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Wrocław in the City of Lem. The beginning of an international seminar

On September 13, the City of Lem Festival started in Lviv, organised by the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016 in collaboration with the Faculty of Philology of the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv and the Publishers’ Forum, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the writer’s death. It is worth noting that the inauguration of the scientific session during the festival coincided with the end of the “Leminarium” – a visual arts review, presenting works inspired by the writer’s works.

According to Irek Grin, ECoC curator for literature and readership, the City of Lem festival is a unique undertaking, crowning the efforts of Grzegorz Gauden, former director of the Book Institute, and the team of the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016, as he said during the press conference opening the festival. “We want Lem to become a part of Lviv”, he added. Iryna Starovoyt, the seminar leader, emphasised the great significance of her home city in Lem’s creations and announced that the “City of Lem” Festival will be organised in Lviv every two years. 

The inauguration lecture was given by Prof. Stanisław Bereś from Wrocław – an expert on Lem’s writings and author of the extended interview with the artists, titled Tako rzecze Lem / Thus Spake Lem. Professor Bereś talked primarily about two “anti-crime” novels by Lem – The Investigation and The Chain of Chance – which on the one hand play with the codified principles of the genre, and on the other, they are a literary image of the “unique adventure, that is catching the chance by hand”, and express Lem’s admiration of stochastics and its role as a key to science.

The first day of the “City of Lem” brought many interesting remarks. Dejan Ajdacic from Kiev devoted his lecture to the futuristic visions of the human body and humanoid machines. Svitłana Matvyienko from Toronto focused on the subject of cybernetic communication, recalling Lem, who returned to works on interplanetary communication and perceived humans as part of the complicated nature.  The lecture by Oleh Romanchuk from the University of Lviv, devoted to Lem’s theories on artificial intelligence prompted many questions and comments. The author stated that striving for creating artificial intelligence presents many deep moral consequences, to which Lem devoted a significant part of his works. The last lecture of the first panel was presented by Maciej Płaza from Poznań, who talked about the inspirations Stanisław Lem drew from cartography as a metaphor for science.

The key part of the first day of the seminar was the afternoon discussion titled “Lem and Lviv. A meeting after separation”, featuring Wojciech Zemek, Lem’s secretary, Irek Grin, Andrij Pawłyszyn, a translator and journalist, writers: Marianna Kijanowska and Viktoria Amelina, as well as Bohdan Shumylovych. Andrij Pavlyshyn started the discussion by talking about Lem’s painful inability to return to his home city after the war and the growing popularity of the writer in the city where he finally reaches his deserved position. Irek Grin referred to the context of Polish-Jewish relations in the pre-war Poland, as well as the Holocaust, which played an important role in Lem’s art, and from which the writer constantly ran away after the war. Wojciech Zemek confirmed that over the course of the ten years, during which he worked as the writer’s secretary, the subject of the Shoah did not appear once; however, Lem often remembered Lviv and emphasised that he’s not from Krakow, but from Lviv, and that he left his heart in that city. Marianna Kijanowska and Viktoria Amelina talked about the images of Lviv which appeared in the works of Polish writer, and partially shaped their perception of the city.

On Wednesday, September 14, apart from lectures, a world premiere of The Author of Solaris by Borys Lankosz, and the discussion with Lankosz and Wojciech Orliński – the film’s screenwriter. On Thursday, come to Dzyga for two literary meetings, dedicated to the book premieres in the ECoC Publishing Series: Nielegalny prąd / Illegal Current – a Polish-Ukrainian anthology of poetry from Wrocław, selected by Jacek Bierut and Droga nie ma końca. Antologia bajki polskiej / The Road Without End. An Anthology of Polish Fairytales/ selected by Wojciech Bonowicz.

[Photo by: Myroslav Parkhomyk]

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Seminarium poświęcone twórczości Lema Seminarium (3) Seminarium (4) Seminarium (5) Seminarium (6) Seminarium (7) Seminarium (8) Seminarium (1) Seminarium (2)

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