Let the culture survive
Joanna Mytkowska
Roman Sakin. The Door. 2020

I cannot imagine this regime lasts longer than a year. I believe we will have some vaccination or certain remedy for this disease soon. Officially we are planning to reopen our postponed exhibition in the beginning of June. Yes, there will be restrictions. No gatherings, no public programs, no vernissages, no more than 40 people in the room in our case—one person per 15 square meters. So visiting exhibition will transform into very slow, very meditating sort of experience. But from the next year on, I believe we can more or less come back to the normal thinking of the exhibition. I hope social distancing won’t stay with us for long. Everybody optimistically tells that we won’t have blockbuster shows anymore. But one of my colleagues, very experienced curator, said that for sure, people do invent something worse. There is always a chance for new voices. I don’t think there will be a shift in art in a simple way that one medium will just replace another. But I believe it can be a huge political tend in the content. Artists will reflect the conditions as there might be a deep crisis, especially related to citizens’ rights because of keeping this regime for the pandemic is so expected—some governments will do it for sure. But also it might be turn in people’s minds about all those issues that always supressed like climate crisis, degrowth and other things unpleasant for society. Saving life on the planet might be more important than anything else. People might become more eager to change their way of life, believes and habits. Now we expect that huge economical crisis will affect artists and other people connected with cultural field. And those people are usually working not on the permanent agreement but as freelancers. What this situation is showing is how bad the economic system is that so many people are relying only on these freelance jobs, which are inefficient, don’t give any stability, and in moment of the crisis it’s catastrophic for the people working in it. We are at the beginning of the huge crisis so maybe it’s the moment to discuss how we can change this structure. We want to distribute as much as we can our financial funds to other actors on the artistic scene. We don’t have big budget so it would be more a symbolic gesture than the real help. But then there is sort of showing the direction. We are actively lobbying government support for artists and other cultural workers. It’s how we perceive culture. It doesn’t begin in big institutions but, in countries like in Poland, in thousands of small, private initiatives all living from grants. To keep the variety, to keep the vital culture, it’s necessary to let those people survive. We want to engage ourselves into the discussion how to solve this very urgent 168 problem. But what is positive, the government of Warsaw as well as the central government are somehow aware of that situation. They don’t want to cut our budgets and even encourage us to be a sort of structure in-between the government and private persons. There is also a tension that governments still want to give grants for production of artworks but we think it should rather give a social support, scholarship, something to let people survive. Especially this is very problematic because everybody are producing for the internet now. And the web is overloaded with whatever content we cannot swallow anymore. The pandemic shows that the degrowth will be one of the key notions for everybody but also for the art world. It means for artists not to overproduce anymore.

April 10, 2020