Kosmopoles in Bochum: European culture with a Polish focus from the Ruhr area
Embracing industrial culture with a festival
In the year after it was founded, the association introduced itself with a bang. The Kosmopolen Festival in February and March 2009 clearly revealed the full bandwidth of the association. In the Stanzwerk in Bochum-Sundern, Ksymena Woka, who was born in Bochum, and the performance writer Wojciech Stamm read from their works. Music was provided by the Polish jazz double bass player Vitold Rek and his band EastWestWind, and Disguise, Katrin Mickiewicz’s band from Essen, combined Polish and Bulgarian elements in their own compositions. The programme was rounded off with paintings and photographs from Krzysztof Gruse on the walls. Just a short time later, the Stanzwerk became part of the Industrial Heritage Trail. Coincidence?
Many other events were to follow which showcased the creative potential of established and emerging “not-just-Poles”. In interviews, Emanuela Danielewicz always stresses that she recognises talent and wants to encourage it whenever she can. Many of the initiatives involve concepts that can be staged again and again with a permanent or changing ensemble. One of these is “Remember” – a concert/reading evening to remember the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. In 2011, the band Kroke played at this occasion and Joanna Stanecka and Frank Wickermann gave readings in the Bochum Christuskirche.
The cooperative had a special connection with the Westphalian State Museum of Industrial Culture Zeche Hannover in the Bochum district of Hordel on the border with Herne-Eickel. In 2011, “Ein Mehr sehen”, a multidisciplinary festival, was held there as part of the Poland-NRW-Year 2011/2012. The exhibitions at the museum are mainly devoted to the topic of immigration. Kosmopolen also embraced this subject matter, and again there were music and readings involving many artists. “Ein Mehr sehen”, the title of this weekend of initiatives, refers to the fact that, in contrast to many other migrant groups, Poles in Germany are always somewhat inconspicuous. But for Kosmopolen, it was about making all these influences visible. At the end, Dietmar Osses, historian and head of the Zeche Hannover Museum, gave a talk entitled “From Ruhr Poles to Cosmopoles” to honour the activities within the initiative. In his talk, he demonstrated the transition that there has been in external perceptions: Yesterday, Poles were the invisible grafters, today they can be seen and heard on all platforms.
The fact that the initiative for all these events did not come from the association itself, but was suggested by sources outside the association who then extended the invitation, is testimony to the good network of the association’s members. Networking is also connecting, it is visibility. At the same time, this situation also shows just how popular the Kosmopolen were and still are. The Kasienki – Katrin Mickiewicz, Kasia Bortnik and Benjamin Garcia – practically see the children in the audience at the Christmas concerts “Kasienki & Kolędy” growing up because they come to the concerts each year.