The exhibition was presented from 2nd to 23rd of July 2021 in Concordia Design Wrocław on Słodowa Island 7.
It has been the seventh edition of the Best Media Arts Graduation Projects Competition, organized jointly by the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław and the WRO Art Center. This year the competition exhibition, prepared in cooperation with Concordia Design Wrocław, took place within the framework of the Media Art Biennale WRO 2021 REVERSO. For the young participating artists it is a chance to present their works and for the audience to see them in the context of a major international event.
Every year the review of best bachelor’s and master’s theses takes place at eight state art academies in Poland: in Gdańsk, Katowice, Cracow, Łódź, Poznań, Szczecin, Warsaw and Wrocław, and the works for the competition exhibition in each academy are nominated by five-person committees.
In the history of the competition to date, the best diplomas have included video installations, computer animations, social media interferences, interactive and generative projects, audiovisual concerts, works on the borderline of bioart and neural networks, as well as performative activities using cosplay aesthetics and conventions of the gaming world, VR, 360° video or AI projects. Such diversity emphasizes the growing importance of technological tools within contemporary art and their role in shaping the reflection on the Now.
What dowe see this year? Certainly it’s another exciting and diverse set of proposals from young artists – a broad spectrum of strategies employingmedia-based tools in the field of art.This time the competition takes place under constraints of the pandemic, the diploma projects have been created and were presented (or couldn’t be presented in full) during these special times.
This year, as many as four awards were planned for the Competition: The Main Prize of PLN 15,000, funded by the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport, was awarded by an international jury of Ginan Seidl, Mindaugas Gapševičius and Stach Szabłowski. For the second time, the editors of “Contemporary Lynx” magazine awarded the selected artist with a portfolio publication and additional promotional activities. The audience was able to vote in the exhibition space, and that the viewers awarded their own, particularly valuable prize. A new feature was an award decided by the exhibition’s partner, the board of Concordia Design Wrocław.
Experience in working with graduates during the successive editions of the Competition will beared fruit this year in form of workshops on the professionalization of young artists, conducted by Magdalena Kreis and Adam Mazur.
On the last day of the exhibition ONLINE version of the exhibition was launched. It has been designed by Krystian Grzywacz, the winner of the Competition in 2017 (main prize, BA diploma, Gdańsk) and in 2020 (Contemporary Lynx prize, MA diploma, Wrocław).
Honorable mentions: Kamil Wesołowski, Olga Truszkowska
Jury: Ginan Seidl, Mindaugas Gapševičius, Stach Szabłowski
The Anthropocene, our cultures and subcultures come together in the ACCESS – REACTIONS / 7TH BEST MEDIA ARTS GRADUATION PROJECTS COMPETITION. All the works submitted for the competition deserve to be shown in the exhibition. This exhibition is already a success in terms of international visibility and the opportunity to share individual concerns and thoughts. We as a jury do not necessarily support the competition, especially in the field of art. Therefore, the decision making is always tough. All artists deserve to be mentioned and no one should be favored or considered not artistic enough. On the contrary, all works are worth discussing as they raise issues that are important for our society. Nevertheless, to make a step and to promote new artistic positions, we share our humble opinion.
This year’s award goes to the work that deals with exploitation and different ways of decision making. We, human beings exploit our nature including ourselves, fellow other species, and the Earth. On the other hand the work deals also with the, perhaps forgotten, ways of collaboration. As Long As The Canary Sings, We Are Safe is about sensing our planet Earth together with other species and sharing sensory perception with them.
We would also like to highlight two other pieces, LADY PLICA POLONICA and LIBERATOR, both of which encourage us to rethink our social relationships and build our society on the cultural foundations we are dealing with. While the LADY PLICA POLONICA proposes to rethink our gods, the LIBERATOR invites us to rethink the place of the institution we are dealing with. As we all build our future together, we should not forget that social or institutional critique is what drives us forward.
CONTEMPORARY LYNX MAGAZINE AWARD:
Honorable mention: Kinga Rybak i Piotr Bednarczyk
CONCORDIA DESIGN AWARD:
This year’s Competition, and the exhibition at its core (both the physical one and its special online version), are special for several reasons. Like last year, the entire months-long process, involving more than 100 people, took place under conditions of an ongoing pandemic.
However, while previously the graduation projects were created still before the experience of lockdown and the general feeling of threat, they could still be presented to competition juries mainly during live meetings, and the exhibition itself was created at the WRO Art Center under a sanitary regime, in an institution closed to the public, now everything has been done in exactly the opposite way. Artistic concepts for the diploma works were created during lockdown, and their defenses and public presentations were either short-lived, or just impossible to realize in their full, assumed form.
For the first time, the deliberations of the competition committees at all eight participating art universities and academies could only take place remotely. The exhibition itself, however, could be successfully prepared together with all the artists personally involved in the set-up, which is always a great value of this project, that had been actually intended as a platform for experience exchange and community integration.
ACCESS – REACTIONS is so far the largest art exhibition presented at Concordia Design Wrocław, this year’s new partner of the exhibition. Placing all the works, each of which required its own place, breath and context, in the open space of Concordia was an interesting curatorial and implementation challenge, and the experience of organizing a group exhibition with all the constraints and possibilities associated with this form was a challenge for the authors of the artworks. The nature of some of the pieces made it impossible to reproduce them in the same form as during the thesis’ defence, and they required finding a new exhibition concept, adequate to the idea and content of the work. Some projects have evolved in the meantime, while others could be presented to a wider audience for the first time within the Competition.
What certainly needs to be emphasized is, despite (or perhaps because of?) the peculiar pandemic conditions, the high, even level of works nominated to the final exhibition. The relevance of the themes, the maturity of reflection, the clarity of the message, the adequacy and attractiveness of the means, forms and media used – all this made the jury of the main prize face a difficult task, as expressed in the preamble to their verdict: “In the eyes of the jury, all the works presented deserve attention. Leaving aside the awards, we see the exhibition itself as a success, a valuable contribution to contemporary debates – and a platform of visibility for artists. All the works are worth discussing because they raise issues that are important to our society. At the same time, as jurors we are not free from doubts about the institution of competitions as such, especially in the context of art. This made it all the more difficult for us to make a decision.”
Decisions had to be made, however, and consequently awards were given. However, the number of distinctions, as well as the distribution of awards – those granted by the international jury, the editors of Contemporary Lynx magazine, the audience, and the management of Concordia Design, are proof both of the value of the works and attitudes themselves, as well as of the undertaking itself, which in the changing conditions from year to year develops and gains strength, and every two years constitutes an important part of the program of a large international event, that is the WRO Media Art Biennale.
The Competition itself is by definition a field of testing, exploration, and experimentation, also from an institutional perspective. A year ago the online exhibition seemed like an obvious pandemic necessity, so a transfer of its contents to the web, based on original solutions, was prepared. This year, going a step further, despite the full availability of the exhibition to the audience possible due to the ease of pandemic regime, we decided to look for new options. That’s why to create the online version of the exhibition we invited Krystian Grzywacz – the winner of the two previous editions of the Competition (2017 – Main Prize, Bachelor’s degree defended in Gdańsk, and 2019 – Contemporary Lynx Prize, Master’s degree defended in Wrocław). As a result of this collaboration, taking into account the artist’s previous experience of participation in the Competition process and of working on the competition, an original online structure was created, which is both an exhibition and its documentation.
Katowice / Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice:
Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Dagmara Domagała, Joanna Rzepka-Dziedzic, Agata Cukierska, Ewa Zawadzka
Wrocław / The Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław:
Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Dominika Kluszczyk, Gosia Sobolewska, Ewa Pluta, Aga Jarząb
Kraków / Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow:
Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Paweł Janicki, Elwira Wojtunik, Magda Ujma, Mariusz Front
Łódź / Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz:
Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Malwina Hajduk-Kawalec, Agnieszka Pindera, Marcin Polak, Tomasz Załuski
Gdańsk / Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk:
Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Cezary Wicher, Gabriela Warzycka-Tutak, Natalia Cyrzan, Piotr Mosur
Warszawa / Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw:
Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Piotr Krajewski, Natalia Sielewicz, Anna Galas-Kosil, Sławomir Ratajski
Szczecin / Academy of Art in Szczecin:
Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Lilianna Leń, Stanisław Ruksza, Magdalena Lewoc, Piotr Mosor
Poznań / Magdalena Abakanowicz University of the Arts in Poznan:
Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Małgorzata Sikorska, Jagna Domżalska, Zofia Nierodzińska, Izabela Sitarska
Organizers: E. Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław and WRO Center for Media Art Foundation
Partners: Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Academy of Art in Szczecin, Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Magdalena Abakanowicz University of the Arts in Poznan, Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
Partner of the exhibition: Concordia Design Wrocław
Founder of the Main Prize in the Competition: Minister of Culure, National Heritage and Sports
Competition coordinators: Krzysztof Dobrowolski (WRO), Paweł Lisek (ASP)
Curator: Krzysztof Dobrowolski
Production: Flux-VR for Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław and WRO Center for Media Art Foundation / WRO Art Center
Concept: Wojtek Markowski, Krystian Grzywacz
Animation, graphics, render: Krystian Grzywacz
Music: Bartosz Zaskórski
Interviewers: Krzysztof Dobrowolski, Mira Boczniowicz
Documentation: Mira Boczniowicz
Web Mastering: Piotr Sarama
Production coordination: Wojtek Markowski, Krzysztof Dobrowolski