The study comprised nearly a hundred interviews conducted by the F/SUW team with curators, artists, members of technical staff and assistants from across Poland. The research focused on a thorough examination of twenty artistic projects organised during the last three years in Poland.
Drawing on visual questionnaires, statements from art professionals, institutional analyses and group discussions, the report portrays the political economy of the Polish contemporary art environment alongside its underpinning system of moral beliefs, desires and rationalisations.
In order to understand the current organisation of the art world, the report addresses such concepts as: project, precariousness, flexibility, multitasking, competition and cooperation, selection mechanisms, social and symbolic capital. It also distinguishes a range of tendencies that dominate the Polish “art factory,” among them the following observations:
1. The art market is not in operation, nearly 70% of artists do not acquire more than 10% of earnings from the sale of artworks. The market is a mirage that motivates artists to work for free.
2. The job satisfaction of artistic professions does not depend on objective economic factors, such as earnings. They work for the love of art, even if some of them end up in poverty.
3. The most frequently mentioned injustice is the lack of fees for participation in art projects.
4. Artists are dependent on the economic support from their families – artists receive more support from their families than from the art market or public stipends.
5. People active in the field of art very seldom have children or any other dependants. They tend to be looked after, while not being able to offer care themselves.
6. Each person has only a decade in the field of art – a vast majority of professionals are between 25 and 35 years old. Later, they drop out.
7. The matters of gender and gender-based injustice remain concealed and unexamined.
The publication is the outcome of the project “Division of Labour and Related Distribution of Social and Economic Capital in the Field of Visual Arts in Contemporary Poland.”
Project directors: Michał Kozłowski, Jan Sowa, Kuba Szreder
Administrative managers: Szymon Żydek
Research team: Krzysztof Bielecki (visual identification), Joanna Figiel, Mirosław Filiciak, Dorota Grobelna, Mikołaj Iwański, Michał Kotnarowski, Anna Zawadzka
Advisory board: Hans Abbing, Luc Boltanski, Isabelle Bruno, Pascal Gielen, Gregory Sholette
Study initiators and conference organisers: Free/Slow University of Warsaw, Bęc Zmiana Foundation for New Culture
Partners: Projekt: Polska Foundation, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, British Council, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Poland, Centre of French Culture and Francophone Studies of the University of Warsaw, French Philosophy Workshop of the Institute of Philosophy of the University of Warsaw
The study is carried out in collaboration with the ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland and the National Heritage within the programme Observatory of Culture