Friday, January 25, 2008

Post-communist public space

Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw calls for video/photodocumentation of artistic projects referring to post-communist publicspaces.
Selection of the documentation will be presented in Zacheta gallery spacein relation to the public art project organized between March and December 2008 in Warsaw
Please send inquiries or submissions to:
Joanna Sokolowska
Zacheta National Gallery of Art
Pl. Malachowskiego 300-916 Warsaw
Description of the project:
The dominant mode of production in cities is undergoing a fundamentalchange. From places of manufacturing and commerce, cities are becomingplaces whose focus is services and leisure, and creativity thus becomes amajor element in the production of wealth. This transformation goes handin hand with a destabilisation of hierarchies (those through which we makecategorise and make sense of knowledge, society, art, etc.) and aloosening up of social spaces, but at the same time makes them vulnerableto new types of appropriation and control. In the post-communist cities,this transformation is particularly striking. For these cities haverapidly moved away from a socialist modernity, which is often cast as amistaken or unfulfilled modernity, towards new social formations for whichadequate models, whether political or academic, have yet to be found. Weseem to be stuck between a past we can neither be rid of nor understand(much though some would want to cleanse it) and a West we can never be (much though some would want to embrace it).
The multifaceted post-communist urban structure is characterised bysimultaneous mutual interaction of many processes of apparentlycontradictory logic: of shutting and opening. The politics of symbolic memory, the representation of power, a narrow definition of national andreligious values function at the same time as the opening of the city tothe flows of capital and economy based on knowledge and culture. The processes of opening and liberalization are accompanied by the emergenceof new regimes of surveillance, borders, exclusions (e.g. particular typesof migration, trade and leisure are actively encouraged, while others aremade illegal).What everyday strategies do the inhabitants of a city like Warsaw developto deal with the new configuration of possibilities and prohibitions, ofliberation and control? What are their expectations or memories; and whatare they unwilling or unable to see? The challenge of this project is to ask ’ÄúWhat, under such circumstances,can artists tell us about Warsaw or how can they impact in the publicspace of this city?’Äù For artists are not innocent in the processesunderway. Even as they attempt to critique and explore, their successesmake them spokespeople for the new economy: creation is capital. But perhaps it is only art that is supple enough to uncover the paradoxes andundiscovereds of the way in which the everyday life of Warsaw is now changing. It would be nice to think that art is not fatally compromised,but that it is possible for art to exploit the uncertainty of its positionin the processes of production, to turn attention away from a productionof status towards an intervention and experimentation with space, perhapsan epistemology of space, that could enable the production of thespecificity of spaces themselves, exploring and extending perhaps thetheoretical challenge set out by Henri Lefˆ®vbre in his book The Production of Space. The above text is a proposition or challenge to which we will invite arange of artists from Poland and other Eastern European countries, to makeinterventions in the space of Warsaw. These interventions will then bedocumented in the Maly Salon space of Zacheta gallery, less in the form ofan exhibition than in the form of a multi-lateral documentation of a workin progress: what can art tell us about contemporary Warsaw? How much of what it is undergoing is a unique local story, and how much simply aparticular example of wider global or regional processes? The documentation of artworks will be accompanied by archival informationabout interventions in the public space of different post-communist citiesand academic texts dealing with this topic published in a blog.
Joanna Sokolowska and Benjamin Cope

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