Interview - Arek Kozak
Rosie Lesso talks to Arek Kozak about bringing Poland to Scotland at the Collective
Rosie Lesso The exhibition, Polish-Scottish Cultural Stimulation, makes cultural comparisons in response to the rising number of Polish inhabitants in Edinburgh. As a Polish artist working in Edinburgh, what do you see as the similarities and differences between the two cultures?
Arek Kozak We use similar means of self-expression, such as theatre, painting, sculpture, poetry, prose, film. We have the same cultural basis, so the differences are mostly in the language and the history. The rest is a question of individual development.
RL Could you explain briefly what kind of work you will be bringing together, and how the programme will work?
AK The project includes visual artists, poets, writers, musicians and journalists. The idea is simple: searching out our meaning of words like ‘Motherland’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Identity’, ‘Family’ or ‘God’. They are words with universal dimensions, very trivial for some people, but they are still emotional for the Polish and as far I known for the Scottish too.
RL Which artists will be taking part and how were they selected?
AK We have shared the work: the Collective Gallery’s One Mile Programme invited six Scottish artists and I invited six of my Polish compatriots including Scottish writers called Stuart and Jane Robertson, who have been Poland-based for many years now due to their passion for the country and its culture. We will also be able to see a number of Polish films, such as documentaries and animations.
RL Do you feel part of a Polish artistic community in Edinburgh?
AK Yes. And this group is growing constantly, by building strong connections between Polish and Scottish art communities. There is The Scottish Polish Cultural Association in Edinburgh, a new theatrical project called Cherry Blossom at the Traverse Theatre, and the BAZA project, created as an integration platform which brings together and involves a range of Poles in joint actions with others.
Polish-Scottish Cultural Stimulation, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 22 Mar.