<p>Allan Sekula, <em>Alle Menschen werden Schwestern</em>, poster prepared for the G8 Heiligendamm, Germany protest rally in 2007; later that year the image was produced for documenta 12 as a billboard to greet travelers outside Kassel's railway station. Courtesy Allan Sekula Studio.</p>
<p>Allan Sekula, <em>Alle Menschen werden Schwestern</em>, poster prepared for the G8 Heiligendamm, Germany protest rally in 2007; later that year the image was produced for documenta 12 as a billboard to greet travelers outside Kassel's railway station. Courtesy Allan Sekula Studio.</p>

No. 20: Demusealisation

Managing editor: Iwona Kurz

Allan Sekula, Alle Menschen werden Schwestern, poster prepared for the G8 Heiligendamm, Germany protest rally in 2007; later that year the image was produced for documenta 12 as a billboard to greet travelers outside Kassel's railway station. Courtesy Allan Sekula Studio.

This issue was supported by the Polish Minister of Science and Higher Education, from the funds of the program for the popularization of scholarship in 2017, and by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, from the Fund for the Promotion of Culture.

Table of Contents


  1. Demusealisation

    ”Demusealisation”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/demusealisation


  1. Opróżnić muzeum, zdekolonizować sylabus, otworzyć teorię

    Nicolas Mirzoeff, ”Opróżnić muzeum”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/oproznic-muzeum-zdekolonizowac-sylabus-otworzyc-teorie

    Polish translation of “Empty the Museum, Decolonize the Curriculum, Open Theory”, first published in The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics 53 (2017), 6–22. The editors extend their gratitude to the author for permission to translate the essay.

    The essay addresses the question of a possible “space of appearance” in the nationalist authoritarian system introduced as a result of Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump. For those working in higher education and related areas, the author suggests the following steps: decolonization of curricula, emptying museums and opening of theories. Each of these categories is rooted in historical resistance and liberation movements, on the one hand, and still alive in the contemporary movements mentioned in the article, such as the South African Rhodes Must Fall, Occupy Wall Street and the Free University and Anti-University.

  2. Art as an Agent of Modernization: Władysław Strzemiński’s Double Politics of Social Change, the Museum, and Artistic Culture

    Tomasz Załuski, ”Art as an Agent of Modernization”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/art-as-an-agent-of-modernization

    The avant-garde has been often considered as an attempt to integrate art with the praxis of everyday life and as an enterprise of designing the social change and creating visions of the new man, new culture and new society. This has led to interpreting the avant-garde as a radical but also – utopian artistic and cultural movement. Less often, even nowadays, the avant-garde is described and defined in terms of necessity and capability of creating new circumstances for radical artistic and socio-political ideas to get culturally enrooted, socially legitimised, and politically implemented. In order to create these appropriate circumstances, the avant-garde had to be able to function and perform efficiently within the real conditions of a particular time and place. It is here that the so-called “utopism” of the avant-garde got replaced by or at least supplemented with its operativity, good judgement and effectivity, enterprising spirit and resourcefulness – that is with its ability, sometimes highly developed, to self-organise and self-institutionalise in the public sphere.

    The article focuses on artistic and organisational practices of Polish constructivist artist Władysław Strzemiński, especially on his expanded idea of art as an agent of cultural and social modernisation. The author shows how in Strzemiński's case the modernisation imperative translated into what can be called a “double politics”. Strzemiński's successful attempt at creating the International Collection of Modern Art, which later became the basis of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź as a museum of the avant-garde, is briefly situated in this context. The point is to show what role the collection, deposited in a municipal museum in Łódź and made accessible to the general public, was to play in the artist's overall modernisation politics. In the second part of the article, the author reflects on the possibility of repurposing and updating the idea of the “Museum of Artistic Culture” as an institution capable of providing a relevant and responsible answer to the avant-garde's ethos and heritage of modernisation. It is done with reference to the project entitled The Effectivity of Art, organised by himself on the invitation from the Muzeum Sztuki in the years 2012-2014. It is one of the projects through which the institution has been trying to work with and re-work this modernisation heritage of the avant-garde in the sphere of contemporary artistic and activist practices.

  3. Institutional Experiments: Progressive Responses to the Dissolution of Autonomous Art

    Kuba Szreder, ”Institutional Experiments”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/institutional-experiments

    The paper discusses radicalised forms of new institutionalism in the field of contemporary visual arts, which has emerged since 2010. The text focuses on case studies of European institutions associated in the international coalition L’internationale, to analyse how those institutions bend conventions of the modernist institution of art. The article argues that the institutions analysed move beyond the conceptual divisions embedded in modernism, such as distinction between high art and popular creativity, or between use value and aesthetical value of art. In this way, radical institutions respond to the transformation of both function and understanding of contemporary art, prompted by economic and social incorporation of artistic activities. The text discusses progressive institutional models of museums 3.0, the neoliberal museums of 1% and the nationalist museums, as contradictory responses to the underlying, structural tension, caused by the dissolution of the modernist frame of art.


  1. “If there’s a staircase, you obviously need a banister”

    Jacek Świdziński, Magdalena Komornicka, ”“If there’s a staircase, you obviously need a banister””, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/if-theres-a-staircase-you-obviously-need-a-banister

    Comic strip inspired by the preparations to the exhibition “Plac Małachowskiego 3”, curator: Magdalena Komornicka, Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw June 18th – September 30th, 2018.

  2. Heritage

    Karol Radziszewski, Michał Grzegorzek et al., ”Heritage”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/heritage

    The seventh edition of the queer festival Pomada titled “Sex, Lies, and Videotapes,” as well as the main festival exhibition titled “Heritage,” took place between September 29 and October 1, 2017. 
    The festival was organized by: Michał Grzegorzek, Aleksandra Knychalska, Joanna Manecka, Karol Radziszewski, and Justyna Sobolak. 
    Michał Grzegorzek, Karol Radziszewski and Wojciech Szymański curated the “Heritage” exhibition, which took place in the Czesław Miłosz room of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.

  3. Meddling with the Past

    Magda Szcześniak, ”Meddling with the Past”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/meddling-with-the-past

    An analysis of the 7th edition of the Polish queer festival Pomada devoted to non-normative pasts and queer archives.

  4. Ursus. Symphony of a Factory

    Jaśmina Wójcik, ”Ursus. Symphony of a Factory”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/ursus.-symphony-of-a-factory

    The presentation retraces the process that led up to Symphony of the Ursus Factory (2018), an experimental documentary dedicated to the historical tractor factory. The film’s creators invited the plant’s ex-employees – workers, technologists, managers, secretaries – to take part in a project to once more bring the factory back to life. With sounds and body memory, they re-enact one day of work in a plant that no longer exists.The resulting symphony consists of the choreographed movements of the workers as well as of the technical, administrative and managerial staff, accompanied by the recreated phonosphere of the heavy industry. The film is the last episode in the seven-year-long engagement of the film’s director, Jaśmina Wójcik, in both the space and the social fabric of Ursus.

  5. A Symphony from Remnants

    Marta Madejska, ”A Symphony from Remnants”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/a-symphony-from-remnants

    Tracing the history of the “Ursus” Tractor Works, the essay contextualizes the film Symphony of the Ursus Factory (2018) by Jaśmina Wójcik, a sensual reconstruction of the experiences of the factory's workers and the culmination of the artist's seven-year artistic, activist, and research activities on site.


  1. Enlightenment, or Here and Now

    Tomasz Szerszeń, Łukasz Ronduda, ”Enlightenment, or Here and Now”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/oswiecenie-czyli-tu-i-teraz

    The exhibition "What is the Enlightenment?" (Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, May 18th - June 17th 2018, curated by Goshka Macuga, Łukasz Ronduda, Tomasz Szerszeń) was prepared in a very specific moment, when - due to the crisis of democracy, and a broader "crisis of the values of the Enlightenment" - the problem of the legacy of the Enlightenment reappeared as a central one. The exhibition was created as a dialogue between historical works from the collection of Stanisław August Poniatowski and their contemporary replicas problematizing the identity of both institutions. On the one hand, it is meant to reread the canon of the Cabinet of Drawings' collection, on the other - it continues the reflection on modernity initiated in the Museum of Modern Art focusing on the origins of Modern Era. The article is a statement of the curators and a summary of the main topics of the exhibition.

  2. Machine for Working with the Imagination

    Joanna Sokołowska, ”Machine for Working with the Imagination”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/maszyna-do-pracy-z-wyobraznia

    The article is a form of a curatorial guide to the exhibition All Men Become Sisters, at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. The exhibition offered a genealogy and manifestation of sisterhood in art from the late 1960s to the present day. Setting forth from its critique of the exploitation of women by the patriarchy, sisterhood poses questions about future social and economic relations in a world-ecological perspective.

  3. Curatorial Collective: Hacking the Museum – Opening the Academy

    Roma Sendyka, Iwona Kurz, ”Hacking the Museum”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/hacking-the-museum

    An interview with Roma Sendyka (Jagiellonian University) about the activities of the Curatorial Collective.

  4. "museum” in quotes

    Mateusz Falkowski, Marek Sobczyk et al., ”"museum” in quotes”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/muzeum-w-cudzyslowie

    A conversation between Marek Sobczyk, Mateusz Falkowski, Piotr Rypson and Hanna Wróblewska about the project and the book "museum” in quotes. Artistic Bookshop, Zachęta – National Art Gallery, May 18, 2018


  1. Aesthetics and Anaesthetics: Walter Benjamin's Artwork Essay Reconsidered

    Susan Buck-Morss, ”Aesthetics and Anaesthetics”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/estetyka-i-anestetyka

    The article analyzes in detail the famous Walter Benjamin's essay on the artwork in the era of its reproducibility. The author explores not only various sources of its inspiration but also presents contemporary examples documenting the depth and actuality of Benjamin's reflections.

  2. “But all this ‘heroism’ is a lie. Horror is the reality” – “War Against War!” by Ernst Friedrich as a Montage

    Marta Maliszewska, ”“War Against War!” by Ernst Friedrich as a Montage”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/wojna-wojnie-ernsta-friedricha-jako-montaz

    In this paper I will analyse book by Ernst Friedrich War Against War!. Referring mainly to Georges Didi-Huberman. Jacques Rancière and Paul de Man, I present it as a montage of ironical and pedagogical character. The album was, I think, an attempt to build alternative narration about the Great War, that was to contest the myth of the Field of Honour. Friedrich tried to replace it with the call for Man and Love, so he did not abandon the mythologization of the world. Although this is a reason of his defeat, his strategy still enables the deconstruction of the predominant images of the war. Thus, despite it has been almost hundred years since War Against War! was first published, issues which are shown in it still remains accurate.

  3. A Monument for Future Memory: The Ringelblum Archive as a Classical Archive

    Ernst van Alphen, ”A Monument for Future Memory”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2018/20-demusealization/a-monument-for-future-memory

    The author analyzes the Ringelblum archive as a counter force, that challenges other historical narratives, especially the dominant ones. Ringelblum's archive is read as a model for cultural resistance, successfully creating the conditions for a productive memorialization of Polish Jewry, based on their own sources. The author faces the following questions: What is it in this archive that enables it to function as resistance? The fact that Jewish instead of German sources were collected by Ringelblum does not seem to be a guarantee. Because it is not only what is being stored in the archive that matters, but also how that archive is being organized. In other words, what is it in this archive that enables us in the present to have memories of the Holocaust past that differ, and are in that sense counter-, from the prevalent narratives about that past?

  4. Hospitable Objects

    Agata Zborowska, ”Hospitable Objects”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/goscinne-przedmioty

    The article analyses images of new territories annexed by Poland after the World War II. So called Recovered Territories were frequently represented as terra nullius – a land abandoned by Germans and open to new settlers. The image of emptiness in social imaginary was gradually supplied by other images. The category of “hospitable things” – that were open, and waiting to be taking care of – play the key role in this process.


  1. Frictions. On Gdynia Emigration Museum

    Małgorzata Litwinowcz-Droździel, ”Frictions. On Gdynia Emigration Museum”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/poruszenia.-o-gdynskim-muzeum-emigracji

    Analysis of the permanent exhibition of the Emigration Museum in Gdynia, with particular stress on the peasants' history and their representation in the Museum.

  2. Between the Materiality of Things and the Image of the City

    Maria Wiśniewska, ”Between the Materiality of Things and the Image of the City”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/miedzy-materialnoscia-rzeczy-a-obrazem-miasta

    A critical analysis of the newly opened permanent exhibition at the Muzeum Warszawy [Museum of Warsaw].

  3. Cabinets of Fugitive Things

    Agata Zborowska, ”Cabinets of Fugitive Things”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/gabinety-nieuchwytnych-rzeczy

    Review of the permanent exhibition "The Things of Warsaw" in Museum of Warsaw, curator team led by Jarosław Trybuś.

  4. Nekros. An Onthology of Dead (Male) Body

    Andrzej Marzec, ”Nekros. An Onthology of Dead (Male) Body”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 20 (2018), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2018/20-odmuzealnienie/nekros.-ontologia-martwego-meskiego-ciala

    Review of Ewa Domańska's Nekros. An Onthology of the Dead Body (2017).