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Museum of the Future for the 90th anniversary of Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź

Anniversaries usually make you look back. For Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, however, the 90th anniversary of the opening of the permanent exhibition of the International Collection of Modern Art of the “a.r.” Group, that we celebrate this year, it is above all an opportunity to look to the future. One of the oldest museums of modern art in the world will not only focus on studying history but will also reflect on the role that artistic institutions might play in shaping our tomorrow.

An unusual collection of works by the artists who today make up the canon of the world avant-garde was made available to public on February 15, 1931 not in Paris, Berlin or Vienna, but in the working-class city of Łódź. It only happened thanks to a collective effort of the artists from all over Europe who were united by solidarity and enthusiasm for the idea of creating a museum that would reflect the spirit of modernity. Members of the a.r. group - Strzemiński, Kobro and Stażewski, as well as Przyboś and Brzękowski - convinced such outstanding artists as Fernand Leger, Max Ernst, Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Theo van Doesburg to participate in the idea. These, in turn, donated their works to the collection, which became the cornerstone of the institution known today as Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. 90 years ago, this collective gesture started a story that continues to this day.

Scheduled for the autumn of 2021, The Avant-garde Museum exhibition showing the beginnings of the Łódź institution and similar initiatives in which artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Katherine Dreier and Marcel Duchamp were involved - is a project that transfers the idea from decades ago to the present day. It will present the museum conceived by avant-gardists as a space in which one can experiment with art and its reception, create a field for the exchange of ideas, stimulate critical reflection and explore different ways in which we see the world. It will allow us to see in the idea of such a museum a social initiative that can shape or design the future. It will raise a question of whether we can still draw on the potential of its utopian, avant-garde concept. The exhibition, starting from the historical gesture made by the artists, while talking about the past, will allow us to look into the future - both that concerning the museum institution itself, as well as the one concerning the whole society.

During the jubilee year, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź will look for answers and inspirations both in the past and its own collections, as well as in the art of outstanding contemporary artists. There will be exhibitions presenting the artwork of Leopold Buczkowski or Urszula Czartoryska’s curator work. There will also be a collective exhibition entitled The Earth is Flat Again, as well as other projects to which the museum invited such artists as:  Agata Siniarska, Céline Condorelli, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Agnieszka Kurant, Jasmina Cibic, Marek Sobczyk and many others. These exhibitions will not only confront the contemporary trends in art with the avant-garde concepts but will also allow us to look into the future and suggest possible scenarios for it.

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What does the gesture of giving involve? In what social situations does its acceptance and reciprocity become a political declaration? Slovenian artist Jasmina Cibic will refer to the concept of a gift in her project in order to look at shaping international relations and local identities in Europe. The key element of the exhibition will be a film through which Cibic portrays important architectural testimonies of transnational alliances, such as the Palace of Nations in Ghent or the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. The buildings erected in periods following economic and humanitarian crises testify to the need for reconstruction and renovation. It resulted from the experience of the First World War, and then the Second World War, which changed European countries and prompted them to undertake joint peaceful actions and political activity based on persuasion (and not only on coercion as used in the past). Jasmina Cibic, on the basis of discussions in both the field of diplomacy and art, analyzes the relationship between culture and politics from the perspective of the so called ‘soft power’ activities.

London-based artist Céline Condorelli and Wendelien van Oldenborgh, who represented the Netherlands at the 2017 Venice Biennale, will engage in a dialogue with the most important space of Muzeum Sztuki, the Neoplastic Room designed in 1948 by Władysław Strzemiński, as the venue for the exhibition of the collection of the “a.r.” group. It was the way in which Strzemiński emphasized the community of avant-garde artists. The community-forming aspect of contemporary design will also be revealed in the films and installations of both artists. Their narratives also include such themes as global changes in work or the transformation of the functions of architecture through the emergence of new social practices. Van Oldenborgh’s productions are often films about the relationship between women’s work and spending free time in places that in the past were oriented towards industrial production. Condorelli, on the other hand, focuses on the role of architecture in creating shared spaces.

While the belief in the interdependencies linking architectural and social organization is within the intellectual sphere of the historical avant-garde, the practice of another artist invited to collaborate on this project definitely goes beyond the horizon of the 20th century. In the world of Agnieszka Kurant’s artistic productions, there is no longer a place for a traditional “community”. It has been replaced by collective intelligence - a phenomenon that in the era of late capitalism became the key to understanding contemporary reality. In this post-humanist vision, we all work relentlessly in a gigantic factory producing and exploiting data on the Internet. We pursue goals set by algorithms unconsciously and anonymously, and our efforts are capitalized by equally dehumanized corporations. In this economic model, creativity begins to resemble working in a termite community rather than in communities such as artists from the “a.r.” group. A single author may soon be replaced by a more complex, polyphonic form of creativity. Kurant’s works build on the tension between art and philosophy and modern science, speculating on how much we, as a society, depend on technological change, the future of which is difficult to predict, even with the help of algorithms.

Effects of networking perceived from a different perspective will be presented in the The Earth is Flat Again exhibition, the title of which becomes a specific motto of the era of globalization defined by information technologies. In our reality, built on the principles of the Enlightenment Era and the belief in endless scientific and technological progress, myths, magical thinking and spiritual imagination are gaining popularity all the time. The exhibition will show that these two worlds, only seemingly distant, existing in the world and functioning side by side, in fact, interpenetrate and complement each other. The project will concern, among others, methods of information distribution and commodification, and will look at how myths function and circulate when or where a rational description seems insufficient. Through the artists invited in these project it will also look for new ways of thinking about the world and new metaphors for describing it, opening up the field for discussion between seemingly contradictory models of knowledge.

Urszula Czartoryska, who created a pioneering collection of photographs at Muzeum Sztuki, confronted the chaotic world that was disintegrating into images. Decades ago, Czartoryska noticed that photography is the medium that builds our icono-sphere to the greatest extent, and today is still the dominant way in which images reflect themselves in our contemporary times. She dared to combine the avant-garde collection of Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź with the reportage photos or family photos. It changed both the status of the photographs themselves, which she had incorporated into the realm of art, and reinterpreted the collection itself. The exhibition will contribute to speculation about the museum of the future, among others, by the practice of incorporating completely new elements in terms of quality into the already existing wholes and the ability to move their boundaries.

Leopold Buczkowski devoted his artistic practice to the search for a language which would describe the world that has collapsed as a result of a catastrophe. A witness of the bestialities of the Second World War, one of the most important experimenters of Polish literature, the author of famous novels, including “Black Torrent” or “Baths in Lucca”, while looking for means of expression, he, which few may remember about, created drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs. The exhibition, prepared thanks to the possibility of acquisition for the museum’s collection a significant part of the artist’s work, will be the first attempt to extract from oblivion the writer’s visual activity and its comprehensive approach based on the concepts derived from his writings. A project presenting a bitter reflection of the artist who has experienced the annihilation of his world may allow us to imagine the far-reaching consequences of the global political, economic and climate crises.

Art and revolution, the periphery and the centre, East and West, economy, action, utopia and social sculpture are just some of the concepts that will be presented in the last of this year’s projects. Marek Sobczyk’s sculptural and painting installation, which will be shown in the premises of Muzeum Sztuki as part of the Prototypes series, is to be an artistic response to Joseph Beuys’  “Polentransport” campaign from 1981.

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Does the institution based on the concept created by revolutionary artists in the first decades of the twentieth century still have the potential to create projects that would in the language of art and humanities diagnose the present and propose answers relevant to the future, in decades or years to come? This is the fundamental question formulated in the project “The Avant-garde Museum”. We want to get closer to the answers by inviting authors to work with what we broadly understand as museum resources. At the same time, in order to be able to build a bridge between the image of the museum from the past and the vision of the museum of the future, we plan to create a platform for interdisciplinary dialogues on socially important topics today. We plan it to be a year-long series of discussions on the futurological visions of economics, the virtual world, care, mental health, accessibility problems and ecology. We are going to ask artists, theoreticians, philosophers, economists, as well as museum professionals invited to the project the question of what type of museum we will need in the coming years. We will also try to imagine the conditions in which a museum institution of its present form may lose its raison d'être. This way, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź wants to approach possible versions of the Avant-garde Museum of the Future.

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TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS OPENING IN 2021

Jasmina Cibic. The Palace

ms1, 36 Więckowskiego Street, 1st floor

May 21 – August 29, 2021

curator: Agnieszka Pindera


Tender Attention. Urszula Czartoryska and Photography

ms2, 19 Ogrodowa Street, ground floor

May 28 – September 5, 2021

curators: Maria Franecka and Marta Szymańska


Errorism. Agnieszka Kurant

ms1, 36 Więckowskiego Street, ground floor

June 11 – November 7, 2021

curator: Jakub Gawkowski

 

Praca, praca, praca (praca). Céline Condorelli i Wendelien van Oldenborgh (transl. Work, work, work (work). Céline Condorelli and Wendelien van Oldenborgh)

ms1, 36 Więckowskiego Street, 2nd floor

June 18 – September 5, 2021

curators: Daniel Muzyczuk and Joanna Sokołowska

 

Korowód. Edward Dwurnik i widma historii (transl. Procession. Edward Dwurnik and the Specters of History)

Old Masters’ Gallery

July 9 – August 31, 2021

curator: Katarzyna Kończal

 

Ziemia znów jest płaska (transl. The Earth is Flat Again)

ms1, 36 Więckowskiego Street, 1st floor

September 24, 2021 – January 2022

curator: Jakub Gawkowski

 

The Avant-garde Museum

ms1, 36 Więckowskiego Street, 2nd floor

October 15, 2021 – February 27, 2022

curators: Agnieszka Pindera and Jarosław Suchan

 

Leopold Buczkowski. Przebłyski historii, przelotne obrazki (transl. Leopold Buczkowski. Flashes of history, fleeting pictures)

ms2, 19 Ogrodowa Street, ground floor

October 29, 2021 – February 2022

curator: Paweł Polit

 

Prototypes 05: Marek Sobczyk

ms1, 36 Więckowskiego Street, ground floor

December 10, 2021 – February 2022

curator: Hanna Wróblewska

MS curator: Katarzyna Słoboda

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