Celebrating Krakow in Europe

World Press Photo

It is the photograph that left no-one in any doubt of the Taliban’s inhumanity it Afghanistan – a portrait of an 18-year-old woman who fled her husband to escape years of abuse.

But Bibi Aisha, the teenager in question, received neither shelter nor care in her home country. Instead, she was punished for abandoning her husband; her nose and ears were cut off. Only by chance was Bibi rescued by aid workers and US soldiers, and taken to a refugee camp in Kabul. From there, she went to the United States, where she still lives after undergoing plastic surgery.

The shot was taken by South African photographer Jodi Bieber and was flashed around the world on the cover of Time magazine. It quickly caught the attention it deserved, and the World Press Photo judges voted unanimously to award it the top prize in the Portrait – Individual Photos category. So powerful is the image that it is no longer just a photograph, or a record of an innocent teenager’s suffering. It has come to symbolise the misogyny and often brutality that is still a reality in some parts of the world.

Jodi Bieber’s photograph was one of more than 100,000 entries in the World Press Photo awards. It’s not the first time that Beiber has picked up awards at this event, having already claimed eight World Press Photo accolades. Nearly 6,000 other photographers took part this time around, from 125 countries. Between them, they had captured stunning shots of wild animals, people at work, play and war, everyday scenes and more. In all, 54 photographers were awarded prizes this year. They hailed from Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Haiti, Spain, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Poland , South Africa, Somalia, the United States, Hungary and Italy.

One notable prize winner from closer to home was Filip Ćwik. The Newsweek Polska photojournalist was awarded third prize in the People in the News category, for his images of Poland in mourning after the death of the president and other key military and political figures in the Smoleńsk plane crash of April 2010.

When is it? Grand opening, October 7, 1pm. Exhibition opening hours October 8 to 28

Where is it? Bunkier Sztuki, Plac Szczepański 3a

How much does it cost? 12zł (concessions 6zł, family ticket 20zł)

Krakow Theatrical Reminiscences

Imagine trying to answer 2,000 questions in front of an audience that comes and goes as it pleases. That’s one of the tasks set for the British theatre group Forced Entertainment – one of the most hotly anticipated participants in this year’s festival, and an act that has never before performed in Krakow. Their show Quizoola! will be one of the centrepieces of the programme at Bunkier Sztuki, and has been known to last up to six hours (Oct 7). They are also set to appear at Nowa Huta’s Łażnia Nowa theatre, with their satirical and somewhat grotesque The Thrill of it All (Oct 9).

There is more experimental stuff with Wojtek Ziemilski’s Prologue, which functions as a drama but with audience participation. This will be performed daily at Rotunda, from October 8–10, for small audience groups. There is a brave work from Russian group Teatr.doc from October 7–9, who present the world premiere of Two in Your House – about KGB brutality towards a Belarusian presidential candidate – at Teatr Nowy.

The Czech author Franz Kafka’s Amerika has been adapted for a performance at Krakow’s opera house on October 10, and will form part of the Poland/North Rhine-Westphalia season in the city.

Among other highlights will be shows from directors hailing from Latvia, Finland, and Sweden, and the premiere performance of the Marta Górnicka/ Zbigniew Raszewski Theatrical Institute in Warsaw show The Chorus of Women (Oct 9, Rotunda). There will also be dance and musical performances, and smaller fringe events around the city for the duration of the festival.

With so much packed into so few days, it is hardly surprising that this festival is in fact one of the oldest and best-loved theatrical revues in Poland – and it keeps drawing international audiences thanks to its mixed language programme.

When is it? October 6–12

Where is it? Throughout Krakow – see krt-festival.pl and follow the English language link for a full programme

How much does it cost? Various – see website for individual performance prices

Unsound

It’s hard to believe that this is Unsound’s ninth year of inducing a week-long state of euphoria among music nerds and lovers of esoterica. From its humble beginnings in 2003, the Unsound festival has grown into a force to be reckoned with, and now even boasts a New York edition.

Unsound specialises in presenting experimental and avant-garde music in a digestible format, booking obscure, niche artists alongside more recognisable names. While so many music festivals thrive on the familiar, Unsound pushes its listeners to challenge themselves and discover something new – which is why it’s not just the music nerds who love it when Unsound kicks off every October. At its core, Unsound is a week of discovery.

The 2011 edition of Unsound takes its cue from Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book Future Shock, which explores the perception of “too much change in too short a period of time” – an apt description of the schizophrenic state of the music scene today. Alongside the usual film screenings, panel discussions, installations, and workshops, Unsound has prepared nine exhaustive (and inevitably exhausting) days exploring its theme through music.

This year, Unsound has invited pioneers such as Morton Subotnik and Chris & Cosey, the latter with a rare performance of their most influential material, composed when their band Throbbing Gristle first broke up in 1981. Other highlights include Kode9, presenting music composed in homage to the short film La Jetee, as well as a performance by Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer in St. Katherine’s Church in Kazimierz. Unsound is equally known for its Mutations club nights, celebrating the evolution of techno and bass music.

When is it? October 9–16

Where is it? Throughout Krakow – see unsound.pl and follow the English language link for a full programme

How much does it cost? A full pass is 230zł, long weekend and individual concert tickets are also on sale and there are several free events. See the website for details

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