Kraków is widely recognized as one of the centres of Jewish revival in Poland—indeed, in all of Europe. That revival is complicated—as fractious as it is full of promise, as tangled as it is exciting. It includes several local Jewish communities, visiting Jews with their own perspectives on Jewish life and loss in Poland, non-Jewish Poles drawn to Judaism and Jewishness (some with Jewish heritage themselves), and a host of public institutions devoted to Jewish life and history. With its past unreconciled to its present, Jewish renewal in Kraków is caught between the legacies of the Holocaust and Communist repression, as well as the current tides of tourism and gentrification.
FestivALT is an independent arts collective that operates at the intersection of these forces, producing an annual program of critically minded Jewish art and activism. Combining theater, visual art, site-specific performance, activist intervention, and community conversation, FestivALT brings wit, humor, and a bit of chutzpah to the complexities of contemporary Jewish Poland.
This third edition of FestivALT focus especially on the topic of women and agency through history. With several projects—among them, Michelle Levy and Patrycja Dołowy’s ongoing investigation into the story of one woman’s life, sculpture works by Stephania Freda Leigh addressing the legacies of sexual violence during the Holocaust, a short play by Noemi Berkowitz about a Jewish woman forging a new queer family, prints by pioneering photographer Amalia Krieger, and an evening of lectures and performances hosted by burlesque artist Betty Q—we ask: How have women through history found agency in oppressive circumstances? What can be reclaimed and re-addressed of women’s narratives buried long ago? What new stories may emerge at the fringes of the old ones? We invite you to join in the conversation and become part of our growing community.
FestivALT 2019 is dedicated in memory of Ewa Maniawski (1961–2019). May her memory be a blessing.