A joint edition by Kaunas 2022 and Esch2022, European Capitals of Culture 2022. On 26 February, the city of Esch-sur-Alzette, which shares the title of European Capital of Culture 2022 with 10 municipalities in Luxembourg and 8 municipalities in France, officially launched Esch2022. The Lithuanian town Kaunas, also European Capital of Culture this year, staged its opening ceremony at the end of January.
Since 2007, the European Union has been naming two Capitals of Culture every year, the first chosen among the EU’s historic member states, the second from the more recent member states that joined the union during its enlargements in 2004 and 2007. This measure was introduced to speed up the integration of new members into the programme. Since that time, it has also been possible for cities in countries that are (potential) candidates for membership in the EU to become European Capital of Culture, such as Novi Sad, Serbia, in 2022.
Esch-sur-Alzette and Kaunas are both the second largest cities in their country. The organisers of both projects were keen to involve the public at large and lay the groundwork for the future of Europe. While Esch2022 has chosen the theme ‘Remix’, Kaunas’s motto ‘From Temporary to Contemporary’ reflects its own history over the course of the 20th century. Numerous festivals, exhibitions, concerts and other events are dedicated to commemorating events that took place in the interwar period, during the Second World War and during Soviet occupation. Esch2022 and Kaunas are also planning joint projects in which Novi Sad has been invited to participate, including the creation of a jazz musical and the production of a monumental graffiti work.
The Lithuanian motif features a work by the artist Stasys Ušinskas (1905–1974), the ‘father of Lithuanian stained glass’, while the artwork on the Luxembourgish stamp is by the artist Foni Tissen (1909–1975), a native of Rumelange, whose work is also presented as part of Esch2022. Foni Tissen and Stasys Ušinskas were not only contemporaries, but also studied art in Paris at around the same time in the 1930s, albeit in different academies, the former at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, the latter at the Académie moderne.