Po polsku


The Impossible Collection 2021 – Nomus Is Reflected in a Shattered Mirror
The appearance of a collection is a painstaking and unpredictable process because
its assumed goals and areas to which it directs its attention are constantly being revised.
What seems the most important is the adoption of a “non-market” stance of collected
works which means such a selection of art pieces which does not converge with options
and trends imposed by the art market. For all the years we have been active, we have
been convicted of the necessity to build alternative sets of values in art. The evaluation of
a work of art by means of financial tools seems to be too omnipotent and it occupies our
imagination, paralysing our decisions on finding different tools for evaluation. Slavoj
Žižek describes the relations between products of culture with horrifying brutality
which, however, perversely only reinforce our determination not to reproduce
such mechanisms.
With the turn to third sector economies (services, cultural goods) — Žižek
emphasises (note by G.K.) — that culture is becoming less and less a specific
sphere excluded from the market, but instead, not only one of the spheres of the
market but even its centrepiece (from the industry of entertainment software to
other media productions). This short clash between art and culture embraces the
decline of the old, modernist avant-garde logic of provocation and the shocking of
the establishment. Today, the cultural-economical apparatus itself must not only
be more and more tolerant but even directly provoke ever more shocking effects
and products if it wants to reproduce itself under the conditions of market
competition. 1
Art as a luxury good which is extravagantly shocking is a tempting object of
desire. However, we do not desire to feed our imagination on it, nor does it
promise us anything which we might find inspiring in the future. The results of
artists’ efforts, emerging from their actions, not focused only on market or media
success, have become the fuel for acting and creating the relations of experience
open to risk. This means not only material pieces of art but also ephemeral
experience which we “have” in the form of documents and other records. What is
exceptionally important is the performative “content” in the form of dispersed
collections of images, subjectively glued into a whole by viewers-interactors. The
collection is orchestrated into thousands of amateur personal recordings and
photographs taken during a tour of the Subjective Bus Line 2 or the 15-year-long

Media><Narrations workshops in the now non-existent Modelarnia [Mock-Up
Hall] 3 on the premises of the former Gdańsk Shipyard. For more than 30 years,
Wyspa has “produced” images influencing our collective and individual
imagination, something like a vaccination shot immunising us against the
omnipotent spectacle of consumption. Quoting the pessimistic words of Guy
[…] The spectacle is not a collection of images but a social relation among
people, mediated by images. […] It is not an addition to the real world, an
attached decoration. It is the very core of irrealism of real society. In all of its
particular forms: information or propaganda, advertising or direct consumption of
entertainment, it is now the model of socially dominating life. 4

The commodification of an artist’s expression and their need for
insubordination and creative independence is the biggest challenge for both art
institutions and artists themselves. This management of art production pushes
and distorts the sense of a creative act, making it similar to mass production for
the eye-level shelving, steered by class violence. This is capital that is not
symbolic but measurable with currency and tools of political pressure. We ask
ourselves the questions: Who collects art and why? What is the purpose of
collecting and classifying it? What becomes of these resources? A collection is
stocks, stocks are depots, warehouses, and, finally, archives — these accruing
methods of placing and locating works create unsettling obligations. States of
possession generate stages of personality — the transgression of the horizon of
the present. To use the thought of Arlette Farge:
[...] “The archive is not a warehouse which you can take out for pleasure —
it is a constant lack — sometimes even helplessness because you do not know
what to do with it. […] It is history in progress the outcome of which is never fully
graspable,” and she goes on to add: “The archive destroys ready-made
pictures”. 5
Does a collection — a sum of senses — destroy the currency of reading?
Does it protect us from haphazard judgements, intellectual fashions and tools
which get worn out? Whoever owns a collection wields power over the collective
imagination and symbolic space, controls memory and can freely construct it.
The idea of the Impossible Collection appeared in the now non-existent Wyspa
Institute of Art after its enforced closure in 2016 with the participation of the
authorities and the developer 6 ; in its place NOMUS was created — a branch of
the National Museum in Gdańsk, where a collection of contemporary art is being
created. The cannibalistic gesture of the state administration devouring an
independent organisation will certainly produce a new narration, create new
histories and delineate new maps of art.
So, let us see the country where dozens of small, alternative collections
operate, which can jointly face the dominance of centralised institutions —
museum corporations; this is the collection which we are trying to build.
Grzegorz Klaman , Gdańsk 2015-2021

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1 Slavoj Žižek, „Kruchy absolut”. Polish translation of “The Fragile Absolute” by Maciej Kropiwnicki, Warszawa,
Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, 2009, p. 34
2 Subjective Bus Line, Grzegorz Klaman (2002–2013) was a project in which former employees of the Gdańsk
Shipyard (Paweł Zińczuk, Jan Kryger, Roman Łopuchow, Małgorzata Mazur and others) offered guided tours on their
former work place, its economic, political and, above all, their personal, subjective history. Each time 33 passengers set
off on a journey in an old, “cucumber” bus Jelcz RTO from the historical gate in the vicinity of the Monument of
Fallen Shipyard Workers. The project of the Subjective Bus Line was a kind of a meeting thanks to the commitment of
people who were the witnesses of history, but who are less famous yet equally important. The project tried to bring out
the muffled voice, echoes, reflections, whispers, fragments of memories and relations and inscribe them in the current
situation and the space of the venue. The trip round the Shipyard lasted c. 90 minutes and ran along a route which
featured a selection of places related to the history of Solidarity and the Shipyard. Those were the places and events
jointly selected by the visitors and the “guide” who was giving tours on a given day. The bus would stop, among other

places, at Lech Walesa’s former workshop building, open for sight-seeing, the wall which Walesa jumped over,
slipways of the former Imperial Shipyard, the former Work Health &amp; Safety room, the U-boot hall, the former building
of the management board and a visit to an exhibition of contemporary art on show at the Wyspa Institute of Art.

3 On 26 June 2012, the Modelarnia was closed after 10 years of activity, a decision made by the owner of
the area Drewnica Development Co. Modelarnia was established in April 2002 on the premises of the
former Gdańsk Shipyard as a co-operative of artists and another type of activity of the Wyspa Progress
Foundation. Modelarnia adopted performative and collective activities as its strategy. It especially favoured
socially and politically committed art. It became a venue where artists not only created and exhibited their
art but also lived and treated as their natural environment. Initially it served mostly as a workshop and
warehouse but as time passed it became a venue for artistic events, workshops, lectures, concerts and
particularly artistic performances. Artists of the Modelarnia, acting in extreme conditions, fighting against
frost and continual lack of finances, worked out their own alternative economics which permitted them to
be self-sufficient. Source: the archive of the Wyspa Progress Foundation
4 Guy Debord, „Społeczeństwo spektaklu” and „Rozważania o społeczeństwie spektaklu” Polish translation
of “The Society of the Spectacle” and “Comments on the Society of the Spectacle” by Mateusz Kwaterko,
PIW, 2006

5 Arlette Farge, “Le Gout de l`archive”, Paris, Le Seuil, 1989, pp.10 and 135, after: Georges D. Huberman,
“Obrazy mimo wszystko”, TAiWPN Universitas, Kraków 2008, p. 16
6 On 6 October 2016, the Wyspa Progress Foundation was closed by decision of the then authorities of
Gdansk; the Wyspa Institute of Art vacated building 145B. The Foundation was not reimbursed for its
financial input into the revitalisation of the building, protecting the building against demolition. The
collection of books, archive and collection were dispersed to storehouses unsuitable for this purpose, which
resulted in the devastation and theft of some items. The artistic and intellectual capital of the Institute,
unique on an international scale, where more than 200 events had been organised, was the largest
representative of NGO activity in the sector of culture and art in Poland. The Institute held important
debates on the protection of industrial heritage. The premises of the former Gdańsk Shipyard, where the
Institute had its location, was often reflected in exhibitions which found a permanent place in both artistic
and cultural contexts, while the attempts to describe the political history of the shipyard using visual
language became a stimulus for a fresh look at its heritage which has not been properly worked on even to
this day.

© 2024 Wyspa Progress Foundation