City of Artists

In the past, WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION festival dealt with architecture and its designers, advertising in the public space, and participation processes. And now, the time came for artists.

Warsaw of the year 2014 is a centre of the Polish artistic life, being the seat for the most important Polish cultural institutions, commercial galleries and cultural periodicals. Every month, Warsaw witnesses dozens of new exhibitions, book presentations, performances, discussions and film shows. As a result of symbolic installations in the city public space (such as Greetings from Aleje Jerozolimskie by Joanna Rajkowska or The Rainbow by Julita Wójcik), Warsaw art is commented on the front-pages of the biggest papers, and is well-known to the city inhabitants. Through their lifestyles, also artists themselves set trends that, after a while, become popular in the society as a whole or in some of its sections. Thus, artists and their art play an important role in emancipatory processes.

WUC has always been a festival depicting the city. This year, we will look at the city from the perspective of visual artists whose role in shaping Warsaw is still underrated, though it is them who often have been the initiators of the new city lifestyles that make the capital so attractive today.

Today, artists discuss the problem of their inclusion in the general social security system. People who have for many years been creative in the field of culture cannot retire for economic reasons, and have to look for other employments to secure for themselves/ health and retirement insurance. In the era of common economic uncertainty, artists again open a discussion that can soon become pertinent also for other social groups if they find themselves in a similar situation.

Uncritical participation of some artists in the free-market processes is a disturbing phenomenon. Though Warsaw has not yet become a city where gentrification significantly impairs the conditions of life for excluded groups, there is little doubt that this will happen in the near future. The role of artists in the processes is often ambiguous and should be watched and critically evaluated.

The local government in Warsaw, having huge real-estate stock at its disposal, fails to initiate any programs of cheap studios for artists. Artists are left alone. How do they manage in the existing reality? What are their attitudes? Are they aware of their rights? Does Warsaw need a new social contract between artists and the local authorities? What is the role of artists in shaping the public space? Can their activities become an inspiration for the inhabitants of Warsaw? These are the questions that we will try to answer during this year's festival.

The main events of the WUC6 will be exhibitions organised in five localisations: the Institute of Avant-Garde, the Jabłkowski Brothers Emporium, studios at Inżynirska Street, the studio of Jan Styczyński and the Museum of Modern Art at Pańska Street.

As in the previous editions of the festival, the past will be our point of departure. WUC6 will tell the story of today's artistic life, looking for its roots in the beginnings of public exhibitions and in the origins of the artistic education system, and surveying their influence on the life of the city.