Revoke the director appointment at Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw
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As citizens and members of the international artistic community as well as the audience of contemporary art we firmly object to the decision made by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland to appoint Piotr Bernatowicz to the position of the director of the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art without an open competition recruitment procedure. We reject both the manner in which the appointment was carried out and the candidate chosen by the Minister.
The Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art is a transdisciplinary institution of international importance and a showcase for Polish contemporary art. An appointment that bypasses the competition procedure despite the existence of the necessary legal framework sets an exceptionally alarming precedent. It seems even more disturbing in the context of earlier personnel decisions that had a strong negative impact on important cultural institutions, such as the National Museum in Warsaw, Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre in Kraków, and Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews. This blatant disregard for procedures suggests that the decision was politically motivated rather than based on objective criteria such as merit. Such stance impedes any kind of dialogue about the program and development of the institution in the coming years.
Leading a large-scale institution such as the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art requires not only specialized knowledge but also managerial expertise. One of the key skills in administration and supervision is a sense for diplomacy, as well as the ability to represent Poland in international contexts. Piotr Bernatowicz has no relevant experience. He has never worked closely with foreign curators nor planned an exhibition abroad. Nor is he able to demonstrate any qualifications in managing international projects, creating strategic partnerships with institutions abroad, and obtaining grants or other types of funding. Such experience should have been deemed essential in a candidate for a position this prestigious and of this importance.
The newly appointed candidate is not a successful negotiator. During his tenure as the director of the Arsenal Municipal Gallery in Poznań his actions caused a serious conflict with the curatorial section of his team and profund alienation of the local artistic community that resulted in an open letter of 76 young artists who were opposed to the renewal of his contract. A series of his disastrous decisions caused serious damage to the reputation of the gallery he was responsible for.
As a journalist and director of a public institution, Piotr Bernatowicz has on numerous occasions condoned and supported statements that can be considered hate speech. There is no room in the public sector for the artworks which target singled out social groups, misogynistic artwork (the exhibitions Strategies of Rebellion, Arsenal Municipal Gallery, 2015), or songs filled with anti-Semitic stereotyping (“Arsenał Kultury” (Arsenal of Culture) – a radio broadcast in Radio Poznań, 2017). Any artistic institution that promotes such messages risks losing its national and international audience, and perhaps a boycott.
We call upon the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Gliński not to appoint Piotr Bernatowicz to the position of the director of the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, and to carry out an open competition procedure in accordance with the appropriate standards of transparency and probity. Only an open competition will enable the candidates to demonstrate their qualifications and ability and present their programs for the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art that would do justice to this renowned institution and allow it to maintain its international status.
signed by (among others)
Charles Esche, Director Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Professor of University of the Arts London
Ferran Barenblit, Director MACBA Museu d’art Contemporani de Barcelona
Zdenka Badovinac, Director of Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana
Krist Gruithuijsen, Director Kunstwerke, Berlin
Annie Fletcher, Director Irish Museum of Modern Art, IMMA, Dublin
Ekaterina Degot, Director and Chief Curator Steirischer Herbst, Austria
Cosmin Costinas, Director Para Site, Hong Kong
Dirk Snauwaert, Director, WIELS, Brussels
Zoë Gray, Chief Curator, WIELS, Brussels"
Guy Gypens, Director of Kaaitheter, Brussels
Kathleen Van Langendonck, Artistic Director of Kaaitheater, Brussels
Jan Goossens, Director Festival de Marseille
Bart De Baer, Director M HKA, Antwerp
Övul Durmusoglu, Guest Professor Univesität der Künste Graduate School, Berlin Academy of Arts and Science), Berlin
dr Vytautas Michelkevicius, Head of doctoral programme in Fine Art, VDA , Vilnius
Lucy R. Lippard, independent curator
Hal Foster, art critic
Martha Rosler, artist, Professor II Emerita, Rutgers University
Naeem Mohaiemen, artistAnselm Franke, curator
dr Jesus Carrillo, Lecturer of Contemporary Art History, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
dr Gregory Sholette, prof. Queens College Art Department "
dr Suhail Malik, Programme Co-Director, MFA Fine Art, Goldsmith College w Londynie
dr Simon Sheikh, programme director of MFA in Curating, Goldmith's College, London
prof. Dr. Hans Abbing. visual artist and economist, professor emeritus in art sociology at the University of Amsterdam
Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias, Professor Oberlin College & Conservatory, USA
Cindi Katz, Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Environmental Psychology Programs, New York
prof. Zoe Beloff, Department of Media Studies, Queens College
dr Vasyl Cherepanyn, Head of the Visual Culture Research Center / Kyiv Biennial
dr Yaiza Hernández Velázquez, Goldsmiths, University of London
dr Marcus Verhagen, Senior Lecturer, Sotheby's Institute of Art
Jason E. Bowman FRSA, Master of Fine Art Programme Leader, Valand Academy: Artistic Practice in Film, Photography, Fine Art and Literature at the University of Gothenburg.
Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias, Professor of Art, Profesor Oberlin College & Conservatory, USA
Luisa Santos, researcher and professor of Cultural Studies at the Faculty of Human Sciences, Universidade Católica Portuguesa"
Dirk De Wit, Coördinator internationale relaties en beeldende kunsten, Kunstenpunt / Flanders Arts Institute
William Menking, Editor In Chief, The Architect's Newspaper, New York
Martha Kirszenbaum, curator of French Pavilon at 58th Venice Biennale
Iliana Fokianaki, curator and director State of Concept, Athens
Livia Paldi, curator Project Art Centre, Dublin
Rachel Dedman, curator Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Matteo Lucchetti, curator Visible Project, Cittadellarte-Fondazione Michelangelo Pistoletto/Fondazione Zegna
Oier Etxeberria, Head of the Contemporary Art department in Tabakalera, Donostia-San Sebastian
Katia Krupennikova, co-curator Bergen Assembly 2019
Marilia Loureiro, curator, Casa do Povo, Sao Paulo
Nini Palavandishvili, curator, GeoAir, Tbilisi
Dóra Hegyi, curatorTranzit.hu, Budapest
Dimitry Vilensky, artist, Chto Delat
Ula Sickle, artist
Miet Warlop, artist
Jos van der Pol, artist
Maria Loboda, artist
Eva Kotatkova, artist
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