Poland decided to scrap its intended Venice Biennale pavilion. The reason for this is receiving complaints for its “anti-European” texting and mirroring the policies of the conservative government. Poland declared in October that Ignacy Czwartos will represent the country. He intended to display artworks depicting the nation as subjugated by Russia and Germany during the 20th century.
Poland Changes the Artist
However, the Open Group will symbolize the nation. Overall, this is a collective that includes Yuriy Biley, Pavlo Kovach, and Anton Varga. The Polish Ministry of Culture explained its choice in a press release. The decision came “after analyzing the competition procedures for the design as part of the 60th International Art Exhibition in Venice in 2024 and after getting acquainted with the opinions and voices of the communities”.
The organisation in charge of the exhibition will remain Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. Czwartos’ exhibit was to comprise more than 35 pieces. This includes Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel next to a swastika, as the original proposal outline showed.
The initiative received a lot of flak for mirroring the nationalist-populist views of the Law and Justice party. The party, referred to as PiS for short, ruled Poland from 2015 until just this month. Members of it seized command of the press and museums. Also, severely curtailed the rights of women and queer people.
Get the latest articles delivered to your inboxSign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter
An Anti-European Manifesto
Many predicted that the PiS would lose control before the Venice Biennale opened in April, following an October general election that favoured the opposition party. However, it wasn’t always certain if Czwartos’ pavilion would still happen. Joanna Warsza, a curator of the 2022 Polish Pavilion, spoke about Czwartos’ presentation in November, to the Guardian.
She said: “the end game of eight years of right-wing rule”. In that same report, Karolina Plinta, an editor of the art magazine Szum, called the exhibition “an anti-European manifesto”.
In an unusual move, the choice for the pavilion split its jury so severely that three of its members, including Warsza, were moved to issue a dissenting opinion on the matter. Few details were announced on Friday about the new pavilion by Open Group, other than that it will be titled “Repeat after me” and curated by Marta Czyż.