The European Capital of Culture is a title awarded to one or more cities each year, with the intention of promoting different European cultures to the world. Initiated by the Greek Minister of Culture and artist Melina Mercouri, the scheme has so far been a great success, with more than 48 cities being nominated, including Liverpool in 2008.
The title has this year been awarded to Maribor, Slovenia. This second largest city of Slovenia, with 157,947 inhabitants as of 2011, was declared the ECOC by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament, and will host events throughout the year.
Not wanting to limit the celebrations to just one town, more than a thousand events will take place in Maribor and its five partner towns of Velenje, Murska Sobota, Slovenj Gradec, Novo Metso and Ptuji. So with more than half of Slovenia involved, there should be plenty to see and do.
The highlight of the opening weekend of Maribor’s reign as ECOC 2012 is the premiere of Marij Kogoj’s opera, Black Masks, at the Slovenia National Theatre on 14 January, with set design by Numen, costumes by Alan Hranitelj, and choreography by Edward Clug. It is regarded as one of the most demanding pieces in the Slovenian musical and theatrical repertoire.
Throughout the year, the Residencies Project will share reflections on Maribor’s recent history in a series of exhibitions connected by the creative interpretation of the socialist industry.
The exhibition Heroes We Love will showcase the high points of the former Eastern Bloc and Yugoslavia, while Creative Industries will display prominent productsfrom local industrial giants, such as Gorenje, TAM and Mura. The exhibitions will be enriched by a wide range of side events, including music from bands rooted in the former Yugoslavia.
This article was first published in fx Magazine.