The Polish Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński appointed Piotr Bernatowicz as the new director of the Centre for Modern Art in Warsaw, who is assigned to the right spectrum. Many artists fear a turnaround in Poland’s art scene.

Piotr Gliński

Again and again we have to report about worsening of the situation for queer people in Poland. Now the country’s art scene is being hit hard: the Minister of Culture did not extend the term of office of the director of the Centre for Modern Art, instead replacing Malgorzata Ludwisiak with the right-wing national art historian and gallery director Piotr Bernatowicz – without an official call for applications.

The new director had previously been responsible for an exhibition in Poznan in which it became clear that his politically right-wing attitude also finds a place in art: Antifeminist statements such as “You’re mean, ugly and lazy – stay a feminist” or being gay would be okay – if the children weren’t ‘being gay-ed’, the exhibition “Resistance Strategy” at the Arsenal Gallery in Poznan was characterised by a strong emphasis on the right-wing. All under the guise of freedom of expression and modern art.

The right-wing national Polish press celebrated the exhibition, art critics were of a different opinion. Shortly afterwards Bernatowicz was fired – which made him a hero of the right-wing art movement. He now also promises on the side of the Ministry of Culture for the future of the Centre for Modern Art to focus in future on artists who had previously been “unjustly marginalised”.

Queer art in the museum

Currently, the Center for Modern Art is showing the exhibition “The Power of Secrets” by the openly gay artist Karol Radziszweski. Polish Vogue describes the exhibition as one of the first such extensive presentations of queer art in a public Polish institution. And at the same time fears that it might be the last.

Piotr Gliński has been guilty of questionable personnel decisions in the recent past, whereupon, according to the Polish art scene, the institutions slipped into insignificance: The Teatr Polski in Wroclaw and the Warsaw National Museum.

In open letters to the ministry, Polish artists and experts express their fears that the Warsaw Art Centre will soon have to join the inglorious ranks – due to “incompetent personnel decisions”.

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  • Piotr_Gliński_Sejm_2015: By: Adrian Grycuk - own work / CC BY-SA 3.0 pl /
  • Muzeum_Narodowe_w_Warszawie: By: Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie - Own work / CC BY-SA 4.0 /

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