INDEX ON CENSORSHIP | VOL.51 | NO.3
while the space has been turned into a makeshift refugee reception centre until the contract runs out.
What started out as an initiative by the city of Warsaw to support contemporary art in 2017 was reversed under the same party only a few years later - the neoliberal Civic Platform (PO). The reason is national politics, specifically a scandalisation of the first edition of the Warsaw Biennale in 2019.
It involved the mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski from the Civic Platform, who ran against the incumbent Andrzej Duda from the far-right Law and Justice (PiS) party as presidential candidate in 2020.
After narrowly losing the election, Trzaskowski is allegedly preparing himself for a potential second run. One thing is clear: he cannot use any bad press.
Any press is not good press Bad press is what the Warsaw Biennale ended up costing Trzaskowski. Only weeks before the 2020 election, the national broadcaster TVP ran a piece titled: “3.6 million PLN [Polish Zloty] from Warsaw authorities for cultural institution training anarchists in ‘urban tactics’’’, underscoring the agitated
The removal of the politically uncomfortable Warsaw Biennale is exceptional
ABOVE & OPPOSITE: Images from this year’s Biennale taken from an exhibition called Who has access?
tone of the piece with an image that according to reverse image search - was taken at an unrelated event. While nominally a public service station, TVP has been under political influence by the Law and Justice party since 2015.
MPs of the PiS party subsequently questioned PO in Warsaw town hall on why “Trzaskowski was breeding his rainbow militias” in central Warsaw. Even after PiS won the presidential vote, the right-wing extremist group March for Independence brought a case against Trzaskowski to the National Public Prosecutor’s Office accusing him of misconduct, making it clear the far right was not going to drop the topic.
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