Karol Sienkiewicz

Excerpts taken from: CSW – What's Next, in: Dwutygodnik,
nr. 18, 2009

Twenty years is like an era. We have been enjoying the III Republic of Poland for so many years. And for so many years Wojciech Krukowski has been a director of Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle (…)
It was always like that. Krukowski outlasted over a dozen of ministers of culture. Rumours about his retirement have been around for a certain period of time. The more often they appeared, the less they believed in them. However, it happened. In the beginning of November, in the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, Wojciech Krukowski announced his retirement. "We should not get into a rut, and the dynamics of a young generation is impressive" - said Krukowski in an interview with Agnieszka Kowalska. Who will take the director's office? In this interview Krukowski says that the minister is looking for a suitable candidate. How come the minister?! - surprise was accompanied by indignation.
People write letters (…)
As the first one to take the floor was an enterprising group that called into being the Civic Forum of Contemporary Art. The letter addressed to minister Zdrojewski, demanding an international competition for the office of the director of CSW, was signed by Anda Rottenberg, Joanna Mytkowska, Piotr Piotrowski, Mirosław Bałka, Paweł Althamer, Artur Żmijewski and even Wojciech Krukowski among others.
Directors of the most important Polish museums, gallery workers and artists clearly opt for using democratic procedures when appointing people who are supposed to direct institutions of culture. The group suggests not only announcing an international competition for the office of the director of CSW, but also creating a board of trustees, which would "supervise the competitive procedure and, in the future, a substantial and financial side of the institution". The Forum aspires to become a voice of the environment and a partner in the discussions with politicians. The founding meeting will take place on the 1st of December 2009 in the National Museum in Warsaw.
Also the Board of Curators of CSW, composed of Ewa Gorządek, Adam Mazur, Paweł Polit, Łukasz Ronduda and Milada Ślizińska among others, submitted an open letter to the minister. Recently, their projects and exhibitions determined the programme policy of CSW. Refering to the idea of a dialogue, which accompanied the Polish Culture Congress, they write to the minister about the need of raising the standards of work in the culture sector, increasing transparency of decision-making processes. As a result, the model of culture would by more open and democratic”.
The situation in Cracow is even less transparent. In the former Schindler's Factory, the Museum of Contemporary Art is coming into being, and in the Bunkier Sztuki, the office of a director, previously occupied by Maria Anna Potocka, is now vacated. She was appointed to a post of a director of the Museum of Contemporary Art without any consultation by the city mayor Jacek Majchrowski. In both cases, artists and curators demand a competition for the office of the director in their open letter.
Will letters produce any effect? Effectiveness of new petitions and open letters, which are usually signed online, is ironically commented by the last project of Oskar Dawicki ("Lista"). As Rastrowcy write on their blog, an artist collects signatures from everyone who wants to sign – the list is considered to be a roster open in time, it does not serve any temporary purpose, it does not express support or opposition to any issue or idea (besides the artist's idea of collecting signatures). The race goes on.
Without competitions
Not all of current directors of institutions of culture were appointed as a result of the competition. Joanna Mytkowska was appointed by the minister in a critical moment, when the previous administration of the Museum of Modern Art tendered its resignation. Mytkowska was able to give a kind of unusual dynamics to the Warsaw's Museum. In the MSN's temporary abode, the most important exhibitions of the last year took place, for example Alina Szapocznikow's exhibition among others. The last project of the Museum (Warsaw under Construction) stimulated the local community, asking questions about the future look of the capital. But the success of the museum, located in the former warehouse of the furniture store, is first of all attendance success. A young institution attracts crowds, not only professionals. It is hard to find a seat during lectures and seminars.
Piotr Piotrowski became a director of the National Museum in Warsaw after an unsatisfactory result of the competition announced by the Ministry. Well respected professor, an author of important books such as The Meanings of Modenism or Avant-garde in the Shadow of Yalta, by many was considered the last resort for a wen, which is in debt and without any vision for the future. The lingering institution for years has been associated with archaic methods of work, dusty collection and punishing look of ladies who keep an eye on exhibitions. Even though the MNW building is located in the city centre, you can have an impression that it turned its back on the inhabitants, who are not willing to visit it. Piotrowski brought hope with him that he will enliven old walls.