THE POLAND-U.S. ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE EXCHANGE PROGRAM
This new American/Polish residency exchange program is an initiative that perfectly embodies the Polish Cultural Institute’s mission of widening and securing a variety of forms of mutual cooperation in the arts between our two countries. It is in fact the first residency-oriented artists exchange program ever between Poland and the U.S. Its aim is the same in both directions: Poland’s contemporary art is as little known in the U.S. as America’s is in Poland. Apart from the sharing of talents with audiences and the broadening of cultural horizons, we strongly believe that artistic dialogue and cultural immersion – understood as the possibility of working in an unfamiliar cultural, social, and economic environment but also as a chance to interface with a foreign audience and to interact with one’s foreign counterparts – should serve as a rich catalyst for reflection and an exchange of ideas in the contemporary world. Hence, we are interested among other things in opening the exchange to a broad geographical representation of American participants.
The Polish Cultural Institute has placed Polish artists in individual American residencies in the past, but we always believed there was a need for a more extended on-going institutional collaboration that would provide the framework for a continuing mutual exchange of ideas. Such an exchange program became a real, practical possibility when the Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle
in Warsaw opened it’s A-I-R (Artists-in-Residence) program in the fall of 2003, with Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka as curator. A-I-R CCA provides two state-of-the-art studios and self-sustained living spaces, computer and editing equipment, curatorial and technical assistance, public presentation of the work, and a catalogue. CCA Ujazdowski Castle remains one of the most influential contemporary art institutions in Poland, and the only one with the capability of providing complex programming in all arts disciplines.
A-I-R has already developed a fruitful and successful collaboration with many European partners – both residency centers and foundations. In 2004 the Polish Cultural Institute initiated a program with A-I-R to establish – and secure for the longer term – such collaboration with American counterparts for the first time – the Poland-U.S. Artists-in-Residence Exchange Program. We are very pleased to be launching this exchange program with such distinguished partners as Headlands Center for the Arts
in Sausalito, California, and Spaces
in Cleveland, Ohio.
Our program is currently based on the two CCA A-I-R studios. But the CCA is expanding its facilities. Its old Laboratorium building will be totally renovated to provide 6 additional studios, a gallery, and a performing arts space. At the same time, ambitious plans have been developed for establishing a CCA-associated residency program: the Brok Center
on the Bug River in eastern Poland, an hour’s drive from Warsaw. The Brok Center will evolve architecturally from a 1624 tower that is the only remnant of a bishop’s palace, and will serve as the basis for a projected exhibition space and meeting venue. Studio and living facilities will be built nearby. The renovation and construction projects will run in tandem for completion in 2006/2007. The Brok Center, headed by artist Jaroslaw Kozakiewicz, will operate under the CCA umbrella and in direct cooperation with the A-I-R program in Warsaw. While A-I-R will provide artists with the advantages of the capital city, the Brok program will be focused more on outdoor or large-scale projects.
Pending the success of the 2005 one-year pilot program, the Polish Cultural Institute looks forward to a multi-year operation, and, working closely with CCA A-I-R and the Brok Center, as their expansion projects are completed, we can also look forward to an expanding exchange program.
Within the current framework of the POLAND-U.S. ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE EXCHANGE PROGRAM, CCA’s cooperation with Spaces in Cleveland, Ohio, and Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California, is generously sponsored by the Trust for Mutual Understanding; Narodowe Centrum Kultury / National Centre for Culture, Warsaw, Poland; and the Ohio Arts Council. Major support in this pilot year was also provided by the Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco.
The best expressions of gratitude to all these organizations for their active role in strengthening cultural ties between Poland and the U.S. will be the works of art, the artists’ friendships, and the broadening horizons that will emerge from this program for all its beneficiaries.