In Poznań, a city located half-way between Berlin and Warsaw, the first edition of Poznań Art Week has just come to an end. The event was initiated by the largest art academy in Poland – the University of the Arts Poznań (UAP). The leitmotif of this year’s edition, “Retouch,” was a provocative yet a necessary call for a discussion on culture and its influence on the lebenswelt, art circles and people’s strategies of functioning in the city life. In October last year, UAP, together with the City of Poznań opened five galleries in the city centre – Municipal City Galleries of the University of the Arts (the galleries are located in the main streets, they have glazed shop windows, and the entrance is free of charge). The aim of these five galleries, along with the other couple of dozens smaller and larger institutional and private galleries taking part in Poznań Art Week, is to initiate an actual transformation of the urban fabric and the change in the local perception of the role of culture. The diversity of phenomena, their quantity and transitional nature, the enthusiasm of the gallery managers, the accessibility and the openness of the galleries have turned out to be vital categories of presenting and receiving art – especially if we bear in mind that there are no large museum institutions in Poznań which would establish a narration for contemporary art. The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor published by the European Commission and dealing with issues such as cultural infrastructure, social development, economic growth or employment opportunities, has ranked Poznań highest among all the Polish cities. A similar situation can be noticed in the UK where centres such as Edinburgh, Norwich or Nottingham surpass London. “Retouch” has revealed the spheres of Poznań’s rapidly developing art circles by making a gesture of creative intervention.
The End-of-the-year Exhibition summing up the activities of over 140 ateliers operating at the University was accompanied by exhibitions prepared by institutional galleries, renowned as well as new gallery initiatives, two international exhibitions (“Touchpoint” and “Made in Between”) and concerts (FIlip Merski, Marie Lou Desmelues, Slalam and Föllakzoid), portfolio reviews, and the spectacular finale “No Budget Show “Ubytek-Upadek-Utrata” (“Shortage-Collapse-Loss”) , a curatorial project by a master in rewriting history Robert Kuśmirowski (also showcasing his famous work in the Skala-Träumsgutstrasse gallery). The project is a site-specific event taking place in an abandoned neo-gothic building, a former psychiatric hospital in Owińska. It is a provocative manifesto in which educated artists took part along with those who did not have any knowledge of art, presenting their works which refer to the semantic potential of the location, at the same time pointing to the issue of financing art in the public sphere.
The most notable outcome of the Poznań art week is its continuation and sustaining the atmosphere of being “in action”. This summer, the most recent furniture designs prepared by students and tutors of the Furniture Design Department will be presented in the Municipal City Galleries of the University of the Arts. It is not a coincidence that a new initiative is due to be launched in September and October, under a perverse leitmotif “Parkour: remake”, which in definition is most of all the opposite of the art of wandering described by Walter Benjamin. A special programme is also being prepared in connection with the conference hosted by a nationwide social movement – the Congress of Women.
Despite the fact that the art of getting around in a safe and efficient way (parkour – l’art du déplacement) implies the existence of obstacles which one should overcome, it does not exclude the possibility to pause. Similarly, the art scene of Poznań is gaining momentum and the city – thanks to activity of The University of the Arts in Poznań – is becoming an important point on the artistic map of Europe.
Edited by Contemporary Lynx
Translated by Monika Mokrosz
- Galeria Duża Scena UAP
- Galeria Mała Scena UAP
- Galeria Curators’ Lab
- Galeria DESIGN UAP
- Galeria R20