Chopin fest is Poles apart
Friday 24 September 2010
Tomorrow, the south London borough of Southwark twins with Warsaw to celebrate the bicentenary of Chopin's birth. Audio-visual installations will run concurrently in both cities to show his works in a new light.
Where's Chopin? features three generations of Polish artists – Pawel Janicki, Jaroslaw Kapuscinski and veteran Polish video-art practitioner Jozef Robakowski. For the playful Janicki's Mapping Chopin, gallery-goers' movements trigger digitised versions of the romantic composer's scores. Meanwhile, Robakowski plays with the idea of synaesthesia, seeing sound as colour, in Attention:Light, with different tones representing the various notes of Chopin's mazurkas. Kapuscinski also matches visuals to sound, but in Gdzie Jest Chopin? [Where Is Chopin?], notes played on an electronic, midi-capable piano activate projections of listeners filmed at various locations around the world, including Beijing, Sydney and Mexico City. So culture vultures in two countries will be enjoying the same show, though in very different locations.
While the Polish leg of this enterprise forms part of the prestigious Warsaw Autumn, the city's 53rd international festival of contemporary music, London offers a former mission-church in Southwark Park. This is no reflection on the esteem in which Chopin is held here – his representation at this year's Proms shows he is still fondly regarded, though it does show how difficult it is for Polish artists to be taken seriously. Miroslaw Balka's unnerving How It Is in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall suggested the tide was turning, though his peers still face an uphill struggle for recognition.
Where's Chopin?, Dilston Grove, London SE16, 25 September to 10 October (www.polishculture.org.uk)
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