Masters Peasants Peasants Masters

Wojciech Szymański

Magdalena Ujma

Masters Peasants Peasants Masters

BWA Sokół in Nowy Sącz

Sądecki Ethnographic Park in Nowy Sączn

28 June – 11 September 2016



The artistic project entitled Masters Peasants Peasants Masters is devoted to how the countryside is perceived in culture through the prism of museum and ethnographic collections. The project is going to comprise three integral parts: two exhibitions and an interdisciplinary scientific panel discussion.


The first part will have the form of a display of contemporary works of art at the premises of the Sądecki Ethnographic Part and the Galician Town, branches of the District Museum in Nowy Sącz. Most works will be executed at the site. Created by contemporary artists from Poland and abroad, they will be in situ installations or works commenting on the very idea of the open air ethnographic museum as a cultural construct.


The second part of the project is an exhibition organized in collaboration with the District Museum and the BWA Sokół gallery.


In the exposition space at the BWA Sokół, invited artists will carry out an artistic scheme based on previous research of archive materials and the truly extensive collection (folk art, photography and professional ethnography-related art) assembled by the District Museum. The scheme will include the museum’s archive materials and an artistic installation as well as an educational and popularizing show dedicated to the question of collecting and displaying anything folk-related in a traditional museum.


Both parts of the exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual (Polish and English) catalogue featuring curatorial essays as well as articles on folk-related phenomena, ethnography and compiling collections of folk and unprofessional art.


The third part of the project is to be a panel discussion with the participation of historians, art historians, anthropologists, sociologists and ethnographers. The scientific panel discussion will be devoted to the question of how the countryside was perceived in the 20th and the early 21st century.


Such themes as folk culture and art, how they are defined and protected, their history, cultural activities of people living in the country, as well as the idea of a special type of museum – the open air ethnographic museum, have been growing in popularity and importance in Polish scientific, artistic and journalistic discourse. Today’s fashion for revealing peasant or small-town origins is an expression of this tendency. Rural origins, culture and values, the attitude of other social classes towards peasants are being increasingly explored by contemporary film makers, theatre practitioners, visual artists and writers. It is rarely, however, that significant conclusions are drawn from the fact that the majority of Polish society come from small towns or villages. It is our belief that the panel discussion we are proposing would be a major event and a perfect opportunity to address and analyze the questions listed above.


The cooperation of two cultural institutions in Nowy Sącz would be another meaningful and vital result of the project. Artists invited to contribute to the project as well as scientists partaking in the panel discussion will be instrumental in the creation of space for dialogue and a bridge between the historical aspect of the collection and activity of the District Museum and the BWA Sokół, orientated towards contemporariness and the present. We believe that such perspective will produce a multidimensional project – an intriguing artistic event and exposition held by both institutions, capable of attracting the attention not only of specialists from cultural institutions but, first and foremost, of the local public and people visiting the town. By joining our initiative, the Ethnological Park in Nowy Sącz would attract new kinds of visitors; it would stage a cultural event of great importance for contemporary reflection on culture.



The main questions addressed by the project will include:

- ways of constructing the image of the countryside and the people living there (e.g. so-called ‘peasant-mania’) in the 19th and 20th century in ethnography and anthropology as well as museums and collections in the late 19th and the 20th century

- social embarrassment, denial of rural origins,

- unwanted legacy of rural origins,

- deconstructions of attempts at defining rurality with popular strategies of ethnographization and anthropologizing,

- a critical look at the components of what is considered as rural: poverty, mud, abject, lack of form,

- showing grassroots countryside-related phenomena, outside of official narrations: slaughter, revolution, politics, the relationship one-of-us v stranger, I v Other, emigration today and before,

- showing figures of rural culture and their ‘long presence’ in modern and postmodern culture,

- folklore and observances, emancipation of peasants.




Galeria BWA SOKÓŁ w ramach projektu "Budowa Małopolskiej Galerii Sztuki NA BURSZTYNOWYM SZLAKU w Nowym Sącz". Projekt współfinansowany z Europejskiego Rozwoju Funduszu Regionalnego Programu Operacyjnego na lata 2007-2013.