The Project

Without doubt, 2020 will go down in history as an exceptional period. Some will remember it as a time of fear, isolation and stress, a time of lost work and income. There will also be others who found in the pandemic an opportunity to calm down, focus, and reflect on their fundamental values and goals. Whether you are experiencing the best or the worst moments of your life, one thing seems certain – this is a time of change.

From our earliest days, that is since 2018, we thought of the Kraków Art Salon primarily as a community project. The exhibition, the prizes, and the jury, composed of the luminaries of the world of culture and artists working in various fields, served to support the local community. That support came through building the visibility of visual arts as a field of culture, through the promotion of individual artists and their works, and through the promotion of the Kraków community as a whole. The Salon also tried to animate the local art market and activate city-forming processes in Kraków. We are not neglecting these goals either and we would like to return to them in future years, but we believe that 2020 calls for activities of a different kind. This why we have made the decision to call off the exhibition format and transfer the activities of the third edition of the Art Salon into a realm that may perhaps be less spectacular, but is currently exceptionally necessary.

In the two years of its existence, the Kraków Salon of Art has itself become known as a space for the integration and exchange of experience. Every year, around 500 artists applied to have their works exhibited, granting us their trust and believing that we know how to go beyond any generational, ideological or societal divisions. Participants in the Salon’s exhibitions were artists representing various approaches to art, various institutions, galleries, and interest groups. We believe that the openness and respect that we gave the artists who participated in this project will allow us to transform the 2020 edition of the Salon into a platform for supporting and aiding those representatives of the artistic world in Kraków who have been most affected by the current pandemic.

One of the tools we propose is the BROKEN PIECE OF MISERY COMPETITION that is addressed to freelancers, individuals working in the visual arts, and grassroots and privately-owned hubs where current art comes into existence and is shown to the public. The total prize fund is no less then PLN100,000. The competition is a part of the Kultura Odporna – Resilient Culture programme run by the Department of Culture and National Heritage of the Municipality of Kraków. The principles of the competition and the criteria of assessment are drawn up in the competition rules and regulations (link). You can find more information about the competition and answers to the question: “Why another competition, again?” in the Submissions tab (link).

What consequences will the current situation caused by the pandemic bring in in the area of culture? Answering this question surely calls for an insightful study analysing a wealth of complex data, but you don’t need to be a high-class analyst to note that the cancellation of most festivals, exhibitions, and cultural events in the city, the lockdown of institutions of culture and private galleries that has lasted for a number of months, and the suspension of operation of foundations and associations working in the fields of visual arts, affect individuals the most: artists, theoreticians, critics, and curators. Many of them are part of what is known as the precariat; people working mostly on short-term contracts, without regular sources of income or health and social insurance, people living from the sales of their works whether paintings, critical texts, or concepts. Their way of life is, to a great extent, forced by the way how the field of culture works these days, with its system of annual budgets, targeted grants, and low-salaried public institutions. They are the most vulnerable elements of the cultural ecosystem, and we believe that it is they who are in the greatest need of support during the pandemic and the crisis following in its wake. That is why they are the addressees of the prizes in the Person of the Year category.

Another group, a significant element of the Kraków visual arts community, are the private galleries and NGOs active in the field. To a large extent they also base their existence on target grants, volunteer work, and small-scale commercial activity. Kraków was the domain of small enterprises, especially artist-run galleries and spaces. For such enterprises and organisations, reducing their operation is often tantamount to their liquidation. And yet to a great extent, these enterprises are the culture-forming force of our city. That’s where young artists have their débuts. ’That’s who carries out research projects, initiates experimental activities, and provides the foundations for Kraków’s image as a city of culture. So it is for them that we have prepared prizes in Place of the Year category.

The prizes and beneficiaries of the competition will be selected and announced by the special COMMISSION FOR BREAKING SCENES OF MISERY, which is appointed for the first time as part of the Kraków Art Salon in 2020. Other than the role of the jury in this year’s Salon Competition, the commission represents and is the voice of the artistic circles working on the development of the city’s long-term strategy for cultural policy in visual arts. The commission will be composed of people representing various circles active in the visual arts in Kraków, and come from different generations and professions. More information about the composition and tasks of the commission are available on the subsite (link).

Not unlike in previous years, the Kraków Salon of Art 2020 has been developed in close dialogue with the Kraków Festival Office (KBF), a municipal institution of culture, and the Foundation – Artists – Innovation – Theory (F.A.I.T.), a non-governmental organisation that has been active in the local field of art for over 15 years. That cooperation allows us to take a closer look at the landscape of Kraków’s culture from various perspectives. It has made the Salon more sensitive, more open, and more friendly. In 2020, using the tools we have already developed, we are focusing on emergency help, while at the same time working out strategies for the future. For we believe that a crisis can be the beginning of a change for the better, and the partnerships and alliances formed over the past two years may provide a powerful foundation for the reliable and tangible proposals for Kraków in the field of cultural policy and strategy for the visual arts community.