Protest and petition in the case of the forcible removal of Aneta Szyłak from New Museum o

Protest and petition in the case of the forcible removal of Aneta Szyłak from New Museum o

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Why this petition matters

Civic Forum for Contemporary Art


Mieczysław Struk

Marshal of Pomeranian Voivodship


Aleksandra Dulkiewicz

City of Gdansk Mayor


Protest and petition in the case of the forcible removal of Aneta Szyłak from New Museum of Art (NOMUS) by Jacek Friedrich–director of National Museum in Gdansk


Honourable Madame President, Honourable Sir Marshal,

As a society of visual artists, critics and curators associated with the Civic Forum of Contemporary Art, we firmly protest against the dissolving of work relationship with Aneta Szyłak by National Museum in Gdansk director Jacek Friedrich. This decision remains wholly unclear to us. As everything indicates, its character is utterly outside of Mrs Szyłak's actual merits.

Polish community of visual arts puts their trust and values Aneta Szyłak incredibly high as a critic, curator, theoretician of art, art manager and her role as artistic life animator with impressive and important body of work. She holds unquestioned authority in both Polish and international circuit of art.

It is thanks to incredible force and inventiveness of Aneta Szyłak NOMUS, that is New Museum of Art in Gdansk came to existence. We all realise what amount of work, many years of activity and intervention creating of such institution would require. Thanks to Szyłak's position in the world of art and the contacts she created NOMUS, while still under construction, was already seen as an art museum with a beyond-local reach: an institution, which we cheered on and in which we had our high hopes.

Many artists applied to the City of Gdansk in the case of their work acquisition to NOMUS (it is worth stressing that Gdansk is unique among Polish cities to have such transparent and democratic procedure of art acquisition), mainly because of Aneta Szyłak's presence, which guaranteed the high status and standard of the collection. Unfortunately, it would have seemed now all of the above might be squandered, and the collection itself becomes endangered.

Sir Marshal, Madame President, art institutions are the places, where personalities are created. Aneta Szyłak discovered and promoted many outstanding artists from the Trinity, effectively introducing them into the international art circuit. She invited many world-famous artists to Gdansk. She created a mutually supportive and professional team, to which she passed her vast experience. We hoped that they could be creating the exhibition programme in NOMUS for many years to come, and its project has been already sketched out in NOMUS program manifesto. Why does it happen, that Polish authorities reciprocate in thus way the people, who actually managed to change the art institution landscape? It is regrettable and unjust, that Aneta Szyłak cannot direct the institution, which she has created and whose manifesto she authored.

Not quite so the matters sit with the director Jacek Friedrich. He remains unknown in the art community. We fear that he does not possess the competence in this area and does not understand what such institution as NOMUS needs. That is why we fear that he might squander the work done by Aneta Szyłak. We fear that as an effect of unconsidered, emotional and politically motivated decisions, he might squander the NOMUS idea, side-tracking it to the level of a provincial collection of a provincial museum, of works collecting dust somewhere in the vast warehouses of the National Museum.

Sir Marshal, Madame President, the political right presently overtakes and destroys subsequent art institutions. In the realm of art it is sufficient to name the case of Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw and the removal of director Hanna Wróblewska. It would not surprise us, if it turns out that director Friedrich is merely the executor of New Museum of Art's sentence which was already decided in Piotr Gliński cabinet in the Ministry of Culture.

With disbelief and indignation, we accept the words of Jacek Friedrich, who publicly slandered Aneta Szyłak at a public promotion of museum catalogue and shamelessly admitted he could disciplinarily dismiss her, which he magnanimously hasn’t. It sufficiently indicates the director's relation to his employees and mounts a question, if such a person should be put in a managerial position. During this meeting Aneta Szyłak mentioned the abusive work relationship she encountered. We have no reason not to believe her, especially as her words find confirmation in the relationships of other employees, which had been in touch with us. We do not give our permission to mobbing and narcissist and abusive art managers! 

The main organiser of the New Art Museum in the Marshal of Pomeranian Voivodeship. The building, where the NOMUS collection is housed had been founded by the City of Gdansk.

Sir Marshal, Madame President, we ask for a blockade of any possible competition for the new manager of that department (which necessity director Friedrich mentioned during that public meeting) and claiming its groundlessness. We postulate the removal of the New Museum of Art from the national Museum structures. We postulate the renewed appointment of Aneta Szyłak as the director of this institution, so that she could direct the museum she has created. We consider this the only way to save the mission of NOMUS. We believe that the wellbeing of the institution as well as its international reputation is important to you. NOMUS's success will work for the city of Gdansk reputation too.

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