KRAKERS Cracow Art Week 20198-15.04.2019IDEA

The month of April 2020 was supposed to be the time when, as always, we wanted to invite people to discover the artistic side of Cracow together. Back then nobody expected that the epidemic will be with us for so long and will impact our lives so heavily so our plans and our programme had to change, just as they did for many other projects. They had to evolve and find a new form for themselves.

The Team of the East of Art Foundation and all associated people did their best to make sure that Cracow Art Week KRAKERS, however changed and postponed, will take place. This platform for communication, education, information and promotion, the meeting point for independent art and the citizens of Cracow won’t disappear, it will only be modified to meet the requirements introduced with the epidemic.

We have invited private galleries, foundations, associations, public institutions, informal groups and initiatives to take part in the ‘City’ and ‘Laboratory’ sections of the Cracow Art Week KRAKERS. For the whole duration of the event, there will be exhibitions taking place in the spaces belonging to entities cooperating with us. This year, in order to ensure safety of the organizers and visitors we are substituting a schedule of openings and events with an offer of permanent hours of gallery availability. Besides that, KRAKERS consists of meetings with artists and art collectors, discussions, curatorial tours and workshops – during this edition some of them will be held simultaneously on site and online, as video streams and recordings. The guided tours along Cracow’s galleries and studios know under the name of Kultour will also be held in a new, safer form.

This year’s Art Week is held under the motto ‘Art – an open concept’, which is a sentence that is gaining new meaning in the context of our current reality. Having experienced the lockdown and social distancing, the organizers of Cracow Art Week KRAKERS are making sure that the exchange of thought and ideas is being kept alive and release ourselves from all the news, statistics and prognostics. We do not forget about the artists and art enthusiasts in Cracow and we are working hard to provide everyone with a possibility to get in touch with art creators.

We are wondering which institutions and galleries we want to visit and how they should evolve to attract the most publicity. Unlike traditional museums many cultural institutions nowadays accomodate multiple different groups and events – book clubs, meetings with activists, seminars and even club music parties, and it seems that artists are welcoming these changes with enthusiasm, sometimes even encouraging them. They cooperate with scientists, socially excluded people, school youth, church choirs or seniors. Sometimes these cooperations would result in ‘anti-art’ being created, but most of them lead to some sorts of works of art which, through unusual contexts gain unusual functions and meanings.

Art’s susceptibility to redefining and moving from one context to another provoked researchers to consider the term ‘art’ as an open concept, based on the terminology created by Ludwig Wittgenstein. According to him, an open concept is an idea that connects loosely items that don’t have clear common characteristics, instead showing what Wittgenstein called ‘familiarities’. There is no way to list characteristics needed to form a clear definition.

Wittgenstein’s approach was, and still is, often criticized by those believing in the timeless essence of art, due to the fact that it said everything can potentially be called art. In reality this radical relativism, according to which we don’t need a definition of art at all, isn’t as popular as some people fear. Even Arthur Danto, one of the biggest eulogists of nominalism in western humanism, attempted to create a universal definition of creation. Stephen Wright, a Canadian theorist, formed a theory of the utility of art. His theory doesn’t stray too far from nominalism, as the author remains faithful to the opinion that everything can be made art through the causative act of naming, however it shifts the balance quite significantly. Wright isn’t interested in the ‘stretchiness’ of the notion of art, but rather the fact that people keep trying to define it, investing time, energy and emotions, sometimes even considering those investments profitable. Wright suggests that we shouldn’t, while reflecting on art, ignore the intentions, values and thoughts of various ‘users’ of art who are not questioning its existence.

During this year’s edition of KRAKERS we are suggesting to think about the contexts in which art is useful as ‘something more’ or ‘something different’ than just an object of aesthetic contemplation. ‘Useful’ not in the meaning of vulgar utilitarianism, subjection to One Right Ideology, also not a simple synonym of ‘effectiveness’ especially if we understand the latter as a direct result of the artist’s action. Usefulness isn’t a direct influence, but rather a matter mediation of various communities gathering around art, values and sensitivities cultivated consciously, different concepts of culture illustrated and supported by art. Nothing is useful by itself, but always for something or someone. To whom, to what and why is art useful? These are the questions asked by KRAKERS under the motto ‘Art – an open concept’