Our main goal is to facilitate understanding between the Czech Republic and Romania. We are effectively providing professional contacts, sharing our experiences and supporting the projects with the potential to speak to a Romanian audience. I am continuing to walk in the path of my predecessors who founded very successful projects such as the ‘Soundczech’ music festival, the regular film event ‘Documentary Mondays’, the film festival dedicated to human rights ‘One World Romania’ and the special edition ‘Cartea Cehă’ in collaboration with Curtea Veche Publishing House.
In March I replaced my predecessor and I started activity with an important event – Bookfest 2015 – the biggest meet-up of publishers, authors and book dealers in Romania, where we held the position of guest of honour. With the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bucharest, with our sponsors, partners and particularly translators, we have created one of the most extensive cultural events in city within the last 25 years. We organize more than 20 scheduled activities for the book fair area: book launches, public readings, debates and events dedicated to the Czech language. Tomáš Zmeškal’s book, Love Letter in Cuneiform Writing was the best sold title from the collection and the second best selling title in the translations of world literature published by the Curtea Veche Publishing House. Our presence at Bookfest was accompanied by events such as ‘Kundera in film’ – the screening of three films based on Milan Kundera’s novels, watched by hundreds of people, and the exhibition ‘Goodbye Language’; which connected readers with the art scene and philosophy as well as local artists with their Czech counterparts.
‘Now you shall eat bread, and then you shall drink water’
We have discovered that literature is not only about the reading, books and translation, and so we are contextualizing literature in other media. Our focus covers social sciences, theatre and visual art forms. For the National History Museum in Bucharest the Czech Centre has prepared a large exhibition ‘Acum vei mânca pâine, apoi vei bea apă’ (Now you shall eat bread, and then you shall drink water) which is dedicated to the Hittite language, the first known Indo-European language recorded in script. The title of the exhibition is also the first sentence that was deciphered in 1915 by prof. Bedřich Hrozný, the Czech orientalist and linguist. The exhibition consists of two parts; a panel installation made by the Náprstek Museum in Prague, and a sound and video installation created by the visual artist Pavel Sterec. The video essay and the sound installation ‘A cultural constant, a language continuum’ aim to look at aspects of Hrozný’s work which was considered by the vast majority of people to be controversial (especially at the times of Bedřich Hrozný). By contrast, today such aspect seems to be courageous and adventurous – demonstrating the intuitive and associative approach of Bedřich Hrozný. The exhibition is curated by the Czech Centre, and runs until 29 November 2015.
Parallel to our main agenda we have launched the new exhibition project – the ‘Future Museum’ – based on democratic principles such as openness and transparency. The Future Museum is set to support the mobility of the artists inside Romania, between the Republic of Moldova and Bucharest, also endorsing the covering of production costs. Next year, the Future Museum will support four artists. Besides the artists, curators can also apply and we are awaiting the projects with focus on theoretical or political context.
In general, this year is a period with very dynamic expansion of many events, venues and activities. Up until now our spectators were dependent on our tastes and the recommendations of what to export from our domestic country. We have entered a period where it is very necessary to support self-confidence here in Romania; this self-belief we are describing as a moment when we are using local resources and local concepts. We are very critical in relation to the basing of cultural missions on the export of certified or verified products and ideas, with the criteria as success in the country of their origin. In other words it is a process of normalization, a process of creating the universality of what is in fact cultural entertainment. For the Czech Centre it is important to stand behind the specific values of the Romanian environment and to support and endorse local qualities. Therefore, in the near future we will concentrate on our collaboration with local artists, authors and specialists such as above-mentioned Future Museum. We are again in a transition period moving in the direction of greater involvement and artistic, cultural stimulation.