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  • Writer's picturePatrycja Wojciechowska


Updated: May 22, 2022

The 1st time I collaborated with the Biennale Warszawa,

I presented it as an example of alternative take on activist activity. The reason behind my decision was the Biennale's unapologetic, and very unusual in the art world, stand for political and social change. To me, the BW with its structure built on an ongoing process, where exhibition is more of an anchoring point and an opportunity to revise a certain phase of research than final goal, has certainly a liminal, undefined character. Working in transdisciplinary manner, on cross-section of art and cultural organisation and community of like-minded individuals, the Biennale alludes classification. It continuously changes, while it’s experimenting, testing, trying out and actively building a dynamic network of partnerships and collaborations. It works from the position on boundaries, gaps, through unmeasurable differences. Biennale Warszawa is an organisation committed to change, where values of solidarity, democracy and progress are explored through the method of working that stretches across different fields and practices.

This expansion is in a sense embedded within the very identity of BW. Now, the Biennale has taken a step further and while preparing for its Second Edition and fighting battles of their own facing increasingly difficult political situation in Poland; the team together with Ocalenie Foundation, transformed their headquarters into the Reception Point, where refugees from Ukraine have a place to stay and feel safe. This evolving, changing and undefined nature put together with an uncompromising position of (and on) truth (artistic, social and political) makes Biennale Warszawa an experiment, a rare call to multifaceted collaborative action, a testing ground, and live community.

As the crisis across the Polish border unfolded, it has become obvious that the Biennale Warszawa is the perfect first entry in this project. The organisation’s uncompromising acts of commitment to search for a different face of a cultural institution that it does not attempt to pretend neutrality, feel timely and important. BW takes a stand, working through a network of collaborations,alliances and partnerships creating assemblages, clusters of assemblages and so on. It moves across disciplines, blurring boundaries between fields, working continuously with editions acting as extensions or summaries of the 2-year programme, points of pause, and opportunities to present findings to the public and recess the progress made.

Fluid, difficult to pinpoint, working through continuous transformation, open change and to be changed, Biennale Warszawa resides in the realm of smallest difference. In fact, it refuses to be defined presenting at each turn a different aspect, another face as if it was a series of constantly emerging manifestations. All created in collective effort. WB has the courage to be always in a state of becoming, never settling on being complete.


The objectives of practice.

Ever since our first collaboration I wanted the opportunity to discuss your approach to the notion of practice. The way I think about it is that there are many practices and many ways of practising things. Practice has a rhythm of production, of daily action, it’s both participation and contribution. One can even say that the experience of being a member of society itself is a form of practice. That our daily routines and rituals are a way of practising life .I really want to focus in this conversation on ways of practice, on how do you see it as a part of a community and larger social body? My inquiry comes from the position of looking at cultural programming as a way of creating a collective, a creative body and way of working.

DISCRETE LIFE OF INFRATHIN: Starting with the original objectives and aims of the Biennale, I wanted to speak of reflections on your achievements so far. The objectives with which you have begun, clearly define the Biennale's Warszawa identity as the entity positioned outside the broadly accepted model of how cultural organisation is expected to be structured and function. Now, in the context of this spring’s events together with the current situation in Poland, you have taken another step further. I would like to discuss your achievements up to date and the future of the Second Edition of the Biennale in the light of these circumstances.

BARTOSZ FRACKOWIAK: We are doing everything to make sure the Second Edition goes ahead, but this context is of course very strong. We are trying at the moment to look at our programme with this in mind and see what could we add, alter, and how to make it more relevant. And so far we are succeeding. The large part of the original programming was conceived as a form of investigation focusing on the notion of authoritarianism. And undeniably it is very easy to see what is happening now in Ukraine as an example of authoritarianism at work.

PAWEŁ WODZIŃSKI: Of course there are other challenges. We are working with Ukrainian director Oleksiy Radinsky who remains there and by not being in Kiev, but in a different city, he is unable to complete the work in its originally planned shape. By now, we already know the work will look different, perhaps making it even more poignant. And in a more general way,

the whole programme is moving away from our original postulate. At this moment we are trying to preserve something, while looking at some things anew.

You know, I have this impression that from the beginning of the pandemic, nothing has happened,nothing was completed as we had planned. Every event had to be somehow modified. Because of the pandemic. Because of the political situation in the country. Now, because of war. It's the sensation of ongoing instability during these two and half years of work. We opened an exhibition. We closed the exhibition after 5 days. We opened it again. Instead of an exhibition in the gallery, we downloaded documentation online. Instead of programming in space, we digitised the programming. So nothing turned up really as we imagined it and planned.

DLoI: I completely agree with you. I do have to say that at the same time,I have this feeling that despite how difficult it was and how difficult it still is, this ongoing prerogative of continuous change, frequently made at the last moment, often successfully initiates certain type of active and responsive relationship with what happens around: and therefore, is positive in a way. It challenges the established character and identity of things, institutions and practices. You have to continuously change. Or more to the point, you have to allow yourself to be changed by this external force. So, it’s about being receptive and open, about responsiveness. In the case of the WB, with this very fluid approach to identity, it becomes really interesting, because it resulted in the Biennale coming into being even more of its own evolved self than it originally was.


Social change and political stand.

I want to touch on the concept of cultural organisation taking political and/or social stands. Across your activities you look at different scales in terms of impact and time, with help establishing connections and intersecting relationships of almost exclusively small units. Simultaneous transdisciplinarity and research are your staple characteristics. You work across disciplines, you emphasise research along events and exhibitions/presentations. I think the result is the creation of a community. Perhaps that's where the social change, maybe on a smaller, more of a micro-scale, actually has happened. So working outside of the box ended up in working outside of clear borders, and therefore restrictions.

ANNA GALAS-KOSIL: As I think of your questions, I have a sensation that there is a common thread underlying all topics you propose, which I read as probing the nature of the concept we created. And this regardless if itis as now, under the auspices of a municipal institution, which has its own formatted legal conditionings, or not. We are talking about details of a certain idea, a formula, a model conceived four and a half years ago, tested and subjected to constant transformation. In truth, ideas, networks and relationships, which emerged as consequences of the Biennale's activities, still function and will perpetually evolve. I am talking about various alliances and partnerships,for example East Europe Biennal Alliance, which works in a different mode from that of classical. But I think that we have all reached a point where it became obvious that the type of institution and programming we have tried to build is not convenient for certain accepted and promoted formulas of cultural bodies. I speak here of a very broadly understood bureaucracy and dominant framework encasing modes of communication between institution and governing body.

DLoI: Undeniably what you propose, goes against this strongly defined bymodernism, model of experience of art solidified in a space of White Cube, which is exclusively understood as purposely apolitical. Of course this model has met with extensive criticism over the years and manifested in a whole plethora of activities, which however rarely go truly outside the model and methodology they criticise. And especially one, under the auspices of a governing body.

I personally believe that this declaration of culture and art as apolitical, is in a sense, a strategy of power, an act of seizing agency. Order to remove political content is a taking away position of participation in socio-political debate positioned in the field of art. And again, especially from the position of public organisation.

Establishment of apolitical and neutral field as a rule, takes away the potential of it being an arena of debate and instrument of social change. Political and neutralised model takes away from people, who function in this space regardless whoever it is, curator, artist, critic or viewer, of the emergence of such a situation as social or political commentary. Any form of manifest is deemed inappropriate. Certainly cultural organisations or institutions are seen as they should not express political or social views.

BW from the very beginning stated that you absolutely disagree with this system. You express an ambition for cultural organisations to function differently. Because society and politics are part of the culture. And it is such a strong decision to go against it and reclaim the arts as a field of political debate, social change and agency. Especially since you have your dependencies, commitments and largely understood framework bound to the governing body. My questions originate somewhere in this moment. They are concerned with the notion of collectives, with the way you collaborate as a team. Further, you also are positioned in the larger collective with all your partners. As Ania said, all alliances, activists, collaborators, Warsavians themselves. In truth each of these groups of relations form a small collective. Which form a larger network of collectives. In some sense it is an expanding network.

And in a way a predominant model of cultural experience, is a manifestation and a tool of control and discipline. You know how you are supposed to enter the gallery, how are you expected to move across the exhibition, how to behave. Everything is clearly defined. The Biennale possesses much larger fluidity when it comes to acceptance of incorporating various methods of working.

PW: I see a great value in our work and from all the projects I have been involved in the last few years, I think the Biennale has been so far the most interesting. If we are to address the subject of depoliticisation of art of which youspoke of, there are many things intertwined of course. As you mentioned, the heritage of modernism has its importance, but there is also the importance of the system under which we have been functioning in Poland for the past 30 years and elsewhere around 40. I mean by this, the kind of ultra-liberal system which depoliticised everything. System capable of depoliticising every area of life and changing it into place of making products, of commodifying all aspects of existence. It is also a significant factor that we have taken into consideration that many actions in the arts and culture are simply commodified or made marketable. And that this process of depoliticisation has also a very commercial aspect.

And I think that this is a state of living in falseness. We simply know that decisions which concern our lives and manner of living are strictly political. So by giving prominence to all depoliticised activities we lie to ourselves and create something of neutral falsity, because the world just doesn’t look like this. White Cube is not free of politics. It only pretends to be, often immobilising or neutralising certain fields to hide the fact that the decision-making process and the environment itself is fully politicised. I don’t think we ever had any illusions on the subject. Consequently as a result we allowed ourselves to perceive art and culture as one of the areas of the political field.

DLoI: This established model objectifies everyone and everything. Whilst entering the White Cube viewer becomes a unit, a single thing, an object which is disciplined, controlled and made to move in a choreographed way. Similarly, artwork itself is a commodity. Air of sanctity surrounding it is given precisely because of that. That it is a product. To be honest, I think objectification and commodification are at the core of this model of experience. What is unique in your decisions, is the open process and transparency of approach to methodology of programming. The program itself is open. It never really ends, it is never really completed. It has only stages, stops, points of revision. Each of these moments of pause give an opportunity to revalorise the experience and achievements to date and these concerning a specific topic. While never fully ending anything. As a matter of fact, each edition of Biennale Warszawa is such a stop of revalorisation. And then again, it carries on.

BF: From the beginning, the concept not only for programming, but also for the institution, the overall institutional model, has had very procesual character and did not claim in any way to pretend neutrality. Instead, it works through speaking up and taking clear stands. It is an attempt to do something in the arts and culture that is real; positioned from the worldview and state your beliefs openly: “I believe in such and such”. To take a stand. All of us are so used to speaking in mode of discourse, following different trends in critique and theory. We are great in perfecting and developing the language, in nuancing, in search for various meta-levels, deconstruction and so on. Whereas it is much more challenging to say for example: ‘We want this and that, Our causative efficiency is aimed to be in this field. We care about such and such. These are our values’. This is far more difficult, because the allure of discourse created by us vanishes in this scenario. This is far away from strictly art, because I believe art should have some of this discursive allure. Some of these travelling concepts, some of that language which accompanies it. There are moments when this language simply isn't there yet. Or it is not used purposefully. Precisely, because it takes us away from politics. So we are in this internal conflict with a critical perspective. From one side we are trying to uncover various things and use critical tools, and from the other, we also care very much to create programs, make propositions, take positions.

I think about these past few months, when we have been intensely working on the exhibition and public programming of the Second Edition of the the Biennale, war broke out and the team together with group of people,practically in few hours, altered our space at Marszałkowska Street in the Reception Point for refugees from Ukraine. On one hand this has nothing to do with the art, on the other hand I have this feeling that this was perhaps one of the most creative processes in which I took part in many years.

And I think of organisation of working systems, as the creation of community, relationships enacted in the framework of affect and sphere of emotion accompanying it, and it doesn’t differ so much from a situation in which we work on something from the field of arts. Simultaneously, I have a feeling that it has a very concrete, although limited in range, impact. The point is, it is our answer to a very real challenge tied up with the presence of refugees. For me, working across fields, these points of binding different dimensions and experiences, are extremely important. I think the institution has a value in this process and in a flexible way it is ready to respond and weave together many dimensions and layers.

Now, we have members of the art community who come, bring us supplies and campaign on our behalf to keep the reception point going. And it is in position at the centre of this practice and type of activity we decided to run.

AG-K: When it comes to the beginning and development of the biennale, I would point out that the the City of Warsaw Municipality and Culture Department at the time, created an Open Call, which was a reaction to what Pawel just described. I mean by this, a certain insufficiency of cultural institutions in the shape in which they functioned at the time and actually function now. It feels important to say that this was a unique gesture, with an announcement of Open Call specifying the requirement of interdisciplinarity. And more importantly, where interdisciplinarity was to be employed in search for the space where certain elements connect. However generally it was outlined in the Open Call, it is important to point out its presence. I don't think it would happen today. It was a special moment which led the municipality and Culture Department to post such an advert and have such an initiative approved.


Transdisciplinarity. Cross-field ways of working.

Warsaw Biennale itself is an open-ended, processual institution with a very clearly defined trans-disciplinary method of working. From the very beginning you worked through a growing network of partnerships, which the same as your events, actions and projects, moved beyond the field of the arts. It is interesting how this unfolded over time and editions, and on the overall notion of working on long time scale and open-ended projects.

DLoI: Your relations both with viewers, and those invited to participate: organisations, various practitioners, creatives and researchers are horizontal in nature. This is the level and method of equality, whereas a model art and culture institution works vertically, through very hierarchical actions not only behind closed doors, but in reality all over. The entire structure is built around it.

You, on the other hand, function a little bit like mycelium; spreading, sending signals and incorporating environments and habitats into the network. When it comes to methodology of work, this approach to the discipline; through building connections, making contacts and collaboration with people and so on, is very horizontal, very egalitarian.A flat structure that has an underlying goal of creating a collective. This collective acts on a bigger scale than the institution itself and art-cultural experience. As Bartek said at some point, Ukrainian refugees arrived, have been staying in the space and sleeping there, and in some ways this was a creative and cultural move. One is enclosed in another and I have this impression that this is probably the only right direction to take.

PW: This egalitarian building of collectives, this call to collective action. It requires what Ania was describing, trust. And our space helps with it, but also what helps is transdisciplinarity. It helps that we define ourselves as not limited to functions of art. We take a standpoint that there are many disciplines, with art being only one of them. There is also theory, there is also research, social practice and so on. And all are equal. And this strengthens trust placed in us. If people know we work from the position that art is on the same level as social practices or political activism, then they know we will not capitalise our (and theirs collaborative) efforts in the field of art. It means this will not be atypical process of taking over social practice by art and incorporating it in aesthetics, claiming it by the field. We make sure that what we create today together with social actors, practitioners, activists is not capitalised by the art world in some other way. And we achieved that by our way of working. If we act transdisciplinary, it does not happen.

We worked for this trust; making sure it’s established with social organisations and groups, people who are serious about their goals and impact of their work. Gaining it was not a quick process. We had to convince collaborating institutions that we are trustworthy partners, that we will not take advantage of produced knowledge for our own purposes. For example, projects focusing on migration-related topics have been part of the Biennale from the very beginning. Some, like Bartek’s project ‘Modern Slavery’, were truly challenging both in regards to protagonists and their histories. When working on such projects one has to be very open and at the same time restrained when it comes to working with the material. These are stories of people, often full of violence and pain. When one operates in this activist-political-social space, one learns humility and a different approach to their own activities.


Community and partnerships. Multiplicity of collectives. Multiple ways of collaboration.

You work through partnerships and collaborations initiating emergence of community, a community understood in larger terms, of collaborators and participating practitioners, people who are engaged in work with you, activists, partners and practitioners, Warsavians, refugees you are housing. I consider it a methodology of and through practice. I wanted to discuss this network that you have been creating as a call to collective action, where community is a building block.

DLoI: I sometimes think of consideration of art as a form of experimental activity alternative to scientific paradigm. As a result the primary importance of success and necessity of final positive outcome ceases to exist, as the most important is experimentation and search for new ways and new formulas, the process itself. The Biennale reaches moments of culmination, but whilst they are beginnings of other threads of work, they are in fact already another stage. Working in such a manner is a more dynamic way and attitude to the process and completion, regardless whatever it is a project or a formula.

PW: Bartek presented the method of working.I will try to name it. We aim to test ‘an activist paradigm’ (a working term we use) embedded in an institutional framework and applied to transdisciplinary practice. Our work is rooted in daily action, achieving something small every day, something that gives us a chance to move forward, whatever it is, discursive or practical. In a single act for someone, on behalf of someone, against something; in the creation of models, creation of something concrete.

This strategy originated in looking at Poland as a pretty particular country. Poland is more a collection of individuals than a collective. Throughout many years we have learned to function partly because of the necessity of self-sufficiency, alone and it manifests in the form ofcomplete atomisation and fragmentation of the social environment. Some critics speak of social Darwinism, where everyone fights for themselves and everyone is focused on their own values. It's not so visible in thecurrent situation with a massive wave of altruistic help and support for Ukrainians. However, until this moment I was convinced that Polish society was predominantly set on individual goals and objectives, that this collective aspect, this focus on social action barely ever manifested, emerging only for short moments only to disappear again.

So our activist workings or to say it differently, our action aimed at building of common relations, results from the need to find alternative ways of communication with people, in search for ways to build alliances, with assumption that there aren’t that many of these people and environments around we cannot limit ourselves to only the arts.

At the end of the day activists, researchers, academia or social groups or part of the public speaks of the same values. So your commitment to build alliances emerged from attempts to project different proposals for reality, where elements of collaboration, of relation are far more important than successful realisation of one's own individual interests and this approach moves onto our practice. We function in this slightly commercialised, focused on individual success as a goal, surroundings. In response, we try to find alternatives to this state of things, contest this model and build completely different relationships and in conjunction with this, a different model of working.

AG-K: I would also like to add that the Reception Point was made possible to be opened, due to trust and the establishment of certain truth with people who supported us in this moment of emergency. But our space, the way it is, helped too. What we managed to create out of the place where the Biennale is located, put together with the way it is visually accessible from the street, somehow helps. It helps that this is a place of truth, regardless how idealistic or romantic it may sound. It is a space of culture and art, but is also an imperfect space, which gives an opportunity to build the right environment accessible to people from different fields, for example, activists who wouldn't have to feel compelled to follow rules of conduct which dominate traditional art spaces.

When you speak of the power of apolicality, I have a feeling that our actions, strategies and spacial setting provided us with enormous help, making possible entering more democratic and horizontal relations with people who wanted to work together on new emergencies. After these four and a half years we established this community of people and organisations who support us in creation and running of the Reception Point, who brings us supplies and campaign to help us.

DLoI: I wanted to discuss your work through alliances and various types of partnerships and collaborations, regardless of whether it is an individual artist or organisation or activist. They all come and are incorporated in a network created by the Biennale and further on, they become a part of a larger network, one which grows out of its activities. What struck me the most was that you create this network from predominantly small bodies and connections.

I recall Anna Tsing and her use of the category of assemblage, which I believe lies at the foundations of the structure of the Biennale’s Warszawa network and it is an assemblage of small bodies. The Biennale itself is a small organisation with a tight team. And equally all the satellites who work with you in various ways, are small too. And the network simply stretches on.

Coming back to what Pawel said about commodification and commercialisation of things, when everything becomes a capital or it is valued only as long as it presents a potential of capital creation, small entities are not really dominated this much by this drive. They are only people or artists or communities.

BF: I think assemblage is a great metaphor. Assemblages contain different ranges, which contain different statuses and characters. Process which Pawel describes contains trust, building relations with organisations we work with and so on. I see it as a plethora of individual, personal relations and processes in which we are and which make up the whole, and they are all anchoring points for the assemblage. Assemblage which contains different practices and fields in which we are active. And when I think about experiences of these last months; work on the exhibition on technology, extractivism and authoritarianism in the strangest way mixes with the reality of war. For example work of Olek Rawinski which concerns gas lines and pipeline ‘Freedom’, Russian cyber system, which lies somewhere at the roots of infrastructure and now this infrastructure starts to take on a different meaning in the context of war. I think of a book by Swietłana Matwijenko ‘Cyberwar’. The book, from 2019, now re-actualises in this strange way, almost as if a new enactment.

We originally collaborated with the Kyiv Biennal in 2021 around key ideas of alliance and two days after the beginning of the war we spoke about tactic and bulletproof vests and were trying to organise them for territorial defence in Kiev. This is truly very strange and in essence, one of the consecutive stages of the same process. Process which is bound by co-creation, co-thinking, and co-building of different situations. And at the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether these situations have a strictly artistic character and fit in the frame prescribed by White Cube, were defined by performative gestures coming from artistic situations, or whatever these are situations emerged from completely different order. In some way, they are part of the same assemblage or the same process in which we function and act. There would not be cooperation on the reception point with the Ocalenie Foundation without previous engagement on action at the Polish-Belarus border. And this form of causality defines our methodology.

Our foundational objective was that we wanted to be an institution which works in fields of art, activism and theory (& research). We defined these three fields as primary areas of activity. We stated that these three fields are bound to weave in, influence and empower one another. Each project aims to have all three elements in different ratios, but still all three. Fun of working on such programming and institution is that things can bind together and we don’t have to look for distinctive differences or disciplinary definition of borders. We can purposely blur the boundaries and not care whether something is more this or that. And in truth, this is its power.

What you are saying, is taking another step further. It is a form of radicalisation of this initial thought and recognition that in fact things tangle and programming of such an institution is a form of attention turned onto the process; what weaves into such assemblage, what doesn’t, and what to want in this arrangement and what not to want.

I keep thinking about assemblages and how Anna Tsing uses notion in an ecological sense

but also as founded in planetary perspective. It connects various localities with a planetary perspective where things have different manifestations and different connections with different ecological, social, political and economic contexts. I truly consider this a characteristic of our institution, where we always stressed the necessity to connect different localities but in planetary perspective, as the process necessary to see connections and see how motifs, objects, topics work, or different challenges. How they work in different geographies, in different places in the world, and to look for possible links even where they are being there purposely obscured or invisible.

Contrary to current projects (in Warsaw) focused on the microscale of more commodified locality and looking at it in isolation, we take decisive stand to see connections and building relations on planetary scale as necessary. Microscale is where the process of fetishisation as a result of something of a cultural product is being built and this all is justified by the idea of groundwork. But in truth, this perspective is significantly narrowed compared to what we propose. I especially think of the geopolitical situation in which we are at the moment, where searching for connections with situations which are happening elsewhere, and investigation into what we could do together, is joint action. It is crucial to look to other places elsewhere, to build knowledge out of connections and search for the links which connect all and allows us to inspire and be inspired, empower and be empowered to think of formulas of non-colonial and non-hierarchical solidarity.

DLoI: I find this micro isolationist take on locality to be, in truth, aveiled narrative of a wall.

You mentioned the truth a few times throughout this conversation. Planetary connections are definitely a process where fact and truth are methods of working. It often becomes clear how many natural habitats, species, migrations, how many capitals, interests and exploitations are entangled in a chain of events and causations. We need to look at global connections. Despite the size of the planet we are all connected.

BF: Yes absolutely. This thinking about localities is very close to our goals and mission. And it has always been a key concept , fundamental and crucial, even more so than transdisciplinarity. Transdisciplinarity is a consequence and resultant of this recognition. They are both entangled and it shows how false it is that localities exist in isolation. But in truth, it does not work like this. On Belarusian-Polish border, inthe surrounding woods we meet people from Yemen, Sudan, Cameroon, Iraq, Syria or Cuba. In places, which we can consider primarily part of the nature of Podlasie. They arrive from other places, where they suffered from other wars or persecutions and suddenly they land in Podlasie, in this very subjective perception of something that one could call a local locality. Overnight we have this very tangible, almost sensual experience of other localities’ intrusion and new entanglements emerge from this experience. The Reception Point is in a sense, continuation of this experience as it concerns other people from other border, in different forms of discrimination. It is not an obvious take on art institutions and it is visible that current political processes or decisions move in different direction, meaning narrowing of locality and resignation from trans-local or planetary dimension.

DLoI: I think that when it comes to your approach to art and creative activity, the way of working is similar to looking at culture not as provided experience and formula, but belief that it is what we all as society, co-create. As a collective effort, action in relation.

Ania, you spoke briefly on the Biennale's space. Of mental space, space between all collaborating partners and participants. But also, I think, of physical space, your office-gallery. Your observation on its openness as the quality was so accurate. The space is in the very centre of Warsaw. Fully visible from the street, with an open plan, it is so very horizontal and transparent. It is simultaneously a place of work, exhibition and event space. There is of course an additional layer in its history as it used to be a commercial site, designed as such and perhaps that is why it is so open and accessible. In a certain sense, this transparency combined with your methodology of working, is read a bit differently and I think this is very beautiful, this openness of space moved onto openness of working, on ways of interaction.

AG-K: Originally the institution had no space, just a small office. So finding the headquarters was one of the first challenges of our emerging institution. First events happened in a small building at Mokotowska Street and that’s where the first discursive and research projects began. Later, our current site has become available. I really believe that physical space is extremely important and its impact has weighed on how our activities evolved together with the emergence of trust and truth in the process.

I like to believe we changed a bit the map of cool places and topography of Warsaw by entering the area between Constitution Square and Saviour Square, which used to be this little bit of a dead spot. Shortly after us, more galleries opened nearby. Accepting it as it was, with its horizontal identity, we didn’t really change much in the space. It specially worked for activist purposes as a space that was easily entered, where people could go in and interact on an equal level. I believe that the opening of the Reception Point mirrors the space and its character, that the great strength of this site is that this is the space which easily transforms. It can house an exhibition, event, performance or forum, where academic researchers and farmers who came for Convention of Women Farmers felt equally at home and now it very quickly changed into space for refugees.

DLoI: Along with the transdisciplinary methodology and horizontal exchanges, equality is embedded in your way of working. You employ the notion of forum, a form of interaction constructed around equal level, cross-section between democracy and political debate as a model, put together with exchange of research and open-ended processes as operating systems. I think of this triangle in your methodology where transdisciplinarity, democratic debate and collaboration are in horizontal spatial and mental reality. To me, the value in the forum concerns equality of voice.

PW: Forum is the completion of our concept, idea of equal relations. Even our conferences have the character of a forum. They also emerged on the foundation of discussion. Frankly, barely anything we do is a result of individual gestures. We use collaborative actions, actions of different groups with incorporation of institutions outside of the art world.

AG-K: Often it had a purpose of trying things out, checking if something was possible, as an opportunity to test various solutions.

BF: Testing occurs frequently, for example CWF. It was a meeting of women who have never met each other before, but all of them did similar things across the world. Fact that they manifested in the same space was a challenge and a quality. Marwa Arsanios developed the idea of this joint invitation when she realised that people in different parts of the world use similar language, that these are statements of similar groups or collectives who speak about the same things, but do not see each other and as a result they have a sense of isolation or functioning as singular voice.

Through a planetary approach you start to understand that there is political fellowship between these people. And it lasts as a different form of relation existing on various levels; like the assemblage we spoke of. It doesn’t have to look the same and it can emerge in different variants, taking on different forms. Depending on needs, depending on the attitude and activity of specific individuals or groups.

AG-K: Convention of Women Farmers concerned alternative ways of working to those of the food industry with its long chains of delivery. What we put in one space were small local initiatives which have connections, but without this event, without this forum, it would be much more difficult to notice them as they lack comparable capital. On the other hand without CWF, our next projects, the Permaculture and the whole project regarding the food industry, would not materialise. Now, for the Second Edition of the Biennale, discussion on precision farming and technology in farming would not occur either, if not for this ongoing character of open processuality.


Fluidity and the smallest difference.

You created this very fluid, undefiable identity for the Biennale Warszawa. So in a way you are immeasurable, the smallest difference. The Infrathin. And now, with a Reception Point at your headquarters and initiation of East Europe Alliance, you are extending the community around the Biennale and moving outside of the set of activities traditionally associated with art institutions taking it another step further.

DLoI: I began this project with very specific thinking of Infrathin, which is one of the most elusive, challenging and fascinating categories in art. Duchamp wrote only a few notes on the subject, but I do like this idea of category in art, category in life, category in state of existence, which refuses to have a definition. The artist himself stated clearly that Infrathin cannot be defined. It can only be explained by examples. And so, I started to think about Infrathin as a category which is bound to the smallest intangible difference, understood as the difference between one and another, which cannot be contained in numbers. It does not fit the scientific paradigm and in some ways, it is rooted in intuition. Infrathin is primarily felt. It is a process of experimentation alternative to the established measurable and verifiable methodology. Its disciplinary identity originates in another place. It is connected to specific fluidity. It’s undefiable.

I think that in general, transdisciplinary methodology certainly has this characteristic. I wanted to ask if you have thought of the Biennale in consideration of this very fluid identity? In a way of working where the smallest, impossible to define difference between one and another, becomes its driving force. Where rejection of category, of categorising in some way defines inscribing organisation in the narrative of the in-between. Consequently, Bienale Warszawa has become liminal.

PW: In response to this, I wanted to discuss the crisis in other disciplines. We are experiencing a crisis of academia and education forsure. It manifests through strategies of marketisation of everything, altering syllabus to fit some imagined or real needs of business on one hand and on the other, some visions of the utility of high education in the form of easily achieved benefits for recruitment opportunities. If you look at classic disciplines,they are all in crisis. We spoke already of art and culture and they both are losing their sharp external boundaries.

We are dealing with the phenomenon of ‘nebulisation’, of fogging or melting of edges of these disciplines, and simultaneously, the process of scattering. Our theoretical activities are good examples here, as for many people who do not fit in the academic world, our activity was a chance to move out of the confines of established regimes of knowledge whilst gaining a chance of performing a different model of knowledge production and distribution.

So it is a bit of a model acting as a response to the crisis of discipline, knowledge regimes collapse and lack of sense of stability. Because of its elasticity and through its ability to fit in different circumstances, our institution is a crisis institution. In understanding that institution, an institutional body is something which acts in timesof permanent crisis or crises; financial, economic, climate, social, political (in Poland), migration.So this not fully describable formula, formula of in-between, favours effectuality, activity in reality full of tensions, conflicts, unexpected twists, actions, violent breaks, or introduction of new elements almost day by day. So in a way this is a response to the reality in which we currently live.

DLoI: Nature of the assemblage is such that it changes. Assemblage is site specific, or perhaps, community specific. Throughout this entire conversation you often recalled the word ‘truth’, a notion which until recently was pretty much uncontested. There was truth or falsehood. Now we live in a world where truth has become a problematic idea of uncertain existence. Majority of people believe that their individual truth is absolute and can contest any truth regardless of its factuality. I speak of situations where emotions and individual convictions are mistaken for it. They are valued more than something that is verifiable. Notion of truth melted away. There is not absolute truth, but there is also not an accountable truth. There are many individual truths which very often contradict and contest one another. It is really difficult in this reality to stand by the truth as it was.

PW: I don’t know if we speak of the truth so frequently. You noticed it. What we undeniably notice, is the topic of individualisation, fragmentation of identity. We also notice these processes and attempt toinclude different perspectives in one action, which may serve as a test of possibilities of escaping this progressing fragmentation. If we think of global issues, for example economic processes of global character, even the most extreme individual cannot do anything about them. If negative, these processes can be stopped only in the framework of collective actions; through societies, through collective voice.

Our activities served as testing of new models of collectivity. We remember from times of PRL (Polish People's Republic) or so called State Socialism that this collectivity was often artificially imposed by an authoritarian state. It was an authoritarian product, where someone arbitrarily speaks for society. Supposedly we spoke of socialisation, but in truth, it was frequently staged. Afterwards, we experienced and are still experiencing individualistic approach. So now there is a question of how to think of progressive politics, how to think progressively about the world moving beyond on one hand, this imposed collectivity, this authoritative collectivity and on the other hand, this extreme individualism, extreme selfhood. So in this version we include all individual versions in the framework of jointly created reality that seemed the most sensible. In principle it seemed the only answer to the dilemma.

In such a way one can make agreements, create relations, and build alliances which could alter the course of politics. It was a question we were asking ourselves and answered pretty much solely by creating groundwork alliances or such alliances where everyone has an equal voice.

We want to rethink in what way to create collective projects so they could have a real driving force. This is extremely difficult from our perspective, such a small institution, it is just not feasible in a longer perspective, on a greater scale, but in the framework of testing or our sort of small scale activities, it is very possible to achieve.

BF: I would say these are a bit of prototypes. By this I mean that what we initiate is not always on assumption they have to work, be hyper effective and feasible long term and on a large scale. Our main goal is creation of such prototypes to act in the real world with real challenges.

Jonas Staal said once that the Biennale was an infrastructure creating or producing infrastructures. It is a bit like an institution or organisation which is creating or producing some forms of institutionalisation, or some forms of organisation, checking movement in various circumstances, in relation to different topics, testing how to do something. How not to restrict only to a solely small closed group focused on only a narrow section of reality.

DLoI: I really believe that in your case, it is less important if the creation of a collective lasts as one, same collective in the long term. It is more essential that the method of working is to think collectively. Consequently, emerging collectives will change or break apart, new will re-form and so on, but the way of collaborative action stays the same in principle as it is grounded in working together, based on thinking collectively.

As always, it has been a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for the great conversation.


Digital infrastructure and material objects of the Web, invisible and often overlooked in the conversation about technology; algorithms and artificial intelligence, considered by many to be neutral and objective, but in fact affecting all spheres of our lives; reactionary ideology and

conservative politics hidden in the modern garb of technological development – these are, among others, the themes around which the works of nearly thirty artists from around the world, which will be shown at the main exhibition, are centred. It is accompanied by a public program that

will include performative lectures, debates, workshops, presentations and seminars.

In the wake of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, works and speeches in which artists analyse authoritarian political practices made possible by new technologies that assume special significance. These practices are based on mass surveillance of citizens. They use artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics for political, military and economic violence purposes and for cyberterrorism. The situation in Ukraine has led us to work with the artists, researchers, and scholars participating in the Biennale Warszawa 2022 to create new exhibition and public program elements that will allow us to adequately address these themes.

The second edition of Biennale Warszawa entitled Seeing Stones and Spaces Beyond the Valley will be held at Wars Sawa Junior Department Stores in Warsaw, 104/122 Marszałkowska St. It will last from 3 June to 17 July, 2022.

Anna Galas-Kosil, curator, theatre studies expert, translator. She was involved in the preparation of the first Polish exhibit at the international exhibition of set design – The Prague Quadrennial of

Performance Design and Space in 2007, 2011 and 2015. She worked with Teatr Polski in Bydgoszcz, R@port Festival in Gdynia and Warszawskie Spotkania Teatralne. In 2015–2020 she was President of the international On The Move network involved in issues of mobility in the cultural sector. Until the end of 2017 she managed the department of international cooperation in the

Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute. From 2018 she curates the programme of the international Biennale Warszawa. Co-curator of the 1st and 2nd editions of the Biennale Warszawa.

Bartosz Frąckowiak, curator, director, culture researcher. Deputy Director of Biennale Warszawa. In 2014-2017 he was the Deputy Director of the Hieronim Konieczka Teatr Polski in Bydgoszcz and the curator of the International Festival of New Dramaturgies. Curator of the series of

performative lectures organised in cooperation with Fundacja Bęc Zmiana (2012). Theatre director, including “Komornicka. The Ostensible Biography” (2012); “In Desert and Wilderness. After Sienkiewicz and Others” by W.Szczawińska and B. Frąckowiak (2011); performative lecture “The Art of Being a Character” (2012), Agnieszka Jakimiak’s “Africa” (2014), Julia Holewińska’s “Borders” (2016), Natalia Fiedorczuk’s “Workplace” (2017) anddocumentary-investigative play “Modern Slavery” (2018). He published in various theatre and socio-cultural magazines, including “Autoportret”, “Dialog”, “Didaskalia”, “Political Critique”, and “Teatr”. Lecturer at SWPS University in Warsaw, co-curator of the 1st and 2nd editions of the Biennale Warszawa.

Paweł Wodziński, director, curator, director of the Biennale Warszawa. Founder and head of Towarzystwo Teatralne, an association formed to promote contemporary dramaturgy and socially engaged theatre. In 2000–2003 he was the Managing and Artistic Director of Teatr Polski in Poznań. In 2010 he became the programming director of the 5th International Festival

of Polish Contemporary Drama R@PORT in Gdynia. In 2014-2017 he was the Director of the Hieronim Konieczka Teatr Polski in Bydgoszcz and the curator of the International Festival of New Dramaturgies. Author of dozens of performances, including “Solidarity. Re-enactment” (2017),

“Solidarity. The New Project” (2017), “Global Civil War” (2018) and texts published in “Dwutygodnik,” “Dialog,” “Teatr” and the Polish edition of “Le Monde-diplomatique”. Lecturer at SWPS University in Warsaw, co-curator of the 1st and 2nd editions of the Biennale Warszawa.

*all photographs are from refugee Reception Point, Convention of Women Farmers with posters oft upcoming Second Edition

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