Not long ago the countries of Eastern and Central Europe were presented as proud examples of successful democratic transition. Today we see the rise of illiberalism in the same region. Can activists and cultural operators reverse this alarming trend? Last week, three passionate cultural change-makers, each of them facing democratic challenges and increasing illiberalism in their own societies, came together in De Balie.
Árpád Schilling, activist and artistic director of Krétakör (Hungary) spoke about the challenges the Hungarian society is facing today, and Krétakör’s community-developed projects that reflect the changing political landscape and social urgencies in today’s Hungary. His talk was followed by a conversation with Igor Stokfiszewski (Poland) and Teodor Celakoski (Croatia) about the socio-political reality in these emerging illiberal democracies across Central and Eastern Europe, and the role and impact of culture.
About the participants
Árpád Schilling, Krétakór, Hungary
Theatre maker Árpád Schilling is the founder of Krétakör, an internationally acclaimed theatre group. The group uses dramaturgy as a means to bring different perspectives into debate and conversation. Since 2008 Krétakör has made a determined shift from theatre as a stage-based experience to theatre as a social forum. They work as a collective that enters into direct dialogue with different communities and settings in regional Hungary.
Teodor Celakoski, Culture 2 Commons, Croatia
Guided by the idea that culture can be an agent for transformation, Teodor Celakoski has brought together and mobilised a broad range of citizens to explore new forms of public agency. The many initiatives for which he has been a catalysing force include the Multimedia Institute with its cultural centre MaMa as a junction of various communities focusing on digital culture, human rights and critical theory; Clubture, a collaborative platform which connects independent cultural organisations in Croatia; and Right to the City (Pravo na Grad), an alliance engaging citizens and communities against the privatisation of urban commons. Celakoski is a pivotal figure in shaping Croatia’s independent cultural scene and committed to making real democratic processes possible.
Igor Stokfiszewski, Krytyka Polityczna, Poland
Igor Stokfiszewski (1979) is a literary and theatre critic specialising in politically engaged art. Since 2006 he has been a member of the Polish leftwing movement Political Critique, where he works as activist, editor and journalist. He was a member of the team overseeing the 7th Berlin Biennale (2012).
This program was organized by the European Cultural Foundation and De Balie, on the occasion of the Prinses Margriet Awards 2016, and is part of the run-up towards ‘Re:Creating Europe’.