“In the New Region of the World: Contemporary Art and Ethnographic Collections”


In what way do constructs arising from colonial ideas still shape global reality? Is there any way to imagine a shared future without critiquing the legacy of colonialism which remains potent to this day? Those are the questions which the exhibition A New Region of the World poses at Bunkier Sztuki Gallery.

The artists reach into the cultural archives, laying bare their unsettling contents. The

Western canon turns out to be threaded by patterns of domination. It has created images of “peripheral cultures” which serve to create areas of radical otherness in the heart of humanity and to deepen hierarchising dichotomies: “familiar” vs. “exotic”, “us” vs. “them”. At the same time, however, contemporary art brings out alternative narratives from archival resources, stories about resistance, but also about the constant recirculation of cultural codes.

Ethnographic museums, with collections assembled in accordance with a colonial

imagination specific to an epoch, are natural spaces for similar reflections. The work of Polish researchers is part of Europe’s history of ethnography with all its embarrassing implications. What meanings do their collections have today? Can we construe them in new ways? To whom do these collections really belong?

We would like to question the present-day identity and future function of

ethnographic museums, about the need and possibility for their “decolonisation”. It is not about effacing the historical background of their collections, but thoroughly analysing them, which is indispensable in order to open a field for new perspectives.

We will try to juxtapose the paths indicated by contemporary art with curatorial

practices, with anthropological and museological reflections, as well as with the experiences gained through fieldwork.

An idea taken from the thought of Edouard Glissant, Martinican writer and

philosopher, is the context for those considerations – the idea that the entire globe is becoming before our very eyes “a new region of the world”, where all the things which were not in contact with each other not too long ago, meet and enter into a relationship. The following question thus becomes appropriate: In this new environment, how can we draw from sources which served to shape the world of the colonial epoch?

Program:

3rd November 2017

 

6:00 p.m. How to depict racism? Pictures that look at us

A lecture by César Carillo Trueba (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), with Margot Sputo participating.

Location: Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, pl. Szczepański 3a

 

7th November 2017

 

11:30 a.m. Artists in the archive

Location: Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, pl. Szczepański 3a

3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Vibrant sources, rapid rivers: How to evolve under the influence of others, while not losing oneself (lectures and discussion)

Location: The Ethnographic Museum, pl. Wolnica 1

 

 

11:30 a.m. Artists in the archive

A tour of the exhibition A New Region of the World with artist Brendan Fernandes, curators Olga Stanisławska and Anna Bargiel, as well as conference participants.

The tour will be in English.

Location: Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, pl. Szczepański 3a

 

3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Vibrant sources, rapid rivers: How to evolve under the influence of others, while not losing oneself (lectures and discussion)

3:10 p.m. Welcoming of guests: Antoni Bartosz (Director, Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow),  Jeremy Wallace (Chargé d’affaires ad interim, Canadian Embassy in Warsaw) and Magdalena Ziółkowska (Director, Bunkier Sztuki Gallery)

3:20 p.m. Brendan Fernandes, visual artist participating in the exhibition A New Region of the World

4:00 p.m. Peter Kulchyski (Department of Native Studies, University of Manitoba), Jessica Jacobson-Konefall (University of Toronto)

4:40 p.m. – Andrzej Dybczak, Grażyna Kubica-Heller, Jacek Kukuczka (Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow / Jagiellonian University)

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. A discussion with Brendan Fernandes, Peter Kulchyski, Jessica Jacobson-Konefall and César Carillo Trueby; moderated by Magdalena Zych

Location: The Ethnographic Museum, pl. Wolnica 1

 

About the participants:

Anthropologist and curator César Carillo Trueba was the organiser of a pioneering exhibition spotlighting racism in Mexico (Imagenes para ver-te. Una exhibición del racismo en México, Museo de la Ciudad de México, 2015; http://www.exhibirelracismo.mx/). His work was a practical test examining the possibility of re-interpreting the museum’s collections, making use of its colonial acquisitions in new contexts and finding new, active societal roles for the museum. In the process, the institution has become a contractor of new art works entering into dialogue with objects from the collection.

Margot Sputo is a Polish-French visual artist. She is the author of objects, installations, and photographs. She lives and works in Paris and Krakow. In her pieces, she explores the boundaries of representability, the means of perception, and the affect of photography.

In the exhibition A New Region of the World, Canadian artist Brendan Fernandes (born in Kenya to a family who comes from Goa, India) presents his video Foe in which he embarks upon reflections on categories such as authenticity or belongingness. Fernandes inquires into new meanings that museum collections can take on and the possibilities of creatively appropriating them. The artist himself uses them to pose questions about his own complex biography. At the same time, the border between life and the museum gets effaced as the latter collides with the former.

Peter Kulchyski studies the problems associated with articulating the rights of Canada’s indigenous peoples, as well as the issue of cultural legacy – material and immaterial. He finds inspiration in the ideas of Edouard Glissant. He heads the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.

Jessica Jacobson-Konefall is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Post-Doctoral Fellow based at the University of Toronto who works in the fields of art history, new media, indigenous and eco art with a special attention to settler colonial cultural relations in Canada.

Ethnologist, writer and documentary film director Andrej Dybczak belongs to a team working on reinterpreting the Siberian collection at the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow, a collection comprised of over 350 unique objects which represent the indigenous cultures of Siberia. Fieldwork in places where these objects come from is part of their project. In what way can the voices of today’s inhabitants of those lands widen our perspective on the collection and its history connected with the Russian expansion in Siberia?

Custodian of The Ethnographic Museum in Krakow, Jacek Kukuczka is an ethnologist, curator and the author of many award-winning exhibitions and publications associated with ethnographic collections which mainly come from non-European societies. He is presently involved in work to reinterpret the museum’s Siberian collection by heading field and archival research. The collection contains over 350 unique objects representing the indigenous cultures of Siberia.

Coming from Cieszyn Silesia, Grażyna Kubica-Heller is a social anthropologist, writer and lecturer at Jagiellonian University. She helps run the work being done by a team at the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow which is reinterpreting the Siberian collection at the museum (a team headed by Andrzej Dybczak, Jacek Kukuczka and Magdalena Zych). Her field of wide-ranging interests include critiquing sources, while aiming to renew perspectives and ways of generating knowledge by incorporating a diversity of perspectives.

Magdalena Zych is a cultural anthropologist and curator at the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow. Among her responsibilities is coordinating research projects at the museum. She is the co-author and co-editor of the books dzieło-działka [piece-plot] (2012) and Wesela 21 [Wedding Party 21] (2015). She is working on her doctoral dissertation about contemporary ethnographic collections at Jagiellonian University’s Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology.

Olga Stanisławska is a reportage writer and essayist, whose works have appeared in Gazeta Wyborcza, Tygodnik Powszechny, Polityka, Konteksty and Widok. She writes about the dilemmas faced by multicultural societies about the relations to the “Other” in Europe and outside of Europe. her book Rondo de Gaulle’a [de Gaulle Roundabout] (2001) won the Kościelski Award. She is the author of the idea and co-curator (with Anna Bargiel) of the exhibition A New Region of the World in Bunkier Sztuki Gallery. She lives in Paris.

Anna Bargiel is an educator and curator associated with Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Krakow. Recently she curated the exhibitions A New Region of the World (with Olga Stanisławska, 2017); Snakes, Daggers, and Rose Petals (with Jakub Woynarowski, 2016); I Think You’re Weird and I Really Like You (2015); Potlatch (2015); et. al. She conceived of Bunkier Sztuki Little Club and edits books for children which have been published in the Little Club series. Together with Jakub Woynarowski and Mateusz Okoński, she launched the Small Institute of Polish Illustration.

 

Admission is free for all events.

Talks and discussion will be in English and in Spanish.

The organisers will arrange for Polish translations.

 

Honorary patronage: Embassy of Mexico in Poland, Canadian Embassy in Warsaw

 

Media patrons of the exhibition A New Region of the World: Czas Kultury, NN6T, Szum, Tygodnik Powszechny, and Local Life

Media patrons of the Gallery: Le Monde Diplomatique, Herito, Lounge, and Radio Kraków

Media patrons of the Ethnographic Museum: miastodzieci.pl, Radio Kraków