Magdalena Ziółkowska


Excerpts taken from: From the museum on through
the gallery and to the loose pages of a catalogue
(and not the other way around)

The Museum's program therefore refers specifically to the world of its time by presenting a critique of the official cultural politics of the Polish People's Republic, exposing the inadequacy of the vocabulary developed by historians and art theorists and finally by introducing new terms into the domain of art historical categories concerning transformed areas of artistic practice.
In the program Ludwiński called the Museum 'a sensitive seismograph', 'a catalyst', 'a testing ground' and 'a melting pot' of new tendencies and attitudes. For him, it was supposed to grasp an artistic process and the consequent proposals in the exact moment of their coming into being. His concept for the Museum of Current Art directly targeted the organisation of artistic life, both on a micro and macro level.
On one hand, events usually located in provincial centres created an illusion of a variety of discourses and of their interdisciplinary character. On the other, they revealed a strong need for confrontation and discussion that proved the inefficiency of the cultural-political machine.
The project of the Museum was therefore created when the current model of artistic life had practically ceased to function and revealed the crisis: the lack of a centralized art system at the same time as an intensification of artistic activity and an inefficient media or art criticism.
Ludwiński's project was further characterised by the absence of a formalised and hierarchical organizational structure and the lack of an artistic orthodoxy. It offered scholars an on-going involvement in artistic reflection and a focus on information and documentation process, as well as an absolute openness to new art forms that provoked and accelerated the necessity of transforming the artistic institution according to changes in the field of art. This notion of the 'lack' of certain fixed positions and openness to artistic change is what makes Ludwiński’s concept still one of the most radical museum projects.
In the form given by Ludwiński, the Museum of Current Art turns out to be a 'space of discourse', geographically sovereign and independent in time, the structure of the six departments being its sole organisational tissue. The remaining parameters of the institution: a building, financial system and staff, were considered of secondary or almost no importance. Indeed, the Museum was no longer identified with ‘an institution‘ but as a proposal itself.
It is worth noticing that at the end of the 1960's and early 1970's the 'gallery' was not unambiguously identified with the sphere of economic capital as it is nowadays. In the specific socio-political conditions of that time, 'gallery' (understood as an 'institution') was often an institutional shelter for new artistic manifestations and it unveiled changes emerging from the field of art being initiated by artists themselves. In the case of the "plebiscitary exhibition", Ludwiński positioned the 'gallery' in the sphere of reflection and legitimisation connected with the symbolic capital ascribed to the institution of a museum.
The program of the Museum of Current Art is not a manual, a score to be played, a recipe for a museum that, if followed carefully, will result in an impressive modern institution. Instead, the text is deliberately ambivalent, and it is a trap to read it as directly descriptive. Seen in this way, the Museum of Current Art turns out to be rather a mental 'space of potentiality', a 'proposition of possibility', a space and a subject of experiment, the physical parameters of which have been reduced radically to almost zero.