Interview: ‘Post-1989 changes were achieved also through the art’

Poland IN talked to Prof. Andrzej Szczerski, art historian from the Jagiellonian University of Kraków, about changes in Polish art after the transformation in 1989, new opportunities it acquired, problems it faces, and the role it plays in the country’s political life.

“Art should not be ideologised, should not be used for political aims as it was in the totalitarian states,” Mr Szczerski said. “But if you understand politics as a common ground for the whole society, then art is able to provide certain patterns, certain ideas, and ways of thinking.”

“It is where the political role of art is actually expected and is very important for society.”

Mr Szczerski also talked about his recently-published book, “Transformation”, which examines changes within the world of art after the fall of communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe.

The work distinguishes three most important areas of change in Polish art, Mr Szczerski said: an increased tackling of political issues, dealing with questions of memory and history, and confronting the paradoxes of the transformation.

“This mixture,” he said, “gives art after 1989 an incredible wealth, vitality, strength, and importance.”

What kind of problems does the memory of communism create for Polish art? To what extent can art stimulate changes in the region, both in the world of art and in politics? What could have happened to Polish art had communism remained in the country?

Click here to watch the full interview.