Works from the Regional Zacheta Contemporary Art Collection Szczecin
curators: Agata Zbylut, Kamil Kuskowski
The impulse to create the Regional Collection of Zachęta Contemporary Art in Szczecin was the National Culture Program Signs of the Time founded in 2004. It encouraged local governments to invest in contemporary art as well as create new qualities. Instead of financing the existing culture institutions, the program distributed subsidies through NGOs, provided their activities were funded by local governments. Associations founded in each voivodeship were modeled after Zachęta National Gallery of Art. The value of the program was not only convincing the local governments to talk about contemporary art, but also bringing their attention to activities of the third sector.
The program also assumed far-reaching sovereignty of the participating subjects, which decided themselves about the priorities of the emerging collection. In the case of the Regional Collection of Zachęta Contemporary Art we have considered the resources already gathered in the region – the collection of the National Museum in Szczecin and the Osiecka Collection of the Museum in Koszalin. This is why we chose the year 1989 as a starting point, as it is both a moment of political, economic and mental transformation and a symbolic date when most regional collections lost their continuity.
The objective of the Association was to build a collection that would serve as a kind of a lesson on history of Polish contemporary art for the citizens of Szczecin and the region, and preserve a trace of the most important artistic events in the area. Hence, the Collection includes names of the most distinguished artists of the region, but the main part of it are artists whose works have become classics of Polish contemporary art. The Collection also includes traces of different events in Szczecin, such as subsequent editions of festivals: Draught Festival, InSPIRACJe, Baltic Biennial of Contemporary Art and the Festival of Polish Painting.
The works for the exhibition were chosen among two hundred pieces we managed to gather in the course of six years. The title of the show, Nothing is important forever comes from a John Muley’s piece, which we will also see in Toruń. It does not refer to the idea of creating a collection, because as history shows – almost nothing has left of many civilizations except for their art, which is a testimony of the existence of past societies. The title is more of an exploration of the reality we live in. The chosen works oscillate around several motifs connected to the archetypical ideas of home, childhood, religion and faith. Those ideas are inseparably linked to the feeling of comfort or on the contrary – with lack of comfort; with hope or the moment when it dies.
Among the presented works we will find pieces full of mysticism like Revelation by Tomasz Mroz or The Secret of Double Pleasure by Krzysztof Sołowiej, but also such as Artur Malczewski’s The Heart of Hearts showing the story of Anneliese Michel, whose religiosity combined with illness led to her death by starvation. The project includes Virgins by Marta Deskur, each of them pregnant and each looking at us with the artist’s eyes. We will look in the eyes of children whose suggestive images have been completely digitally concocted by Aneta Grzeszczykowska and of Barbara Konopko’s angels, whose naked bodies hide an uncanny force. The exhibition will also present works exploring the theme of a home. Among these there are sensual photographs of Natalia LL posing in a fur on a luxurious sofa from the communistic times and, created in the same period, photographs by Zygmunt Rytko Fiat 126p, in which long legs of a model are packed into the cult car. We will see The Housing Development ’30 years of the People’s Republic of Poland’ crocheted by Julita Wójcik and photographed scenes 16.30 by Klaudia Wojciechowicz – a sad landscape after coming home from work. We will meet Supermother – Elżbieta Jabłońska and Józef Robakowski doing My Video-Masochisms in the quiet of his home. And all this is, as Wojciech Duda’s neon will gleam in our faces, Polish quality [Polska jakoś(ć)…]
text by dr Agata Zbylut
President of the Association for Contemporary Art Zachęta
The collection itself is financed from the means of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Szczecin.