Gdansk, November 2017

Masterclasses: Does art make cities better?


Does art make cities better?
Open lectures organized by LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art
19-20 October 2017
Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk

The question of public art has been the subject of a long-standing debate. In recent years, there have been some dynamic changes in this area, which shifted the focus to social relationships, or the so-called participation, ecology or sociology of buildings. One of the projects conducted by LAZNIA CCA is the Outdoor Gallery of the City of Gdansk ( Following many years of cooperation with artists, curators and municipal institutions, we are not afraid to draw conclusions and ask further questions. Art in the urban space is important for many reasons. We attach particular weight to its rehabilitation, educational and integrating aspects. During two days of lectures organized as part of the “Artecitya” project with experts in public art, we focused on analyzing whether art indeed improves cities, what actions in this area proved to be good practices and what risks, and when, public art may pose.









Photos: Adam Bogdan


Detailed program of the lectures

Jacek Dominiczak: “City, architecture, art – negotiation or dialogue?”

There is an obvious and age-old relationship between the architecture of a city and its buildings and art. What changes are the definitions of these disciplines. What is more, these various definitions are related to the cultural prototypes of the author figure. How do these changes affect the relationship between the city, its buildings and its art? Do they require negotiation, do they build a dialogue? How do they ultimately influence the quality of the city?  

Jacek Dominiczak is an architect, urban planner, researcher and academic lecturer. He is the author of the Dialogical City theory and the practical method of designing it based on his original formula of the City’s Local Identity Code. He has worked in the US, Mexico, Portugal and Australia. He designed the interior of the ŁAŹNIA 2 Centre for Contemporary Art in the Nowy Port district of Gdańsk (2012). Since 2005, he has been a member of the international Gdańsk Outdoor Gallery team associated with Łaźnia CCA, which deals with public art. He is a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, where he heads the Urban Interior Design Workshop dedicated to studies on the potential of Dialogical Architecture and City.



Julia Draganović: Turing the city into an exhibition space – creating communities for museum: Roxy in the Box. In and out at Kunsthalle Osnabrück. A Case Study.

How do exhibition centers reach out to new audiences? How can city districts which are far away from the local art scene benefit from art? The Neapolitan artist Roxy in the Box has conceived a project in her hometown Napoli (Italy) which she tries out in other cities as well. “in and out” connects exhibition centers with those communities which are not necessarily educated in art history and are up to discover how art can improve everyday life.

Julia Draganović is a contemporary art curator whose work is focused on artistic strategies associated with public art, socially involved practices and new media art. She has a doctoral degree. She has curated exhibitions in Germany, Italy, Spain, the US and Taiwan, including Bologna Art First (2010–12) exhibition projects and Art Miami (since 2009). Draganovic is a member of the Gdańsk Outdoor Gallery jury, the board of New York’s No Longer Empty organization and the Mudam Luxembourg Academic Committee. As one of the founders of the curatorial collective and contemporary art platform LaRete Art Projects, she is responsible for the International Award for Participatory Art established by the Legislative Assembly of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. She has worked, among others, as the Artistic Director of the Chelsea Art Museum (New York, 2005–6) and PAN Palazzo delle Arti Napoli (2007–9). Since November 2013, she has been the Director of Kunsthalle Osnabrück in Germany.



Enrico Lunghi: “How contemporary art can stimulate the awareness of (changing) urban space and history”

The city of Luxembourg developed itself dramatically in the last 30 years. From a rather small provincial city it became in less than one generation a cosmopolitan urban center which condensates the major issues of the future cities in the world. In the last decade, several art projects dealt with some of these issues (“Sous les ponts, le long de la rivière…” in 2001 and 2004, “Lady Luxembourg of Sanja Ivekovic”, as well as the art on the Plateau du Kirchberg), trying to have a closer, critical (and sometimes humorous) look on the present situation and the consequences the occurring rapid changes will bring.
Enrico Lunghi was born in Luxembourg, Enrico Lunghi studied Art History and History at the Université des Sciences Humaines in Strasbourg. He was assistant at the National museum of history and art, than artistic director of Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain from 1996 until 2008. From 2009 until 2016, he was general director of Mudam. He was curator for the Grand Duchy at the Venice biennial in 1995 (Potemkin Lock of Bert Theis), in 1999 (Chewing and Folding Projectsof Simone Decker) and in 2007 (Endless Lust of Jill Mercedes). He was president of IKT (international association of curators of contemporary art) from 2006 until 2011. He currently works for the Ministry of Education and the University of Luxembourg.  



Mirosław Duchowski: “Does art make contemporary cities better?”

Art is a natural ingredient of the urban ecosystem. But how could we describe the contemporary global city? We know that it undergoes incessant transformations. What is at the root of changes in urban societies? The lecture will attempt to describe examples of urban art and its social influence as well as indicate some noticeable trends and intuitions related to the future, such as ecology or participation.

Mirosław Duchowski is a painter and designer of public spaces. He is a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities. He combines his artistic practice with project work as well as academic and research activity concerning public spaces. He has had a number of solo exhibitions, is the author of around 100 projects on art and the public space, regularly publishes academic texts and participates in various symposiums, conferences and research projects on art and broadly understood cultural studies. A significant example of Duchowski’s actions in the public space are his projects and realizations created since the mid-1990s, related to the construction of the Warsaw underground.



Mathilde Billet: “Bellastock: from audience to users”

Bellastock is an association of experimental architecture whose aim is to valorize urban areas and suggest alternative solutions to traditional construction and structural ones.  In its practice, it places considerable emphasis on ecology, processing and reusing materials, sharing knowledge and practices, including social integration. Bellastock cooperates with French and international schools, companies, public institutions and organizations involved in various projects for the development of cities and regions. Bellastock was founded in 2006 by students, and now graduates of the Belleville School of Architecture, in an attempt to make up for the lack of practical experience in the curriculum.  To this end, they organized a festival of architecture whose objective was to create an experimental, ephemeral city.  Today, the association has 8 employees and unites hundreds of active volunteers.

Mathilde Billet, Architect, graduate from ENSA Paris La Val-de-Seine in 2009. She joined Bellastock after working 7 years in french architecture offices, like 2,3,4 or Encore Heureux studio where she worked as the project manager for their Circular Pavillion. She is now part of the research and development team of Bellastock as an expert in reusing building materials process. The past two years she also led a project in the city of Stains, at the crossroads of experimental architecture, social empowerment and cultural programing. Furthermore, Mathilde always had a particular relationship to art through the question of the moving bodys in space, as she is a dance performer and a yoga teacher.



Elżbieta Jabłońska: “Urban adorations. Secondary events in time and space. Subjective reflections on public art in the context of artistic actions”

How do artists perceive cities? How do they move within the space? What do they experience and what are they looking for? According to what rules do they develop their collections of acquired events, images and sounds? In spite of its pulsating, dynamic mobility, the public space, and the urban space in particular, keeps offering us undeveloped gaps. These, in turn, serve as the incentive/inspiration/impulse for art. The order of events is hardly foreseeable. Sometimes its main aim is to fill the void, at other times, to modify the existing situation or to resign, constructively refrain from doing something or limit oneself. Acting in a specific time, assigned to a certain place, we play out a blend of secondary parts. Of more or less important manifestations that may sometimes be completely unnoticeable. It’s not easy in the urban conglomerate. Used to incessant scanning, we constantly need new experiences and stimuli. Our glance sweeps the surrounding reality, merely approximating the core. Do we fulfil expectations?

Elżbieta Jabłońska studied at Faculty of Fine Arts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. Since 1996, she has worked at its Drawing Department, where she teaches mixed media drawing. She has taken part in many solo and collective exhibitions. Her work includes long-term actions based on cooperation with cultural institutions and the audience, projects activating various communities, curatorial actions as well as performances and spatiotemporal actions.



Piotr Czyż: “Does the city need art or does art need the city?”

The lecture will be devoted to the presence of art in the public space and its tangible effect on the life of its inhabitants. Is each artistic intervention meant to influence its audience or could it sometimes merely serve as the embodiment of private artistic ambitions of its author, who pays no attention to the viewer? During the lecture, we will look for criteria of assessing such phenomena and seek out their sources in contemporary culture.

Piotr Czyż is an architect, philosopher and lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture of the Gdańsk University of Technology. His academic interests include the social role of architecture and the cultural base of modernism and postmodernism. He has consulted numerous workshops in Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia and taken part in a number of urban initiatives. He is the co-founder and chairman of the Inicjatywa Miasto association. He rides a Dutch bike.

Project partner: Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk