The Involvement of Art Institutions in the Construction of a New Symbolic Order. Polish Art Institutions after 1989

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 14 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Elzbieta NIEROBA, Opole University, Poland
Art institutions are among the players in the field of art, along with artists, institutions raising artists (art colleges/institutes, known in Poland as academies of fine arts), art critics, art collectors and art dealers. Each of the entities with its own interest in mind strives to gain advantage over other players in a given field to obtain a monopoly for dictating rules, norms, and guidelines concerning artistic activity. The field of art is also influenced by external factors, both economic and political.

This paper is aimed at analysing the status of Polish public art institutions in the strengthening of the social impact of art following 1989. The art of the 1990s is a record of  its own kind, of the Polish social and political transformation. This was a time where art institutions competed against each other to gain the symbolic upper hand to decide on the shape of the Polish art domain. Since art institutions belong with the state administration system, whereas a critical description of reality was at the core of critical art’s purpose, it remains to be answered whether the institutions in fact guaranteed the freedom of artistic expression and work. Therefore, it has been my intention to resolve if, and to what degree, art institutions were actually involved in the discussion on the shape of the Polish society, and to establish the role they played in constructing and maintaining the discourse of the so-called “critical art” which dominated the Polish artistic scene back in the 1990s.