Politics seem inextricably mixed with the Polish art world, as shown by yet another controversy involving the contemporary art curator Anda Rottenberg. In May she resigned, under pressure from right-wing politicians, from the contemporary gallery Zacheta after two separate incidents in which art was vandalised (The Art Newspaper, No.110, January 2001. p.6 and No.112, March 2001, p.8). Now the Minister of Culture is withdrawing her brief to build a museum of contemporary art in Warsaw.
Ms Rottenberg is an internationally respected figure who has done much to promote contemporary art in Poland, and she had been a key figure in winning approval for the new museum, which was to be designed by Frank Gehry.
However the Minister of Culture Kazimierz Ujazdowski, has informed her that she will not be overseeing the project, which may not even go ahead now. The reason for the minister’s decision was Ms Rottenberg's public criticism of the selection committee for the new director of the Zacheta Gallery: she said that it included no gallery representatives and only one artist who had actually exhibited there (it consists of academics, artists and an ex-vice-Minister of Culture).Swirling around Warsaw are suspicions that the Minister of Culture has used this as a pretext, and the real reason is an attempt to bolster a declining political career. With elections looming later this year, an unsavoury aspect of whole affair has been the evocation of Ms Rottenberg’s Jewish origins, one of the reasons that forced her resignation from Zacheta.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Curator barred from project to build contemporary art museum'