place Europe in one space and time. Clearly, the Europe which is seen from nearby, from within or on the periphery, is different from the Europe that is seen from afar. For example, from a remote continent.

July 14, 2022 - Kinga Gajda

A tale of emotions

A review of Beanpole. A film directed by Kantemir Balagov, Russia, 2019.

February 15, 2022 - Kinga Gajda

The journey of revisiting 1989

A review of The Legacy of Division: East and West after 1989. Edited by: Ferenc Laczó and Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič. Publisher: Central European University Press / Eurozine, Budapest/Vienna, 2020.

February 3, 2021 - Kinga Gajda

A deltiology of memory

A review of The Geopolitics of Memory. A Journey to Bosnia. By: James Riding. Publisher: Ibidem Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany, 2019.

July 7, 2020 - Kinga Gajda

Stimulating local memory

A review of "Everyday Life – Politics – Combat Training. Soviet armed forces in germany 1945-1994." An exhibit at the German-Russian Museum, Berlin-Karlshorst, Germany, August 28th 2019 – January 15th 2020.

April 6, 2020 - Kinga Gajda

The short-lived Weimar cultural scene

From today’s perspective, the Weimar period should not only be seen as a time of vibrant artistic life but also as a warning of what can put democracy at risk. The experience of the Weimar Republic teaches us that democracy’s enemies can be found within the system, while politics can help to both stimulate artistic expression and constrain it.

Culturally speaking, the Weimar Republic was an extremely vibrant period in German life. It was a time of new artistic trends which included the works of great artists like Marlena Dietrich, Thomas Mann and Gerhart Hauptmann, to name just a few. This was also the period of the theatre of Max Reinhardt and Bertold Brecht, who’s Threepenny Opera was enriched by the music of Kurt Weille. In addition, this period saw a rapid development in the visual arts, including film and photography.

November 12, 2019 - Kinga Gajda

Attempting to escape the unescapable

A review of Under Pressure. By: Faruk Šehić. Publisher: Istros Books, London, 2019.

August 26, 2019 - Kinga Gajda

The house that Mykola built

Mykola Golovan believes that Ukraine is changing and becoming even more beautiful. It is being built anew, just as he has been rebuilding his house. It only needs to get rid of some wrongful ideologies and open itself more to the world.

“I get my energy from the river. Recently I was bathing in the Vistula river, but it was cold and I could not stay there very long” – these are the first words I hear from Mykola Golovan who continues with his life story to tell me more about his art. Indeed, the story told by this 75-year old Ukrainian artist from Lutsk is not so much expressed by his words as it is to be found in the language of culture. It is depicted in his sculptures, bas-reliefs, rotundas and ornaments. For over 30 years now, Golovan has been the creator of a house which he calls an exhibition.

January 2, 2019 - Kinga Gajda

The liberating holiday of Sânziene

A review of Bottled Goods. By Sophie van Llewyn. Publisher: Fairlight books, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2018.

Sânziene is a Romanian word for fairy. It comes from the Latin word Sancta Diana, the name of the ancient Roman goddess of the hunt and the moon. She watches over women during Sânziene, and her holiday has been celebrated in the western Carpathians since the time of Roman Dacia (ancient Romania). The yearly festivities on June 24th have claimed its place in Romanian folklore, associated with girls and women in white dresses looking for flowers that they can use to make crowns. Then they dance around a fire, jumping over the embers, to cleanse themselves and gain magical powers. Finally, they throw the crowns they made from the flowers over the houses. When a crown lands on the roof there will be a good harvest and wealth, if it falls on the ground there will be death. The protagonist of Sophie van Llewyn’s novel Bottled Goods takes part in this long forgotten ritual, which was illegal to practice in communist Romania.

January 2, 2019 - Kinga Gajda

A nomadic writer

What interested Herbert the most were diversity and human beings. To understand them he was constantly deepening his knowledge, travelled to many places, all to experience different cultures and meet new people.

Zbigniew Herbert wrote many collections of poems and essays. Yet, there is one book that he never wrote, even though he should have. Or maybe he wrote such a book, but not literally. Not as a titled volume, but as many single pages. As a matter of fact, he was fully aware that many of his anthropological and sociological texts remained in drafts and excerpts. In his 1965 essay titled “Mr Montaigne’s journey to Italy” which was published in Tygodnik Powszechny a year later he admitted: “When a moment comes that my body will have only enough strength to fix the pillow under the head, I will have no choice but write a large piece of work, that is a book and not a collection of drafts, which will be titled: Introduction to the theory of journey.”

September 1, 2018 - Kinga Gajda

Joseph Conrad. A Polish and European writer

Joseph Conrad was born as Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in Berdychiv (today in Ukraine) in 1857. He was a child of a Polish noble family that was involved in the conspirational fight for Poland’s independence. After the death of his mother the young Conrad moved to Kraków from where he later emigrated to France and later Great Britain. In Marseille he became a sailor and since then the whole world was his home. According to literary critic Rafał Marceli Blüth, the decision to ”fraternise with the element of the sea and the element of the peoples who were not deformed by civilisation”, as non-Europeans were called back then, were Conrad’s attempts to distance himself from his homeland, his nation and European culture overall. The truth, however, is that he never abandoned any of them. Conrad returned to Poland several times later on in life.

August 1, 2017 - Kinga Gajda

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