Austrian capital honours Polish sci-fi great Lem
The Austrian capital Vienna is hosting a festival in honour of the acclaimed Polish science-fiction writer Stanisław Lem, who was born a century ago.
Stanisław Lem (1921-2006), pictured in May 2005.Photo: PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk
Lem’s centenary is being celebrated in Poland as the Year of Lem, and now Vienna, the writer’s home in the 1980s, has joined in, staging a series of musical events collectively dubbed the Lem Festival.
Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute (IAM) is the driving force behind the project, in co-operation with the ImPuls Tanz festival and the Klangforum Wien ensemble.
During the events, which run through the end of July, dancers and musicians are expected to invite audiences „to reflect on the possibility of communication with 'the Alien,'” according to the Polish institute.
This is because, a century after Lem was born, and following the NASA rover’s landing on Mars, this question has again become our civilisation’s most pressing problem, the organisers have said.
They noted that Polish students have enjoyed much success in Mars rover competitions, whose European edition is held in Poland every year.
„Now Polish culture will share its thoughts on the subject” with the Viennese public, the organisers added.
IAM’s deputy director Urszula Penczek said Lem’s work „has inspired choreographers, dancers and composers of contemporary music,” and the institute has set them the ambitious task of showing Viennese audiences „the universal values underpinning the great writer’s work.”
They will be accompanied by the Klangforum Wien, „one of the world’s most renowned contemporary music collectives, with whom we have already worked for 10 years,” Penczek added.
One of the highlights of the Lem Festival and the Year of Lem as a whole will be a concert at Vienna’s Odeon Theatre on July 30, when new pieces by Polish composers Mikołaj Laskowski and Żaneta Rydzewska will have their world premieres.
Entitled Fiasco and To My Stars respectively, these works have been composed in the Austrian capital and inspired by Lem’s writing.
The event will also feature a piece called Welovelive by Cezary Duchnowski and Aleksander Nowak’s new work Lo firgai (The Mask), commissioned by IAM and based on Lem’s short story of the same name.
The dance installment of the Lem Festival is made up of two shows that will be held on July 29 and 31 at Vienna’s Ehemaliges Gustinus-Ambrosi-Museum.
The first, directed by Karol Tymiński and featuring music by Poland’s Wojciech Blecharz, is based on Lem’s final novel Fiasco, which he wrote in Vienna.
The second, overseen by Austrian artist Malika Fankha, will include contributions from composer Mikołaj Laskowski, filmmaker Timotheus Tomicek and artist Ana Rajčević.
Both shows, co-produced by the ImPuls Tanz festival, are set to feature live music by the Klangforum Wien.
Lem, who died in 2006 at the age of 85, was one of Poland’s most famous authors.
His books, revolving around the future of planet Earth and the human species, were often turned into film. The George Clooney-starring Solaris (2002), for example, is based on Lem’s 1961 novel of the same title.
Lem’s oeuvre, which also features short stories and philosophical essays, contains acclaimed works such as Return from the Stars, Tales of Pirx the Pilot, The Cyberiad and The Chain of Chance.
Lem was hailed by many as a visionary. His works have been translated into dozens of languages.
IAM, which was established by the Polish Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport, seeks to promote Polish culture abroad. It has conducted projects in 70 countries worldwide.