A discussion held at the Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw on 9 December 2004 as part of Festiwal czasopism kulturalnych [Cultural Magazines Festival], chaired by Sebastian Cichocki. Participants: Marcel Andino Velez, Przekrój; Piotr Bernatowicz, Arteon; Grzegorz Borkowski, Obieg; Dorota Jarecka, Gazeta Wyborcza; Iza Kowalczyk, artmix;, Joanna Mytkowska, the Foksal Gallery Foundation; Violetta Sajkiewicz, artPAPIER and Michał Woliński, Fluid.
Would it be possible for art in Poland to live its own life without the existence of critics? Would artists work more freely without being concerned with critical analyses? It is obvious that art critique is extremely important in relation to many phenomena taking place in the world of art since it “provides a framework for contemporary art”, greatly helping the viewer in the interpretation of the particular works. “Art without a commentary remains in a void, often being illegible and defenceless against the various attacks that it has to deal with.”
The problem, however, is the fact that we still lack involved critique, with ‘involved’ meaning critique that expresses individuality as well as one’s own opinions and values concerning art. A critic’s ‘bold pen’ is still a rarity. There are still not enough articles like Ewa Toniak’s confident critique of the works of Artur Żmijewski (published in Format). What is more, we still suffer from a shortage of negative critique based on well-founded arguments, as opposed to the heavy criticism offered by right-wing publications, for example Nasz Dziennik. What is more, contrary to the severe criticisms from right-wing publications such as Nasz Dziennik, we still suffer from a shortage of negative critique based on well-founded arguments. Professional magazines including Magazyn Sztuki, Arteon and Obieg, have not yet engaged in dialogue. Each seems to be following with their own trend, like, for example, Raster, which is addressed to its own specific readers, communicating with them with ‘its tongue in its cheek’. Additionally, the fact that most critics are also gallery owners does not improve the situation. In Western Europe this condition is often compared to “the work of psychoanalysts who sleep with their patients.” In this case a negative and harsh assessment becomes a complex challenge.
Fortunately, the former manner of writing displaying the critic’s extensive vocabulary and knowledge has been replaced by a style that focuses on the contents and the message. And despite the fact that professional publications still use terminology that is difficult to understand for ordinary readers, and despite the demand for challenging critical and theoretical texts by the critics themselves, the goal of expanding the circles of contemporary art perception is becoming increasingly apparent.