9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 POSTER SESSION Building II, C6.08

Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw or keeping up with Europe

This paper will focus on the problem of planned Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw that is going to be built in the very heart of the Polish capital with an intention to modify the image of the city and to create its new international icon. This controversial and already famous investment, to a large extent inspired by the spectacular examples of Western European museums and the dream of "Bilbao effect" will be made in the historically specific area, strongly marked by the times of communism: the Museum will replace the old bazaars on Defilad square and will stand next to the Palace of Culture and Science (Pacac Kultury i Nauki) ? today's inglorious symbols of Warsaw.

First of all, the project, being a part of gentrification process of the capital's center raises such problematic issues as: will the new museum, pretending to the role of a European institution, be capable of dealing with the space so largely marked by the Polish nation's history, especially with the Palace of Culture and Science? And then, does the victorious project of Christian Kerez have the potential to create a new public space (Chantal Mouffe), open to the citizens and to the fluctuation of thoughts, ideas, values, identities and meanings or is its hermetic, modernistic architecture going to create another closed, exclusive space (Michel Foucault)?

Even more importantly, the analysis of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw will be the starting point for the reflection on how such an object, strongly entangled in power relations, conflicts of interests, ideologies and imagologies (Mark C. Taylor, Esa Saarinen) reveals the Polish desire to transform the image of post-communist city and country into the Western European ones. This reflection will lead to inquire to what extent this desire seems to be realizable and whose really dream it is. Finally, it will try to place those issues in the debate on the specificity of today's Polish identity in the context of uniting European society, simultaneously inquiring about the role of the nation state in today's museums' narration or in the new museology practices. (Mieke Bal, Victoria Newhouse)