VIII Festival of Art in Public Spaces

Open City 2016

Open City festival was created with a view to opening Lublin to the arts. The point of departure for the 8th iteration is the assumption that a city is a narration in itself as well as a meditation upon the narrative role played by the works created by the participating artists, for whom – for the duration of the entire project – the city will be kept wide open. 

The curatorial framework has been created knowingly, i.e. in full awareness of the fact that the Festival-specific “opening” takes place in a city that is neither “closed” nor averse to art. On the contrary, we are in a city that boasts unusually rich artistic heritage. Modern cultural life is inscribed on this inspiring historical context. There is an equally intimate and inextricable relationship between Lublin and the academic milieu as well as the creative sector. The city abounds in a dense network of art-oriented institutions. Due to their high-octane activities and innovative work methods, many of them have earned wide recognition that far exceeds the city limits.   

The rationale of the 2016 festival: a monument as an actor on the stage that is the public space. The institution of the monument is thus the key figure of the curatorial framework of its 8th iteration. As far as the modern European culture (be it Eastern or Western) is concerned, the monument belongs to the basic inventory of tools that fill in the physical urban frames with a symbolic content. Monuments are actors and actresses performing on the urban stage. They build the drama of urban architecture. They introduce into the space of the city a very specific set of characters, events and ideas – a collection creating representations of values with which the society is ready to identify. 

Monuments are catalysts of debates on imaginings and values that – as expressed by a diverse set of social groups – ought to be articulated and emphasised in the public space. The speech of monuments is erudite and intelligible and their language enables different actors and actresses of the social life to express themselves within the city limits. It is the authorities that also happen to be the initiators of the erection of monuments; still, individuals, organisations and citizens’ committees participate in the process as well. Artists usually play the role of performers of ideological programmes formulated by the funders of monuments. For the duration of the Open City Festival we will reverse this division of labour and bestow upon the participating artists a much needed sense of agency.

The Open City Festival boils down to among others sharing with artists the authority over the symbolic space of the city. During the 8th iteration of the Festival, the participating artists will make use of this authority, complementing the Lublin collection of monuments with a group of newly commissioned, temporary ones. 

Stach Szabłowski / Curator of Open City 2016 Festival