The city of Krakow has welcomed a new ICORN resident, the Angolan poet, mixed media artist, and activist Aaiún Nin. Nin’s two year residency is made possible by a collaboration between the city of Krakow, the Villa Decius Institute for Culture – which runs the residency program and provides a place for creative work and support for writers – and the Krakow Festival Office, the operator of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature program.
Through her artistic work, Nin explores and confronts issues of race and sex discrimination, as well as LGBT+ experience. Her poetry draws upon the experience of childhood and youth spent in a traditional, patriarchal community and is strongly rooted in the context of postcolonial Africa. While living in Denmark for several years, she worked in collaboration with artists identifying with queer culture and has been an outspoken voice regarding the legal discrimination of immigrants and police violence in Scandinavian countries. Her articles and poems have been published in Friktion Magasin, Kritiker, and Klimaaksjonen (Norwegian Writers’ Climate Campaign – NWCC). Nin has performed her poetry at numerous literary festivals, such as the Sound + Literature in Aarhus and the Oslo International Poetry Festival.
“We are glad that at this difficult moment we can host in Krakow a writer, poet, and activist who is truly committed to the issues of equality and who speaks out against systemic discrimination against women and racism,” says Izabela Błaszczyk, Director of the Krakow Festival Office, operator of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature program. “We are welcoming one of Angola’s most interesting contemporary poets, who speaks six languages, whose work is highly appreciated by PEN International, and who, living and writing in Krakow, has the chance to become part of our local literary life and to energize it with new interesting texts, translations, and publications.”
The city of Krakow has been a trailblazer in the region for the defense of free expression since it joined ICORN in 2011. At that time, ICORN Executive Director Helge Lunde pointed out that because of the cultural tradition, the rich artistic and literary life, Krakow would be an excellent city of shelter and creative inspiration for persecuted writers. “In today’s Poland, Helge Lunde updates, the cities are playing an important role in their fight for freedom, solidarity and equality, values that are coming under pressure by increasingly oppressive policies from the national government.” Following Krakow’s example, Wroclaw joined as ICORN member in 2015, Gdansk in 2017, and Katowice in 2019. They serve as exemplary models, not only in Poland, but throughout today’s world, how cities can, and indeed should, be decisive actors for human rights and freedom of expression.
“This year marks 10 years since Krakow joined the ICORN network. We are proud that the impulse for this has come from Villa Decius, which has served as a venue for international meetings for years,” says Professor Dominika Kasprowicz, Director of Villa Decius Institute for Culture. “Since then, we have also succeeded in persuading other Polish cities to join the network, and we are happy to share our experience in the implementation of this demanding residence program in Krakow with them. Aaiún Nin is our ninth resident, a talented, courageous, and inquisitive woman".
Before Nin, Krakow has hosted eight writers within the ICORN residency program:
Maria Amelie (North Ossetia), Kareem Amer (Egypt), Mostafa Zamaninija (Iran), Lawon Barszczewski (Belarus), Asli Erdoğan (Turkey), Felix Kaputu (Congo), Monem Mahjoub (Libya), and Kholoud Charaf (Syria).
To read more about Krakow’s residency program and other initiatives for free expression, visit this page. To read more about Aaiún Nin, head to her profile.