PRINT May 2017

Monika Sosnowska


Poland is the future: The nationalist, extreme-right-wing Law and Justice Party swept to power there in October 2015, giving the rest of the world a glimpse of what happens when contemporary populism engulfs a nation and takes hold. This shift announced a crack in the postwar liberal European order, and the results have been as swift as they are terrifying: authoritarian efforts to rewrite the constitution, a draconian attempt to curtail reproductive rights, and the radical defunding of the arts. In this way, Poland can be seen as both a case study and a warning—portending the dire conditions of culture in the age of ultranationalism.

In the pages that follow, Artforum invited a group of distinguished contributors to reflect on art in Warsaw in this political climate. Joanna Mytkowska, director of the city’s Museum of Modern Art, examines the state of the capital’s cultural institutions; curator Natalia Sielewicz writes about advertising, propaganda, and spectacle in Warsaw’s urban spaces; and critic Anna Kats weighs in on architecture and the built environment under siege. Finally, artists Agnieszka Kurant, Monika Sosnowska, Piotr Uklański, and Artur Żmijewski discuss the ways in which the city’s changed circumstances affect their ideas now.

Monika Sosnowska, Untitled, 2015, concrete, painted steel. Installation view, Foksal Gallery, Warsaw, 2016. Photo: Bartosz Górka.

I MOVED TO WARSAW IN 2000. Since then, the city has undergone a radical transformation. I have followed those changes through its architecture, walking around the city and taking hundreds of photographs of urban space, much of which no longer exists or was rebuilt. One can learn a lot about political and social change through the disappearance of buildings. My sculptures derive from those shifts.

Monika Sosnowska is an artist based in Warsaw.