Being neighbours is arguably one of the most immediate relationships to connect people and countries. After all, geographical facts are incontrovertible, and thus a common border makes dealing with each other inevitable, even if this should merely consist in deliberately ignoring the other - neighbours are close to one another and cannot seriously deny that.
This is also true for Germany and Poland, both of which not only border on the Oder river, but also have a history that cannot be brushed aside in present interactions. Reservations are undeniably there, but so is an interest in the neighbour, even if reservations and interest are perhaps not evenly distributed across both sides of the border. Some place emphasis on how splendidly the relationship of the two countries is developing at the beginning of the new millennium, others regard it with concern and see it as problematic. Either view is presumably too blanket to capture the day-to-day interactions between Germans and Poles.
The best illustrative material for this is to be found in the field of culture - not only in the capitals, but also along the branch lines off the Berlin-Warszawa-Express. Without international understanding as a declared objective, German and Polish artists and art professionals found common ground in the metropolises and the hinterland. Be it because they are interested in the same topics, be it because they are interested in one another. Their work yielded results and insights, but at times also amazement and irritations. This was invariably an open process, one that Büro Kopernikus seeks to initiate and to facilitate, but never to direct.
Büro Kopernikus' work, then, was about setting things in motion. And about bringing together people who may not have known each other in advance, but who will collaborate far beyond Büro Kopernikus' lifespan. The issues and questions addressed by the participating artists and art professionals are contemporary in the sense that, besides reflecting on the past, they always attempted a glance into the future - utopian ideas take centre stage in several projects.
www.buero-kopernikus.org (external link, opens in a new window)
Texts, projects and materials about the German-Polish cultural exchange 2004-2006
The web magazine BüroKopernican Turn features texts, materials and project information about the 22 Büro Kopernikus cultural exchange projects which took place between 2004 and 2006. The articles are arranged by theme and available in German, Polish and English versions. In addition to project-related texts and an artist databank, the online magazine also commissions writers to report on special issues pertaining to Büro Kopernikus.
Artistic Director: Stefanie Peter
Managing Director: Bärbel Schürrle
Project Coordinator: Isabel Raabe
Contact: relations - Verein zur Förderung des Kulturaustausches
im Westen und Osten Europas, Berlin
Dr. Lutz Nitsche
German Federal Cultural Foundation