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Theme Essay: Culture
The essay conveys the team’s idea of the event. It is usually published together with the Theme announcement and offers a starting point for the contributing photographers.
by Boštjan Burger
“Everything started in Greece…” said the spokesman at the opening ceremony of the European Capital of Culture 2012 in Maribor, Slovenia. There was a short silence in the audience then the spokesman continued “…and thanks to Melina Mercouri, former actress and Greece’s Minister of Culture, who got with her French counterpart, Jack Lang, in 1985 and formulated the idea of cultural capitals by designating an annual Capital of Culture to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures.” In 2012 the Capitals of Culture are Guimarães, Portugal and Maribor, Slovenia.
But culture didn’t start in Greece, it has existed since the start of human society. Culture is the product of the relationship among the people of an extended group, how they treat each other and themselves. How polite they are or how merciless they can be. As much as human societies are varied around Gaia so are the various cultures and culture is changing with time, faster in some societies slower in others. Street photography can very quickly capture what kind of culture is in certain geographic area, but is that true? Not very much anymore. Now we can find people wearing Nike or Adidas shoes or T-shirts everywhere, even in tropical forests on the equator or in the deserts of Arabia. Yes, globalization is hiding the street culture and making it uniform. It is the same way with food. The way we prepare and consume food is also a part of our culture and that, too, is being changed by globalization.
Confused, about my not mentioning art, museums, rock concerts, the classics, libraries, architecture, heritage, or cemeteries? The way we treat and respect our ancestors is a big part of the world’s culture too. Culture has many different meanings, so feel free with your interpretation of it. Try finding the lost cultures in your area or find the same global culture across different geographical locations. This is a year-long event and you have a opportunity to find 4 “cultures” and present them to the world. Culture is in your hands — panography is a part of culture too.