These cypresses and pomegranates, dogwood and quince, juniper and lavender have enchanted us at once and forever. When we arrived in Bakhchysarai for the first time, we realized that we wanted to hold a festival here. In 2011, this was made possible by the common efforts of ArtPole, the local administration, friends of the festival and supporters of the idea of embodying new tourist formats in Crimea.
ArtPole Crimea. East Gate
The stage was directly in front of it — in front of the gate of Chufut-Kale cave town. It was the most extreme of our festival locations, the incredibly beautiful and, at the same time, the incredibly difficult in terms organization. In addition, we decided to hold a festival in October, when the fruits ripen and the number of tourists in the peninsula decreases. However, there was no velvet season that year. A few days before the event the weather had completely gone bad. It was a bit dramatic because of the festival had offered future visitors “a tour of the city-garden, mosques, ancient cemeteries and fountains, visits to the Khan’s Palace, the medieval Zıncırli medrese (university), traditional Crimean Tatar cafés, tea and cheburek houses and big open-air music program after that”.
On October 15-16, although it was cold, the rain suddenly stopped, and a big rainbow loomed over Chufut-Kale. Everything has happened — a tour and master classes on making pottery, embroidery, jewelry, coffee, tea, oriental sweets and chebureks, folk dancing and playing traditional instruments, program of a big stage. It consisted of two parts — music of peoples of Crimea represented by Mustafa Kızıldeli, bands “Dzhesair” and “Maqam”, and an international world-music program represented by “Čankišou” (the Czech Republic), “Orkiestra Św. Mikołaja” (Poland), “Port Mone” (Belarus), as well as “DakhaBrakha” and “Zira” (Ukraine).
One of the most touching workshop in the history of the festival was held here — at the Ismail Gasprinsky’s Museum, a Crimean Tatar educator who founded the first Crimean Tatar newspaper (the last issue of ’Terciman’ was published on February 23, 1918, when the Bolsheviks occupied Crimea). Here the participants of ArtPole-fest discussed traditions, languages, religions, worldviews, resistance, revolutions, and played on a variety of musical instruments. It seemed like the house was remembering, hearing and trying to save the words and music. Once it had already hidden something important which opened for us that day. Then everybody walked around Bakhchysaray, drank tea and wine at Crimean Tatar café ’Musafir’ and did not want to disperse until the morning. Those who had already left Bakhchysaray, jumping from a narrow platform into the train to Kyiv, called and told that they had felt then as one large family — someone had had bread cooked in tandyr, someone had had grapes, and someone had had wine and cheese, and everyone had wanted to share.
Even before the festival started the land-artists had created their amazing objects enlivening the visual history of old Bakhchisarai. “In anticipation of the filling” were sculptures by Vitalii Kohan. Myroslav Vayda has created audio birdhouses on the old stone wall. Zhanna Kadyrova has “planted” author’s vegetable mushrooms in the local forest. Heliographity was a new genre to ArtPole but extremely relevant. Volodymyr Bakhtov, together with the interested public, “painted” the missing architectural objects, bizarre fiery forests, streams, and boats. The action was reminiscent of ritual dance, but the cameras have captured the completed fiery drawings.
From the East Gate of Chufut-Kale one could observe the sunset and sunrise, the sea in the distance, the numerous mountain ranges and the Ashlama-Dere valley, which means “where grafted trees grow” (direct translation from Crimean Tatar). This is the valley of the gardens where first Khan’s residence the Ashlam-Saray Palace was housed. “The grafting on old or wild trees in the forest is naturally for the Crimean Tatars, — Volodymyr Bakhtov explained. — The attempt to incorporate modern trends and methods in such a complex historical space as southwestern Crimea might be both unexpectedly fruitful and hopelessly adventurous. But the Crimean Tatars always carried tools for grafting trees and experimented endlessly”.
The festival that combined traditional and contemporary music, crafts and landart and, most importantly, people of different languages and religions had to be considered a successful vaccination. But the annexation of Crimea by Russia, which took place several years later, made it doubt. However, we continue to believe that our garden will grow.