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Institute of Reportage: Culture Is Pricey - questionnaire

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Lena Dula, founder and boss of the A Kuku Sztuka Association, protagonist of Kamil Kaczmarski’s article, answers the questions prepared by the students of the Polish School of Reportage.

Name, age: Lena Dula, 32, daughter of an economist and a master mariner; that’s where her travel bug comes from.

Place of birth: Tricity, Poland.

My place today: Tricity. I work in Gdańsk, Sopot, and Gdynia. The biggest local problem isn’t lack of funding but rather the lack of promoting the metropolis as a whole. And the Tricity area is a really unique place. There’s power in unity, while the current authorities treat it more as a threat. It’s absurd that Gdańsk, with all its potential, is really lacking in the venue department – there’s just not enough room. The city should go the way that Barcelona and Berlin went – we need to revitalize the districts. You can even use that seemingly unattractive infrastructure of housing projects for that purpose. Right now, when the tourists leave, the city becomes half-dead. We can’t have that. And that applies to the two other cities of the Tricity area. This place should be a cultural melting pot – a metropolis, open to the world, with wide horizons. I believe in that vision and I try to bring it to life as much as I possibly can.

I am… Yes, I am, definitely.

I make… culture. At concerts, when everyone is having fun, I go backstage and check what company set up the lights. That’s just one of my kinds. I’m obsessed with print materials. Whenever I see posters of flyers, I touch them, check the weight of the paper. Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly at work. Well, that’s kind of true, actually.

I was… I’m focused on the “I am” part, I don’t think about the past.

I will be… I don’t know who I’ll be. Culture and art are very demanding and unstable. That’s why some people get out of our culture-making business, they just can’t handle the intense tempo of our work. But this instability is our only certainty. I plan only as far as 2011. We’re going to do new mobile projects, subsequent editions of Seaborne Movies, CudaWianki, Transvizualia. We’re also organizing two new events in July. We’re not standing still, we’re making progress and that gives me and my coworkers great pleasure.

Culture is… often people coming to me with ideas for events that make no sense, you can’t make culture for culture’s sake. You have to make it for the people, but there’s no easy ways to do it. It’s about convincing the people to take the first step. That’s how I understand culture for the people.

Poland is… culturally deficient, in all possible ways.

Europe is… waking dream about unity triumphant over all that divides us.

My environment starts... where I feel good, it can be just around the corner or a 1000 kilometers away. I like to push boundaries, especially the mental ones.

My environment ends… I don’t really know. The end is just a limitation.

What I do is important because… it’s only important when it’s important to the people. Culture should evoke emotion in them, indifference is the absolute worst.

A movie that has recently impacted me very profoundly was... Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” Lately I’ve also been consumed by “Six Feet Under,” even though I dislike television and the aesthetics of an easy, enjoyable show. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the “Transformers” movie – I respect new technologies and breadth of production employing hundreds of perfectly coordinated people.

A book that has recently impacted me profoundly was... Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine.” Just reading the first chapter, the facts presented therein and the scale of manipulation she exposed, has left me bewildered.

My biggest influence was... there were no particular person who would’ve influenced my professional development. I became a culture operator by chance, actually. I studied Polish philology and film and TV production. I tried my hand at cultural animation as a student, and it turned out I’m good at it. So I held on to it. Some people will be surprised by me saying so, but I consider animation a form of art. It requires imagination and commitment, sensitivity, openness, and many other characteristics which more often that not we use to describe artists.

This year I’d like to... successfully realize my projects, especially the new ones, which always start with nothing but a blank piece of paper. The results of new projects are rarely predictable, and that’s why I’m impatiently waiting to see how they turn out.

In five years I’d like to… still be passionate about my work and full of ideas. To go forward without the threat of burning out.

The questionnaire is part of “Culture is pricey,” an article written by Kamil Kaczmarski as part of a series of reportages on grassroots cultural/social initiatives in various Polish cities. They were written especially for ECC by students of the Polish School of Reportage established at the Institute of Reportage in Warsaw

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TAGS: Institute of Reportage, Polish School of Reportage, Gdańsk, Tricity, Lena Dula