In this week's round-up, we pay a visit to the Polish pavillion at Expo 2000
Expo 2000 opened in Hanover with much gusto this month, and people from all over the world are flocking to see the world's wonders squeezed into different countries' pavilions. One such visitor was Marek Oramus, who went to Hanover and a week ago shared his impressions with Polish readers in the Polityka weekly. The impression he got, however, is not a positive one. The Polish pavilion, according to Oramus, had a rather depressing look about it and certainly didn't help dispel the notion that Poland is still stuck in 19th century, while the rest of Europe is advancing into the 21st.
So what does the Polish pavilion look like according to Marek Oramus's report (and not only his)? Upon entering it, one sees a little, cobble-stoned market square with wooden houses, folklore style. In the middle of the square, there is a fake stream and a willow growing beside it, decorated with tiny birdhouses, built by loving hands in order to protect the fragile lives of all those nice sparrows, no doubt. "An essence of Poland," writes Oramus ironically, and he is quite right.
There are some high-tech feasts in the pavilion too, but they are rather hidden. A possible strong point is the link to two great Polish astronomers whose discoveries were landmarks of science: Copernicus and Aleksander Wolszczan (discoverer of the first planet outside our solar system). A nice mix of a tradition and modernity perhaps. But this rural atmosphere of the whole...
Keeping in mind, of course, that Poland is aspiring to be a member
|Travelling to Poland soon? Choose Hotels Central at HotelsPoland.com to reserve a hotel online at a great price.|
They will only have their earlier stereotypical views of Poland confirmed: that it is a country of deep-rooted, 19th-century cultural traditions (recent blockbusters in cinemas were all based on 19th-century literature, the unnerving habit of idealizing the failed struggle for independence of the 19th-century and the even more unnerving certainty that Poland's traditional, Catholic culture is superior to others) that boasts its rural past and considers it a factor that sets it apart from the rest of Europe, which advances forward so fast that it forgets its past.
The Polish pavilion at Expo 2000 is symptomatic of the difficulties new cultural and technological ideas have had in finding favour with Poles. A typical set of associations exploited by many cultural policy-makers in Poland consists of folklore, author Henryk Sienkiewicz, Chopin and film-maker Andrej Wajda. And that is all. With all due respect to what those names represent, they can hardly be seen as anything vigorous, as something that is advancing the cultural development of today.
By all means I hope everyone visits Expo 2000 while vacationing this summer, but please do not get influenced by what Poland has on offer there. Culture, if isolated, degenerates. So will the Polish pavilion, if not visited - which would be good.
Wojtek Kość, 19 June 2000