Cultural Heritage

Culture in Exile

Culture in Exile is a cyclical program presenting the cultural diversity of Cracow, in particular supporting artists and cultural audiences who, as a result of difficult social or political circumstances, were forced to leave their homeland and chose Cracow as a place to live and work. It is no coincidence that it was in Villa Decius that the initiative promoting cooperation between artists from different countries was born. It is here – in the Villa built by a newcomer from distant Alsace, Justus Ludwig Decius – that we want to emphasize and strengthen the character of Cracow as a city open and building its cultural potential based on the heritage of visitors and close contacts with artists from other countries.

About the project:

“Culture in Exile” is a project implemented by the Villa Decius Association and the Villa Decius Institute of Culture since 2022. This undertaking includes the creation of cultural events that promote the cultural heritage of artists who cannot live and create safely and peacefully in their countries of origin. This year’s edition of the event is dedicated to the culture of Belarus. This is our response to the deepening crisis of democratic values and civil liberties in Belarus, as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine across our eastern border. This year, in a gesture of solidarity, we turn our attention to the culture of a country whose artists – as a result of war or political oppression – were forced to emigrate from their homeland to find a new place to live and do creative work. By organizing the festival “Culture in Exile. Days of Solidarity at Villa Decius,” we want to show that building a community is as much about heartfelt fellow-feeling as it is about being open to other voices and traditions, being curious about the culture of our neighbors – the New Cracovians, and being willing to learn something from them, as well as to learn something about themselves and, incidentally, about each of us.

Objectives of the project:

Villa Decius, for centuries, has been famous as a meeting place and a place of dialogue between different cultures and traditions, and has provided a safe space for artists and scientists seeking refuge from war or persecution in their countries of origin.

In realizing the “Culture in Exile” series of events, our goal was to create a space for transnational dialogue of cultures and traditions in Cracow, at Villa Decius. Our initiative is intended not only as an expression of support and solidarity with persecuted artists, but also as an attempt to learn about the culture of our neighbours in order to better understand and get to know the people who have become part of the Cracow community.

Another goal of the “Culture in Exile” initiative is to create a safe creative haven in Villa Decius for artists who have been forced to leave their home due to the difficult situation in their homeland. Therefore, during the project, in addition to cultural events such as concerts, author meetings and exhibitions, artistic residency programs are also implemented. Such initiatives allow artists, in a safe environment, to create, but also to meet with audiences and other artists, to build a network and a sense of community, and to protect and strengthen their cultural and linguistic identity.

What have we already realized?

Within the framework of this year’s edition of the “Culture in Exile” project, events such as:

  • Two-day series of events “Culture in Exile”, Solidarity Days at Villa Decius 03-04.06.2023
  • Concert of the Belarusian Ethno Choir as part of the Belarusian Picnic in Cracow, 29.07.2023
  • Artistic residency of Belarusian photographer Maria Elena Bonet at Villa Decius, August 2023

You can read about the details of these events in the tab of the respective event.

What’s still to come?

The “Culture in Exile” project will run until November 2023. The program of events still includes such initiatives as:

  • Presentation of copperplate prints by the young Belarusian artist Źmicier Shapovalov at Villa Decius, as well as the publication of a catalog presenting his work
  • Writer Uladzimir Arlov’s residency stay at Villa Decius
  • Author meeting with writers Nastassia Kudasava, Dmitry Strotsev and Artur Kamarouski

We will keep you posted on details of upcoming events.




Media Partneres:

Project coordination:

Aleksandra Szymańska-Niekłań
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