A little observation. As long as I can remember, I’ve been hearing constant complaints about the lack of interest in culture. I’ve been hearing that our society has no appreciation for culture, is not interested in it, doesn’t want to devote time to culture. I’ve been hearing that organizing cultural events makes little sense as no one cares. In on word I’ve been hearing all the time that the activists and artists are trying so hard but the society isn’t ready for art and, despite the best intentions … and so on.
Then, it turns out that the TV transmission from the Chopin Piano Competition broke all the records of popularity not only abroad but also in Poland. At the lecture by Erwin Olaf all the places were taken. And I don’t mean only the chairs but also on the stairs as well as every place where you could stand. At the opening of the exhibition by the same author it was nearly impossible to squeeze in; the same situation repeated at exhibitions by Zofia Rydet and Kacper Kowalski. A moment ago I came back from the screening of The Salt of the Earth; the room was packed full; I couldn’t see a single free chair.
And now for the question. Is the problem really the society, the fact we are not ready for culture? Is it really so that we have regressed as a society and are only interested in concerts of pop music and in chainstore hamburger restaurants? Or maybe the problem is really not so much in the audience as in the artists and institutions of culture? Maybe the reason for the desperately poor attendance is not the fact that the broadly understood culture holds little interest to us but the fact that only too often galleries, theatres or concert halls offer work that is shallow, empty, simply mediocre? Maybe the real issue is that the vast majority of cultural evens is held in order to get grants, financing on which not only the salaries but the very existence of the institution depend? And grants are most easily won by kow towing to the current expectations of officials in power, not by creating valuable art. Maybe the problem is, eventually, in the quality of art itself, in the quality of artistic production of artist who frequently (though not always) can only be noticed in the environment of friends and acquaintences, in the environment of mutual dependencies. Maybe the problem is in the works where the thought up ideology is supposed to cover the lack of skill or, worse still, inspiration and artistic vision?
Of course, this is just a loose thought and it is quite possible I am entirely wrong. But then, if some events are attended by crowds while others have literally no audience, if people are willing to travel to London or Berlin in order to visit an exhibition and at the same time don’t visit those organized in Gdańsk or Warsaw, maybe there is a grain of truth in my loose thoughts?