Pyotr Pavlensky, Seam, 2012, photographic documentation of event in public space, courtesy P. Pavlensky
Politics in Art
Apr 28, 2022 – Feb 26, 2023
Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow
Krakow, Poland

In the past, art served the purpose of bolstering political power – today it is a tool for questioning and holding authority to account. Once, artists used their talent to support the political system of the day. Today, they have become perspicacious and critical observers of the political scene and are active participants in opposition.

The relationship between politics and art goes back a long way. For centuries, religion was part of the arrangement; for rulers and politicians it was the means of gaining control over hearts and minds. In some countries religion continues to back politics, with a doubly demoralizing effect.

The exhibition Politics in Art presents – in six sections – the skeptical and critical approach of contemporary artists to the actions of those in power, exposing the artifice and mendacity of political strategies. It demonstrates that in the name of ambition, the desire to remain in power and the feeding of the dictatorial ego, politicians are capable of lying, manipulation and murder. Artists oppose this, both as critics and as soldiers.

–Opposition and Protest – artistic manifestation of social and political views, and opposition to unethical behavior of those in power. In extreme situations – such as the war in Ukraine – artists join in the fight.
–Subverting Systems and Borders – questioning existing divisions and proposing – often utopian – ideas for political change and revolution.
–Democracy and Its Corruption – identifying the ideal political model, realized through civil liberty and the right to vote, while pointing out its distortions.
–Nationalism – warning against the reprehensible conviction that the assumed superiority of one’s own nation justifies contempt for and aggression towards others.
European Union – concern for the stability of the European Community in the era of migration, Brexit and the imperialist military aggression of Russia.
–Political Mediality – exposing the role of the mass media in shaping political views, and their potential for the manipulation of information. Protest against muzzling of the media.

Politics in Art is the 10th exhibition in the flagship MOCAK series, in which we combine art with the most important civilizational concepts. Each exhibition presents a variety of artistic interpretations of a given theme. Politics in Art has been confronted with a tragic time when political ambitions have turned into a crime.

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