Brave Festival
Brave Against Cultural Exile Festival 2015, July 10 - 17
By Nathan Ardaiz
Published Jul 2015
Nearly every child in the Lower Silesian region of Poland visits Wrocław once in their early lives (pronounced: [vrotzwav]). The field trip is often headlined by the Panorama Racławicka - an indoor mural depicting the 1794 Battle of Racławice (Not surprisingly, a Polish victory Russia). The Panorama and the obligatory childhood experience in Wrocław is an indication of the ritual and ceremony that has proliferated in the Polish cultural landscape; particularly in a city where it is nearly impossible to stay for a period of time and not be exposed to a wartime reenactment. Despite this tendency, there are movements in this humble, central European city indicative of the young artists and performers that have made Wrocław one of two cities appointed the 2016 Cultural Capital of Europe. Perhaps no movement is more brilliant than Brave Festival. Brave Against Cultural Exile, now in its 11th year, is an exhibition of cultures forgotten - a stage for those rituals, works of art, and ways of life that have been deemed superfluous by the advancement of “Western Progress.” The festival is an ode to those who have chosen to guide culture, not be swept up in a tide of complacency and compliance; that’s why they are brave. The ceremony that ensues speaks to that courage and audacity. Also, brave because many of the performance groups - including performers from Gambia for this years edition - are leaving their towns and villages for the first time. They have traveled great distances to present their perspective to a country that has professed to be 94% Catholic, and whose main immigrant base comes from equally christian traditions: Germany, Ukraine and Russia. 2015’s theme, Griot, is emblematic of the meaning and purpose that the festival lives. Griot - a traditional storyteller from West Africa - is a responsibility and art that has been deemed redundant and unnecessary by many in the era of infinite information. A profession that advises rulers and leaders, preserves and passes on history, and is present in all rituals of society should perhaps be valued now more than ever in worlds deemed “developed.” Griots and Brave Festival, like the embalming of an ideological figure like Mao Zedong, are monuments and reminders of beliefs and traditions that appear to be on their way out. They are an extravagant and artistic embodiment of a way of life, all meant to remind and educate its viewers of a culture to be preserved. For more on the Brave festival, visit