In connection with both the Polish as well as the global art scene, which is becoming increasingly transgressive, media and market oriented, political, and controversial, the exhibition title COMMON AFFAIRS raises questions. Is art really so commonplace? Is it really a joint matter? What role does art play today, in the summer of 2016—not only in Poland, but also in a European context?
COMMON AFFAIRS was conceived as a cooperation project between the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin, the Polish Institute Berlin, and the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. At the two Berlin venues, the exhibition presents a selection of artists who were nominated for the VIEWS Award from 2003 to the present. It touches on the history and impact of the award initiated by Deutsche Bank and the Zachęta, which has become the most important prize for contemporary Polish art. At the same time, the curators of the show, Julia Kurz from Leipzig and Stanisław Welbel from Warsaw, together with the participating artists, explore the freedoms, discourse, and exchange afforded by public and private sponsorship, and how art is used as an ideological instrument as a result. The different artists featured in COMMON AFFAIRS comment on the years that have elapsed since the new political system was introduced in Poland in 1989 and Poland’s changed role in the European community. It is telling that the exhibition is taking place within the framework of the festivities commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Polish- German Treaty of Good Neighborship and Friendly Cooperation and the twinning arrangement between Berlin and Warsaw. Polish artists have repeatedly cast a critical eye on the country’s political situation. One such artist is Janek Simon with his sculpture series “Real Poles”. The series is a reaction to recent political discourse in Poland and the discussion about what it means to be a Pole. Anna Okrasko also poses this question with her ongoing project “Patriots” in which she investigates the relationships between a group of young Polish emigrants who divide their time between Rotterdam and Silesia.