Polish Female Curators’ Questionnaire Martha Kirszenbaum, Magdalena Moskalewicz, Aneta Rostkowska

In the late 19th and early 20th century, one of the most popular forms of entertainment among European elites and noblemen was answering the questions of the Proust Questionnaire. This peculiar parlour game became particularly favoured thanks to Marcel Proust – the famous French writer who is believed to have answered these questions twice! The questionnaire itself consisted of several questions which were meant to elicit answers that showed the real personality traits of a responder. This idea inspired me and I decided to play the same game with the representatives of contemporary artistic society. I compiled a questionnaire and invited young female curators to square up to it.

Aneta Rostkowska, photo:. Felix Norberg

Aneta Rostkowska, photo:. Felix Norberg

Aneta Rostkowska

  • The main characteristic of a good curator is… There are lots of them! What comes first, however, is being attentive, both when it comes to senses and intellect. I would also mention mental independence and modesty.
  • I became a curator of art because… I love the diversity which comes with this job. One day you participate in a serious discussion at the meeting of a reading group you established, while on the next day you hold an audition for a belly dancer whom you need for a performance 😉
  • In art I seek… It will sound like a cliché, but I really strive to find passion or emotional and intellectual intensity, which opens to us the realms we would never expect existed.
  • The woman who most inspires me is… Ekaterina Degot with whom I was lucky to cooperate at Akademie der Künste der Welt in Cologne. She pursues really creative, intellectually developed and precise curatorial activities.
  • The most important exhibition… The exhibition of works by Robert Kuśmirowski which was organized many years ago in Bunkier Sztuki Gallery in Krakow. Presenting the collection of Robert Kuśmirowski together with the collection of the Sosenko family made a huge impression on me and proved to me that rational process of collecting artworks can sometimes turn into equally intriguing frenzy. It really is a pity that the City of Krakow will likely destroy Bunkier Sztuki.
  • The word I use too much in my curatorial works is… Unfortunately it is the word ‘project’, i.e. an element of neoliberal lexicon that stormed into the world of art. It is time for a revolution in language (and not only!) and replacing this word with another one. But what word would that be?
  • Polish contemporary art is… For me it is the constant point of reference.
  • Where I would like to be in a few years… I would love to continue to be the head of the Temporary Gallery Center for Contemporary Art in Cologne. But surely I would like to have a bigger budget and a larger team.
  • The work of art most important for me is… I could list a lot of them… Recently I have been fascinated with works by Hungarian collective of Igor and Ivan Bucharov, which I saw at Steirischer Herbst festival in Graz. In these works you can see unrestrained imagination combined with poetic touches and political references.
  • My favourite activity is… It is difficult to choose between lying on a couch with a book and cooking plus gardening. I try not to let my work occupy all my time, especially because going beyond the field of art sometimes brings about more interesting ideas to be used in my professional activity as a curator.
  • Who would you like to be if you weren’t who you are… A performance artist. Maybe now I am a bit of a performance artist when I engage in gonzo activities 😉
  • When I was little, I dreamed of… Being a fashion designer.
  • The most groundbreaking work of art in my life is… “The Massacre of the Innocents” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder which I saw a few years ago in Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. This was a striking experience which made me even more interested in art.

Aneta Rostkowska is a curator, researcher and writer, a graduate of de Appel Curatorial Programme in Amsterdam. Together with Jakub Woynarowski, she developed the concept of ‘gonzo curating’, a creative practice conceived as a process of appropriation of any phenomena by means of constructing a semi-fictional narrative around it. An example of ‚gonzo curating’ is a fictitious institution they founded, Wawel Castle Centre of Contemporary Art. Rostkowska studied philosophy, economics and art history in Kraków, Poznań, Heidelberg and Frankfurt am Main. From 2005 to 2016 she taught art theory, art history, philosophy and logic at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków and Art Academy of Szczecin. From 2011 to 2016 she worked as a curator at Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Kraków. In 2013, together with Martyna Niedośpiał, she edited a book on the interrelations between art, activism and ecology based on the works of Kraków’s artist Cecylia Malik. In 2014 she received a Young Poland scholarship of Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. In 2015, together with Virginija Januškevičiūtė, she curated A Million Lines, an exhibition based on a short story of China Miéville, a part of XII Baltic Triennale, accompanied by a Polish translation of Kristupas Sabolius’ book Proteus and the Radical Imaginary. Since 2016 Rostkowska is working at the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne. In January 2019 she became director of Centre for Contemporary Art Temporary Gallery in Cologne.

Magdalena Moskalewicz, photo: by Helen Malesk

Magdalena Moskalewicz

  • The main characteristic of a good curator is… openness to the unexpected. Both in her collaboration with the artists and the public.
  • I became a curator of art because…the library wasn’t enough.
  • In art I seek… communication. Social engagement. Alternative models for addressing the past and new formats for constructing the present.
  • The woman who most inspires me is… There are a few women curators and scholars I look up to. Edit Andras, Zdenka Badovinac, Bojana Pejić.
  • The most important exhibition… Singling out just one is difficult. Bojana Pejić’s “Gender Check: Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe“ (2009) was a breakthrough show, and I still use the exhibition’s catalogue and reader in my teaching. More recently, Germano Celant’s restaging of “When Attitudes Become Form” at Fondazione Prada in Venice (2013) struck me as a remarkable combination of detailed archival research married to complete creative madness
  • The word I use too much in my curatorial works is… let’s see.
  • Polish contemporary art is… a bit too focused on itself.
  • Where I would like to be in a few years… Chicago is the place. I love teaching at the School of the Art Institute.
  • The work of art most important for me is… I am debating between Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s “Apollo and Daphne,” Caravaggio’s “Conversion of St. Paul,” and Maria Callas’ performance of the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”
  • My favourite activity is… commissioning and editing other people’s writing. It’s not as stressful as writing your own, and equally satisfying.
  • Who would you like to be if you weren’t who you are… a political philosopher. A cultural diplomat. A food critic.
  • When I was little, I dreamed of… being a writer
  • The most groundbreaking work of art in my life is… Recently, I was amazed by Kaj Osteroth & Lydia Hamann’s collectively authored paintings from the “Radical Admiration” series. I shared my excitement in the catalogue of the 10th Berlin Biennale.

Magdalena Moskalewicz is an art historian, curator and editor based in Chicago who critically investigates local (art) histories and cultural representations of identities in order to reshape dominant historical narratives. In both her scholarly and curatorial work, Moskalewicz focuses on art from (the former) Eastern Europe. While she researches the 1950s, 60s and 70s — she published on postwar abstraction, the network of Eastern European neo-avant-gardens, and circulation of Polish modern art during the Cold War — her curatorial projects engage in collaborations with living artists, examining the postsocialist condition together with its parallels with postcoloniality. She curated, among others Halka/Haiti 18°48’05″N 72°23’01″W for the Polish Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015, with artists C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska) and The Travellers: Voyage and Migration in New Art from Central and Eastern Europe (2016-18), both accompanied by books. Her curatorial projects were shown in cities in Europe, United States and the Caribbean.

Moskalewicz holds a PhD from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań; she was Kosciuszko Foundation visiting scholar at Barnard College, Columbia University and Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. She currently teaches curatorial / museum studies as well as history of modern and contemporary art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Martha Kirszenbaum © Alexandre Guirkinger

Martha Kirszenbaum © Alexandre Guirkinger

Martha Kirszenbaum

  • The word I use too much in my curatorial works is… Blue. Deep See Blue Surrounding You is the title of our project with Laure Prouvost for the French Pavilion of the Venice Biennale // Robbie Basho, Blue Crystal Fire, 1978 //
  • Polish contemporary art is… Run by girls! The most inspiring artists, curators, writers, museum directors and gallerists are women: Katarzyna K., Agnieszka P., Anna O., Natalia S, Anna T, Joanna M., Marta K., // Beyonce, Who Run The World (Girls), 2011 //
  • The work of art most important for me is… My collaboration with Laure Prouvost, which started in the purple sunsets of Downtown LA.  Swimming all the way to the deep waters of the Venetian laguna. // Frank Ocean, Swim Good, 2011 //
  • Who would you like to be if you weren’t who you are… Iranian singer and diva Googoosh for her inimitable grace and energy // Googoosh, Pishkeh, 1977 //
  • When I was little, I dreamed of… Becoming a superstar. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s still my favourite Karaoke song // The Carpenters, Superstar, 1985 //

Martha Kirszenbaum (b. 1983, Vitry-sur-Seine, France) is a curator and writer based in Paris and Los Angeles. She graduated from Sciences-Po in Paris and Columbia University in New York with an M.A. in Political History and Cultural Studies. Kirszenbaum is the Curator of the French Pavilion of the 58th Venice Biennale represented by Laure Prouvost. She founded and directed Fahrenheit, an exhibition space and residency program in Los Angeles (2014-17). Previously she acted as the Associate Curator at the Kunsthalle Mulhouse (2014) and as Curator-in-Residence at the Belvedere Museum/21er Haus in Vienna (2012) and at the Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw (2010). She also worked at the New Museum in New York (2008-10), the Photography Department of Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2007) and the Media Department of MoMA in New York (2006-07).Kirszenbaum has organized exhibitions, screenings, performances and talks at renowned international institutions such as the ICA in London, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo, Kunstall Stavanger, Beirut Art Center, Fondation Ricard in Paris, 221A in Vancouver, Kadist in Paris / San Francisco, Pejman Foundation in Tehran, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Marrakech Biennale, Istanbul Biennale, and the Austrian Cultural Forum NY. She is a regular contributor to Flash Art, Mousse, CURA and Kaleidoscope among other publications, and has led seminars at UCLA, Université Paris VIII, Parsons in Paris and UCLA. She was on the jury for the Estonian Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale, the Zoom Art Award, the Art Award of the City of Marseille and the Jan Van Eyck Academy. She serves on the selection committee of Art Brussels.

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