9th Open City Festival of Art in Public Space
Estrangement – 
3-31 Oct 2017, Lublin, Poland

Curator: Aneta Szyłak

Estrangement is an exhibition in the urban space created in response to the collapse of the system of values that used to govern the relationships in the world as we knew it. Wars, disasters, humanitarian crises and aggressive global economy, all coupled together, have not only destroyed the natural resources that ensure the survival of humanity, but also depleted materials and visual resources allowing to describe this world in a credible way. We can neither touch it nor see it, although we constantly depict it.


The alphabet of available signs has been considerably used up, although we have photographed, filmed, digitized and localized nearly everything. Though we have managed to find various methods of labelling, documenting, scanning and collecting data, the world seems to slowly fade away; it is getting less and less perceptible as images lost their credibility and signs are no longer transparent. We have obtained information but failed to broaden knowledge.


Are we still going to comprehend the world we are not able to describe or experience anymore? Competencies of recipients, addicted and glued to displays and screens, to decipher more complex visual messages have dwindled. This image-induced illiteracy imposes the continued simplification of messages. With this exhibition, we invite artists to create artistic forms which offer neither categorization, systematization nor simplification, but rather try to answer the question: how, using visual representations, can we depict the world and its problems anew, that is to fulfil the fundamental mission of art.


This year artists will challenge the definition of art form. They have chosen unexpected objects, natural forms and forms based on their discoveries, occurrences and illusions. Estrangement is a project requesting a form that complies with the estrangement principle, that is going beyond popular interpretations of signs, and challenging all that has already been named and consolidated


Aneta Szyłak is a curator and writer, recently responsible for the making of NOMUS – New Art Museum in Gdansk. She previously worked as founding director of Wyspa Institute of Art (2004−2014) and Centre for Contemporary Art Łaźnia (1998−2001). Since 2010 she is also an artistic director of Alternativa – International Visual Arts Festival. Curated and co-curated exhibitions Damage and Loss (2016) Vernacularity (2015), What’s plain invites pattern (2015) Everydayness (2014), Hito Steyerl: Abstract (2014), Oliver Ressler: Political Imaginaries – Making the World Anew (2014), The Field is to the Sky, Only Backwards (2013), Materiality (2012), Buildings and Remnants (2012), Labour and Leisure (2011), Estrangement (2011, 2010). As curator, Szyłak worked closely with artists such as Hiwa K, Hito Steyerl, Oliver Ressler, Grzegorz Klaman and Ewa Partum. Curating context – the Palimpsest on the Quotidian and the Curatorial is her PhD project at Goldsmiths, London and University of Copenhagen.