The migrational influx of communities from Eastern and Central Europe into the UK, requires cultural representation, along with mechanisms allowing for integration with other local communities which already exist within cities that understand themselves through their cultural diversity.
‘The Visitor’ is a fifteen-minute documentary made as part of ‘From East of West with Love’, a project curated by Polish and British artists: Emilia Moniszko and Rob Hamp. This venture has emerged from a growing cultural sector response to Eastern and Central European migrations and their implications for cultural policy, particularly in cities. This project acts as a vehicle for dialogue and networking across all cultures on the subject of the reality of cultural diversity, breaking through the apathy and scepticism following the political decline of ‘multiculturalism’. Communication between the East and West will take on many different strands encapsulating all areas of society. Within current political affairs it has become important to reflect on the connections and support mechanisms between countries and cultures across Europe but there remains a huge amount of confusion and a lack of strategic action on the part of cultural and civil society actors. Who is doing what? Is it enough, and what could we do, given the fragmented and embattled state of contemporary Europe?
The film focuses on Pawel Hajncel, a Polish performance artist who was invited to undertake a residency for the project. Hajncel is one of the most radical, subversive and uncompromising artists in Poland. His public interventions are often the cause of national debates, as well as debates across all platforms including social media. His performances comment on political, religious and social affairs in Poland which are often censored resulting in arrests and convictions. During the residency, Pawel investigates ‘How arts are used to make us reflect upon the current state of affairs?’ as well as ‘How public space can act as an authentic medium of expression both for the performer and the spectator?’. In his performance titled ‘Patriotism for Sale’ he is addressing the attitudes of migrants who fled their home countries in pursuit of sustainable future.
‘The Visitor’, made by a young Polish artist who herself is an economic immigrant, who came to England at age of thirteen, aims to find out more about the situation present in Poland as well as the differences between the two countries from a perspective of a fellow artist. This documentary is a personal account into Pawel Hajncel’s life, who offers an insightful perspective into international, contemporary art which more frequently is a tool that fights political and religious oppression in a modern Europe.
Pawel became a friend, a friend of mine and my family. Throughout our short collaboration I have learnt more about my own country than through the first 13 years of my life living there. This documentary is an honest expression of an artist fighting for art and the freedom of expression in a currently extremist Catholic country. Despite his recognition Pawel is humble, we need more humble artists, more humble people.