Panel Discussion: 'Fading Democracy: Re-Negotiating Conflict'

Friday, April 23, 2021 9:00am to 10:30am

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All are invited to attend “Re-negotiating Conflict” a panel discussion on contemporary Polish political art, featuring Dr. Magda Szcześniak, Dr. Łukasz Zaremba, and Agata Pyzik, moderated by Dr. Rachel Haidu. The third session of a four-part series on the state of democracy and its challenges at the beginning of the twenty-first century will focus on the work and practices of Polish contemporary artists seeking to understand why right-wing political movements have secured strong support among working-class and lower-middle-class communities outside of the biggest urban centers in Poland, and why the post-1989 transition promoted exclusionary politics towards such communities.

Please RSVP by Thursday, April 22. You will receive confirmation of your registration. The link to the event will be sent in a reminder email on the 22nd. 

For a number of years, Poland has been experiencing a wave of cultural wars, whose sides have been drawn along the usual lines of conservative and liberal approaches towards reproductive rights, sexual identity, the idea of the nation. While often participating in these struggles, a younger cohort of artists has recently emerged, ones who, while insisting on the political potential of art, point to the necessity of renegotiating the terms of the conflict. Seeking to understand why right-wing political movements have secured strong support among working-class and lower-middle-class communities outside of the biggest urban centers in Poland, the artists work to uncover the exclusionary politics promoted during the post-1989 transition, when a new model of neoliberal middle-class self-hood gained ground. Critiqued and parodied as unable to adapt to Western-style modernity, rural, small-town, and working-class communities have been largely excluded from the public sphere, including art. In the panel, we will discuss contemporary art practices which not only critique such exclusionary politics but also draw upon practices and imageries of those groups to imagine a different community. These artists, often themselves coming from small towns and rural areas, seek to uncover potentially alternative models of relations, aesthetics, care, and exchange. Far from idealizing these communities, they also point to their own ambiguous identity of upwardly mobile, often queer, artists negotiating between different social realities.”                                                                       

Dr. Rachel Haidu is an Associate Professor of Art History and the Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Rochester.

Dr. Magda Szcześniak is an Assistant Professor in the Section for Film and Visual Culture at the Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw.

Dr.  Łukasz Zaremba, is an Assistant Professor in the Section for Film and Visual Culture, at the Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw.

Agata Pyzik, is a Polish journalist and cultural critic.

The following artists will be discussed during the panel discussion. The links provided will help you to become familiar with their work prior to the discussion:

Daniel Rycharski: Daniel Rycharski / Culture.plDaniel Rycharski / Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw

Fashion House Limanka [an art collective]: Fashion House Limanka / Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art 

Tomasz Armada: Tomasz Armada / Vogue Polska

Jaśmina Wójcik: Jaśmina Wójcik / Symphony of the Ursus Factory, Jaśmina Wójcik / Ursus Factory Projekt / Ujazdowski Castle for Contemporary Art

Honorata Martin: Honorata Martin / Culture.pl, Honorata Martin / Setting forth into Poland

The last panel discussion, led by Dr. Thomas Fleischman, will focus on ecological crises symptomatic of countries increasingly under the influence of nationalist parties and authoritarian governments. It is scheduled for Friday, May 7 from 1:30 to 3:00 pm. 

The Fading Democracy series is organized by the Ph.D. students of the Department of History and co-sponsored by the Department of History, the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies, The Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, the Humanities Center, the Art and Art History Department, and the Russian Studies Program.

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