Where is the Money?
curator: Jacek Sosnowski; scenography: Justyna Bugajczyk

In Poland, there is probably not a single artist, curator, critic, head or employee of a cultural institution, art academy lecturer or student, gallerist, or collector who has never had to operate under extreme budget constraints—a plague upon the national field of contemporary art. The state of limited production resources has so deeply shaped our consciousness that virtually any conversation about money is extremely awkward. 

The question about the budget available for implementing a vision is unavoidable and usually asked at the very beginning of a preliminary meeting. This is also the stage at which most projects come to an end, for the available balance is generally zero. Institutional remuneration does not help much because the rates of even the most generous of institutions are usually enough to cover only a fraction of an artist’s expenses.

Artistic practice has unfortunately become the prerogative of those who are financially independent to begin with, or who have managed to secure alternative sources of financing for their creative path—a private source, most likely, of which there are precious few. The obvious solution seems to be the marketing of works: auction records spiralling ever higher is the aspect of the art world the imagination is most susceptible to. Unfortunately, in our reality, this mainly applies to works that are older than their creator’s adult children.

The exhibition Jaki mamy budżet? – ‘Wheres the Money? is a bitterly humorous fable about what never came to be, for the dark matter of the art world has absorbed projects, talents, and careers beyond reckoning. Each photograph represents a project that crashed into an institution’s budget like a wrecking ball. Ada Zielińska uses her position as an artist adept at navigating the field of art to critically scrutinise the system and its conditions while at the same time empathising with her co-participants. The aestheticization of money in Zielińska’s photographs is also a tale about its fetishisation in the world of art—about how phantasmic, illusory, and unattainable it is. For just a moment, however, we can indulge in this carefree fantasy, able to count at last upon the favour of the ‘monied collector.’

“Where is the Money” on view during Kraków Photomonth 2021, Galeria Szara Kamienica,
Photo documentation: Kamil Krajewski