European Capital of Culture: Remix in Esch 2022 | Culture | Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 13.01.2022

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European Capital of Culture: Remix in Esch 2022

The second largest city in the tiny country of Luxembourg is one of the 2022 European Capitals of Culture. Esch-sur-Alzette has only 36,000 inhabitants. Despite COVID, the town has a full program.

Fireworks and illuminated building with a crowd at night Esch-sur-Alezette.

Remix in Esch 2022

"Let's get our region moving!" is one of the 160 projects launched in Esch-sur-Alzette and 17 other municipalities in Luxembourg and neighboring France for the year-long Capital of Culture status. The move challenge: People are invited to send their best dance moves to the makers of "Esch2022" via Instagram or TikTok. The snippets will be assembled in a video for the "Remix Festival."

An orchestra in the streets in Esch-sur-Alzette, with people dressed in yellow t-shirts.

The Harmonie de Soleuvre orchestra is part of the celebration

"A new mix, a remix" is the motto for the entire Capital of Culture program, says the general director of Esch2022, Nancy Braun. "Based on the motto 'Remix culture', the familiar is linked with the unknown, high culture with everyday culture," Braun told DW, adding that the idea was to create an opportunity for different ideas to be brought together to create something new." Citizens are invited to participate in the mission as project partners, but also as volunteers, she said, with the key message being "join in, actively shape the future of the region and have fun."

Mix and remix

Remix Nature. Remix Art. Remix Europe. Remix yourself — those are the four major projects in theater, dance, music and performance.

It's all about the future of the region, intended to be sustainable, not just for the Capital of Culture year, from digital art in the newly renovated former industrial "Müllerei" plant to down-to-earth beer culture and brass music by the Harmonie de Soleuvre orchestra. The European Capital of Culture Year is not an art biennial, but neither is it just a big fair, according to Braun — it is a comprehensive program with "something for everyone."

Nancy Braun, general director of Esch2022, Esch sur Alzette.

There is "something for everyone", says Nancy Braun, Esch2022 director general

After all, people from 122 nations live in Esch-sur-Alzette and the country's southern border region. The former coal and steel district was forced to reinvent itself — also a kind of steady remix — all the while intent on keeping its distance from the capital of Luxembourg. But Esch never was provincial, said Nancy Braun. "Esch is more down-to-earth and less chic, but also more progressive and experimental."

A mix of languages and cultures

People in Esch-sur-Alzette are proud of the "mix." Many migrants moved to the Grand Duchy from Portugal and Italy, and thousands of French people, Belgians and Germans commute to Luxembourg for work every day, making the town multilingual. Languages spoken include Luxembourgish, German, French, Portuguese and Italian. The cultural exchange is reflected in the "Idiomatic" theater project — five actors try to converse in five languages. It is serious, funny and at times absurd, a wild mix.

A tongue stuck through a hole in the wall.

"Idiomatic" celebrates multilinguialism

The town also plans a lively exchange with the two other Capitals of Culture 2022, Kaunas in Lithuania and Novi Sad in Serbia. About a third of the projects in Esch have links to Kaunas and Novi Sad. All three cities are united by the fact that they are the second largest in their respective countries and want to use culture to step out of the shadow of their capitals.

'People want to get out'

Braun and her team spent four years preparing the Remix in Esch. They learned how to organize projects, performances and happenings while taking into account coronavirus restrictions, Braun says. "We have fortunately reached the point where we don't have to do everything digitally," she says, adding that people really want to get out, join in and experience things for themselves.

To be on the safe side, the big Remix opening festival is scheduled for February 26 rather than early January. Organizers hope that by then, the coronavirus omicron variant might be on a downward trend in Luxembourg — and the weather a bit warmer.

This story was orginally written in German.