The central motif of the Łódź of Four Cultures Festival 2017 is alphabet, that is, a common element for our civilisation and, at the same time, different for each of the cultures. Art also has its own alphabet, and artists create their own signs or give them a new meaning. In the Year of the Avant-Garde, referring to the Strzemiński Alphabet, we want to draw attention to the versatility, as well as the artist’s individual expression verging on the possibility of decoding. Moreover, the alphabet means putting in order, expressing thoughts, and establishing the beginning and basis (education), which refers to the festival in a new formula: something new, waiting to be learned.
The alphabet means reading, and this requires specific attention. However, in a public space, reading requires something more: adoring the place, staying there until the sense of the statement is understood. Therefore, the combination of a mural and an inscription is an opportunity to create a situation where the artist feels more responsible and the audience feels more needed. Instead of another anesthetizing event, an additional communication space will be created, whereas various languages refer to the mixing up of languages from the Book of Genesis. The co-presence of different languages expresses both anxiety about the unknown and a promise of something new.
An example of the multicultural dialogue is also the art of women who, through their creative activity, constantly demand attention for themselves. Hence the artistic activities presenting women’s art has a function that complements the dialogue of cultures: a) as a dialogue of genders; b) as a dialogue of what is promoted and belittled; c) as a dialogue of what is visible and hidden.
The activities related to visual arts, leaving a permanent and recognizable track in the public space, express the values related to the concept of the multicultural Łódź. This concept can be understood at least in two ways. Referring to the past, it reflects the founding myth and refers to the foundations of the local identity co-created by four ethnic groups, four languages and four cultures, whereas with reference to the present day, it expresses and affirms the idea of tolerance, seeking communication beyond differences and a creative, intercultural dialogue. The passage from what is detailed and local to what is general and universal has been taken into consideration both in the selection of artists invited to the festival, and in the process of creating works. During the festival, we want to show what this dialogue is, not only in relation to the title Four Cultures, but also to draw attention to the discourse between the artist and space, the creator and audience, the woman and man, public and private, as well as temporary and lasting in time. Besides, our goal also is to evaluate, through different activities, what the dialogue of Four Cultures and dialogue in general mean to the inhabitants of the present Łódź and what their idea for the formula of the festival is.
The artistic activities are located in the areas meaningful for the multicultural identity of the city – in the Old Town, whose city-creating role has been restored for some time; in Bałuty, where grass-roots initiatives are strong, providing favourable conditions for formulating the contemporary identity of this district, and in the “Red” Widzew with its history of the textile-industry and revolutionary Łódź.