Kitchen of Diversity, one of the seven flagships of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, was announced on Friday, 4 October, in Varaždin. Minorities, migrations and activism make up the central theme of Kitchen of Diversity. These themes weave in various ways through music, literary, culinary and even football events as well as visual art and festivals that will be held in Rijeka in 2020. Although it won’t present its eventful culture and arts programme until next year, this European capital of Culture flagship has been active since 2017 when the inaugural Porto Etno World Music and Gastro Festival took place and the Migrants Day was celebrated.
Lela Vujanić, Head of Kitchen of Diversity, pointed out that “Port of Diversity”, the motto of the European Capital of Culture project in Rijeka, is based on values that best exemplify Rijeka’s openminded, multicultural and tolerant spirit, which are also the values on which the Kitchen of Diversity programme is founded:
“This Kitchen allows the Romani people and individuals with developmental disabilities to become mentors at workshops and actors on the stage of the national theatre, respectively. We want to use the Kitchen of Diversity programme of the ECoC project as a platform for sending a message of unity, solidarity and mutual respect to the world as well as reminding the citizens of Croatia that diversity connects people instead of separating them.”
The Kitchen of Diversity programme aims to send message of unity, solidarity and mutual respect to the world
The audience have had a chance to attend the majority of the programmes taking place in 2020 as part of Kitchen of Diversity during the pre-programme phase. These include the following: The Porto Etno World Music and Gastro Festival, Festival of the European Short Story, Migrants Day, Minor Literatures Revue, Smoqua – Festival of Feminist and Queer Culture, all of which will be expanded and extended in 2020, with the addition of a new programme One City: One Goal – European Capitals of Culture Cup and Football Chant Concert.
Irena Kregar Šegota, Director of Partnerships and Communications of Rijeka 2020, noted that, along with an eventful programme for 2020, longterm cultural projects, such as festivals and events, are being developed, cultural buildings are being built and investments are being made in educating the people as part of the preparations for the European Capital of Culture programme. This is a way for the European Commission to embed culture in the long-term development of cities.
Culture and arts programme of Kitchen of Diversity in 2020
Afrofuturism as a movement and art at Migrants Day
Although the International Migrants Day is celebrated on 18 December, the programme dedicated to migrants will be held in April of 2020. The theme of Migrants Day is afrofuturism as a cultural and political movement that, on the one hand, takes African tradition, aesthetics, history and power relationships and places these elements within the context of contemporary art – music, fine arts, design, education, photography etc. This gives African culture, which has been unduly marginalised for centuries, a voice and allows it to, in a way, shape its future, by actualising its stolen past. Also visiting Rijeka is the African-American art collective Black Quantum Futurism (US) comprising activists Rasheedah Phillips and Camea Ayewa. Camea Ayewa, who is known to the wider audience as the experimental musician and poet Moor Mother, will perform music honouring afrofuturism at the Youth Cultural Centre Palach. The Italian theorist and activist Franco Bifo Berardi will recite poetry about the “Mediterranean holocaust“, while the nomad artist Babi Badalov will place a light installation, addressing the recent migrant crisis, in the neighbourhood of Potok in Rijeka.
Special edition of Smoqua provides 3 days of queer art, activism and entertainment
The 4th annual Smoqua International Festival of Queer and Feminist Culture will be held from 21 to 23 May with a programme that blends art, activism and entertainment and allows visitors to learn more about the significance and history of the queer and feminist movements and experience queer and feminist culture through performances, a concert, exhibitions, art and activist interventions in public spaces, workshops and panel discussions.
The theme of Smoqua 2020 is “Semo Qua” or “Here we are” in Fiuman (a local dialect of Venetian), which is the slogan aptly used to mark and celebrate the 20th anniversary of LORI, the first registered lesbian organisation in Croatia. The LORI 20th anniversary exhibition, which comprises photos and projections of written and oral testimonies given by people that contributed to the activities of LORI and LGBTIQ activism in Rijeka and Croatia over the years, will be displayed on panels at the Rijeka Korzo, along which stickers will be placed showing statistics on the position of women and LGBTIQ people in Croatia. The Feminist Walk Through Rijeka, which centres on the research on women who left an indelible mark on Rijeka and whose contribution has largely gone unacknowledged and unnoticed, will also take place as part of the festival. This pioneering research in Rijeka, which will also be presented at the festival, is conducted by the Centre for Women’s Studies at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, in cooperation with the University of Rijeka Department of Cultural Studies. The walk can be viewed online on the websites of Smoqua’s partner organisation through a series of photos and descriptions and by taking a walking tour of said locations during Smoqua.
Also participating in the festival are artists and activists from Canada, USA, Russia, Great Britain, Norway, Austria, Cyprus, Greece and other countries. The Body // Language // Archive art collective will also visit Smoqua and hold a performance workshop as well as give a performance. This Berlin-based collective comprises 6 queer artist from various European countries. Their work deals with the consequences of discrimination, exclusion and violence suffered by queer people as well as their resistance, solidarity and empowerment. The non-profit organisation CUNTemporary is coming from Great Britain to hold a workshop on queer and feminist curating strategies named Art as Means of Change as well as screen short films by a variety of artists that show how lesbian erotica was used to blur the lines between art, pornography and politics.
Also performing at Smoqua is Cassils, described by the Huffington Post as “one of ten transgender artists who are changing the landscape contemporary art”.
Legendary Kantrida Stadium offers an unusual blend of football and music
The One City: One Goal programme is dedicated to music and football, two perennially important topics among the denizens of Rijeka that are inextricably linked with the identity of Rijeka. The Kvarner Riviera is a traditional U-19 football tournament organised by HNK Rijeka that takes place every June since 1953. Teams from European capitals of culture will participate in the 2020 Kvarner Riviera, which will be held from 15 to 21 June and renamed the European Capitals of Culture Cup. Boys’ and girls’ ECoC U-19 teams will face off at the legendary Kantrida Stadium and several other stadiums in Rijeka and the surrounding area. Well-known soloists, bands and choirs accompanied by a symphony orchestra will perform football chants by European and Croatian clubs during the opening ceremony.
The biggest and most eventful Porto Etno – World Music and Gastro Festival yet with over 300 participants
The 4th annual Porto Etno in 2020 will be held over four days (3-6 September) and the main programme will feature more than 100 performers and 20 worldwide cuisines at the gastro fair, along with accompanying folk dance, educational and children’s programmes. Ever since the first Porto Etno, visitors have been able to enjoy performances by carefully selected world music bands. Although the musical lineup of the festival is pending, the following bands have been confirmed for 2020: Balkan Brass Battle (Macedonian Brass Band Džambo Aguševi Orchestra and Romanian Brass Band Fanfare Ciocarlia), Lado National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia Lado and the Kolo National Ensemble of Folk Dances and Songs of Serbia, which will be performing in the joint programme Hand in Hand 3.0.
The gastro portion of the programme will introduce 20 worldwide cuisines. National minority associations from the city of Rijeka and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County will be cooking food for the festival visitors.
The head of the gastro programme is masterchef Srđana Jevtić, who joined the authorial team in 2019, while the head of the musical programme is Zoran Majstorović, a jazz musician from Rijeka who has participated in the organisation of the festival in this role since its premiere in 2017. The folk dance, educational and children’s programmes will provide accompanying activities for visitors.
Rijeka as the literary Port of Diversity in collaboration with the Festival of the European Short Story and the Hay Festival from Great Britain
For the first time, the 2020 Festival of the European Short Story will open in Rijeka in collaboration with one of the most prestigious festivals in the world, the Hay Festival from Great Britain. The theme of this special edition of the FotESS is Port of Diversity, welcoming renowned European and global authors to Rijeka. The week-long programme will be held from 31 May to 6 June and consist of public readings, book promotions, discussions, lectures, literary workshops and social gatherings. The festival will also feature the programme Croatian Writers Cooking as well as a football match between writers and artists from the region. The Short Stories – Short Films programme will bring together authors, animators and video artists, the Story Driven programme will have writers and taxi drivers from Rijeka join forces again, while secondary school pupils and writers will meet up as part of the Writers and Kids programme. Following last year’s successful premiere and a large number of applications, the competition for the best short story by a young author under the age of 19 will be held for the second time. As part of a literary collaboration between the Irish and Croatian Capitals, the Galway in Rijeka programme will present the Irish literary and art scene, while Croatian writers will visit Galway for the Cuirt Festival.
Another notable programme is Europe 28 – Visions for the Future, which is implemented in cooperation with the Hay Festival and gathers 28 women authors, artists and scholars from 28 countries of the EU. They will share their vision for the future of Europe with the attendees over the course of three days and their short stories and essays will be featured in the anthology and presented at discussions, readings and performances in Rijeka. The festival’s authorial team comprises Roman Simić, Petra Bušelić, Tatjana Peruško, Gordana Matić, Tomislav Kuzmanović, Ivan Jozić, Andrija Škare and Stjepan Balent.
A literary journey to the Balkan and Arab Mediterranean with the Minor Literatures revue
The programme is geographically oriented towards the Mediterranean, especially the Balkan and Arab regions, seeing how these areas have been hotbeds of migration in the last couple of decades and migration has always been a familiar topic to Rijeka. On 25 and 26 May, The Return of Imagination will present works by authors and artists from (including, but not limited to) the aforementioned regions in the form of staged readings, lectures, film screenings and concerts. What makes this iteration of the Minor Literatures Revue, named The Return of Imagination, special is that it is inspired by a warning from Daša Drndić, a renowned writer from Rijeka, how “there are no minor fascisms”, regardless of how minor they may seem, and that persecution, migration and the fight against hatemongering ideology is a universal topic. This is why writers from the Balkans and Western Europe, some born and others emigrating there, will be introduced in Rijeka along with the authors from Arab countries.
Coming to the festival are the Yemenite poet Galal Alahmadi, whose poems often criticise tradition and Islam, the multi-award winning German crime novel author, screenwriter and director Merle Kröger, Berlin-based Egyptian writer Haytham el-Wardany, Iranian anthropologist Shahram Khosravi, whose work focuses on migration and human rights, underground author from Tuzla Damir Avdić and the Croatian authors Ivana Peruško an Tea Tulić.
The Revue’s authorial team consists of Adania Shibli and the literary programmatist Miljenka Buljević.
Romani mentors at workshops on the repurposement of discarded items
Roum Up Days is the culmination of a two-year collaborative project between Romani people and artists, who have jointly repurposed discarded waste materials into designer artworks. In 2020, workshops on waste repurposement and education and the potential utilisation thereof, which will be facilitated by Romani workshop attendees from previous years, will be held as part of the Roum Up Days. Citizens can bring old items and learn how to breathe new life into them. There will also be an art exhibition and children playrooms preceded by a competition for the best European design of repurposed waste materials, with the top three contestants coming to Rijeka to hold practical training sessions. Roum Up Days will take place over the course of 5 days and end with a round table and lecture on the topic of applied art and design in social entrepreneurship.
The project was devised by Tamara Puhovski, Jagoda Novak, Siniša Senad Musić i Milan Mitrović.
A different kind of theatre with a play by Peti Ansambl from Rijeka
Peti Ansambl includes young people with developmental and other disabilities striving to become a genuine acting ensemble through training and collaboration with professional actors by staging a play at the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc on 2 October 2020. This unusual and large ensemble has already proved capable of delivering an exciting first-rate stage performance with their first play Progenies, Giants, Gods in June of 2019.
In 2020, the Kitchen of Diversity will resume its Diversity Mixer project, which is implemented in cooperation with the Academy of Applied Arts of the University of Rijeka and the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development as an associate partner. The aim of the project is to foster diversity in the cultural and creative production of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.
In the weeks ahead, we will continue the announcements of the extensive cultural programme that will be taking place in Rijeka during 2020 and which will continue until the end of September and well into October of this year. With our programme, we join the celebration of European cultural diversity next year.