Open call for the Open Institute! >

We are opening the Open Institute  – a space for creators interested in working with migrant communities.

Deadline for applications is 2 September 2019!
The list of accepted candidates will be published on 9 September 2019
The first meeting:  21, 22 September 2018
The final installation: 29-30 November 2019

Dear artists!

Open Institute
It’s a few months of art activities, active learning, and exchange of know-how, tools, and history.
It’s a socially engaged art programme for young creators of various cultural backgrounds.
It’s a shared art experience focused on work in an intercultural group.
It’s a reflection on social accountability for being together.

You’re welcome to co-create art interventions with experienced creators, researchers, organisers of cultural events, and curators. We’ll discuss methods of artistic work with communities, how to organise art events with migrants and refugees, engaging people seeking asylum and those who aren’t professional artists.

The Open Institute offers a training and art programme with workshops for migrant communities. The project will revolve around art aimed at eliminating the division into “we” and “they” when it comes to foreigners as well as at building a common social identity as part of art activities.

The work of the Open Institute will be crowned with a performative installation exhibited at Zygmunt Hübner Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw on the turn of November and December 2019. It’ll be an experience consisting of original performative and visual works of all Institute’s participants, often their very first ones.

Strefa WolnoSłowa has been organising socially engaged art workshops and events for seven years now. We engage both amateurs and professionals of various cultural backgrounds. This time we’d like to invite 10 people to work with us, especially artists starting their career in arts and those who want to try art activities with communities. Everyone’s welcome to submit applications, regardless of age, sex, origin, religious beliefs or the fluency in Polish. The application form can be completed in Polish and English, and workshops will be held in Polish and English as well.

Applications can be submitted by 2 September and a list of Institute’s participants will be published on 9 September.

Events as part of the Open Institute will be held at Stół Powszechny, a workshop space of Strefa WolnoSłowa and Zygmunt Hübner Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, as well as at the Centre for Contemporary Art.

This year, the Open Institute is organised as part of Ogród Powszechny (Art and Society Festival. Happy City) and supported by the Netherlands Embassy. The workshops are possible also thanks to the Atlas of Transitions project implemented with Creative Europe programme funds.

It’s worth reading the following before, during or after your adventure with the Open Institute:

“Immigrant Nations” by Paul Scheffer
“No culture, no Europe” by Pascal Gielen
“Sztuka ze społecznością” [“Art with community”] – collection of texts
“Artificial hells” by Claire Bishop
“Prawo do kultury” [“The right to culture”] by Igor Stokfiszewski
“Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit
“Necropolitics” or “Critique of Black Reason” by Achille Mbembe

Materials available upon request.


21-22 September – AROUND PARTICIPATORY ART, Agnieszka Różyńska and Alicja Borkowska

5-6 October – SUBJECTIVE ATLAS of WARSAW, Annelys de Vet, in collaboration with Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology / in the evening: “RUN! Course for beginners in escaping” by Strefa WolnoSłowa

19-20 October – ART WITH A COMMUNITY, Jaśmina Wójcik and Igor Stokfiszewski

21-23 October – I REMEMBER… workshop held at the Centre for Contemporary Art / Łukasz Wójcicki and Alicja Borkowska

26-27 October – FROM LITERATURE TO REALITY AND BACK AGAIN workshop / Pietro Floridia and Sara Pour

—> Atlas of Transition Festival: 30 or 31 October – “Turn on the boiler, at least warm water will be waiting for me” by Strefa WolnoSłowa

9-10 November – TEAMWORK IN CREATIVE ENDEAVOURS / Kris Łukomski

17 November – WORKSHOPS. A SOCIALLY ENGAGED ART PROJECT FROM SCRATCH / Agnieszka Różyńska and Alicja Borkowska


29 November – OPENING GALA

30 November – INSTALLATION / Forum for the Future of Culture

8 December – EVALUATION

Throughout the duration of the Open Institute, participants can consult their projects with Agnieszka Różyńska, Alicja Borkowska, and Igor Stokfiszewski at face-to-face meetings.

21-22 September
11.00-18.00, Stół Powszechny
Agnieszka Różyńska and Alicja Borkowska

The workshop will explore art created in cooperation with local communities, groups facing the threat of social exclusion, or national and ethnic minorities. We will also discuss art that engages individuals without any previous connection to the art world. The meeting will be spent on a vigorous reflection (expressed in action) on the meaning of drawing upon people’s stories and biographies in order to create a work of art. What opportunities, inspirations, and threats come into play? On one hand, we will take a look at the artists engaged in documentary art. On the other, we will consider the creators of participatory art. Through our discussions and a range of activities, we will examine the way in which art builds a community and affects people who, inspired by artists or creative groups, actively engage in local art projects.

Instructors: Alicja Borkowska and Agnieszka Różyńska / Strefa WolnoSłowa

ALICJA BORKOWSKA – the founder of Strefa WolnoSłowa, a coordinator of drama projects, and a director of plays staged by the foundation. She graduated from the Theatre Studies Department at the Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw and the Polish School of Reportage, followed a programme in Drama, Art, and Music Studies at the University of Bologna. She also completed a postgraduate course in the organisation of multicultural events, offered by the ATER Formazione Centre in Bologna. She helped organise multiple theatre festivals in Poland and abroad and has been involved for many years with Teatro dell’Argine/ITC Teatro in Bologna where she coordinated multicultural drama projects, conducted drama workshops for migrants and refugees, co-curated and coordinated the La Scena dell’Incontro festival. Alicja has many years of experience conducting drama workshops for children, adolescents, and adults in schools and theatres in Poland and abroad. She’s a participant in the ISCOS Emilia Romagna project in a youth detention centre in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, where she conducted drama workshops, and in the joint undertaking of Teatro dell’Argine and Al Harah Theater from Beit Jala, Palestine. During the latter project, she was director’s assistant working on the adaptation of Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, a co-production of both theatres. The originator and coordinator of the following local multicultural projects: three editions of the Azyl Warszawa [Warsaw Asylum] project in the district of Targówek in Warsaw, Otwarte! [Open!], Teatr / Spotkanie [Theatre / Meeting], Teatr miejski [Urban Theatre], and international projects such as: Migrating Theatre, The City Ghettos of Today, History Atlas Under Construction, Beyond Theatre. She’s the director of plays staged by Strefa WolnoSłowa. The co-owner and programme co-coordinator of the café and the workshop space of Stół Powszechny in Warsaw.

AGNIESZKA RÓŻYŃSKA – a cultural manager. Having graduated from the Polish-English Youth Coach University (STM) in 2012, she now programmes and runs socially engaged art projects and uses the Gestalt approach to build educational spaces. A curator of art projects engaging local communities, such as: Generator Malta as part of Malta Festival Poznań (2016, 2017), Sąsiedztwo – granice bliskości [Neighbourliness, or the Borders of Closeness], an academy for young creators (2016, 2017), Eksperyment: DIALOG [Experiment: DIALOGUE] (2017). A cultural educator working on the following projects: Struktury Kultury [Structures of Culture] (under the nationwide programme entitled Bardzo Młoda Kultura [A Very Young Culture], 2016, 2017), Koalicja Kulturotwórców [Coalition of Culture-Creators] (Civic Initiatives Fund (FIO), 2015), and on the undertakings organised by the Centre of Educational Practices (CPE) (2016, 2015). An organiser and coordinator of youth and social actions held as part of the following programmes: Ogród Łazarz [The ‘Lazarus’ Garden] (2015), Otwarta Strefa Kultury Łazarz [The ‘Lazarus’ Open Cultural Zone] (2015, 2016), and by the Institute of Social Education (IES) (2013, 2014). A producer at the Polish Theatre in Poznań (2016–2017), a PR manager of the Art Stations Foundation performance programme (2015–2016). Since 2017, she has been working at SCENA ROBOCZA, a drama centre in Poznań, as a coordinator of the Education Department and a PR manager.

5-6 October
11.00-18.00, Stół Powszechny
Annelys de Vet

What makes living in Warsaw meaningful? What are the issues at stake; both the poetry as the misery, the personal and the political? Together we will capture these narratives in visual mappings, infographics, photo series and other cartographic explorations. Under the guidance of Dutch/Belgium designer Annelys de Vet and two graphic assistants from Warsaw the participants will be guided to make their visual voices heard and bring that to a site specific exhibition. The developed works will form the starting point to make a Subjective atlas of Warsaw with more cultural institutes and engaged citizens.

Subjective Editions
Subjective Atlas Editions is a publishing initiative that develops and disseminates bottom-up engaged mapping publications. In collaboration with local communities, an expanding series of subjective atlases is being made. These volumes are mapping a country, region or geo-political entity on a personal way by the inhabitants themselves. During workshops with local cultural institutes, artists, designers, photographers and architects are invited to map their country, environment, daily live or social concerns from their own perspective. Personal involvement is the starting point to produce human, unconventional and fair images. The maps, graphs, inventories, flags and drawings as a whole expose the consequences of political change, but discreetly, implicitly, and not as a goal. The publications show, above all, a complex reality that is often blinded by too simplistic media images. This powerful series of alternative, copyright-free cartographies can serve as an inspiring, publicly available tool to critically question the apparently objective.


Annelys de Vet (1974, NL) is a Belgium based designer, curator and initiator. De Vet’s work explores the role of design in relation to the public and political discourse. She has headed the MA in Design ‘Think Tank for Visual Strategies’ at the Sandberg Instituut from 2009 to 2019 and is currently developing a temporary masters program in design in conflicted realities with a focus on Palestine, and conducting a PhD in the same field at the University of Antwerp. She is the founding and artistic director of the thought provoking design label Disarming Design from Palestine, generating useful products from Palestine that spread alternative narratives about life under occupation. Since 2003, she has initiated Subjective Editions that map countries from a human perspective; including Subjective Atlas of Palestine (2007), Subjective Atlas of Colombia (2015), Subjective Atlas of Brussels (2018) and Subjective Atlas of Pakistan (2018). She co-curated the exhibition Unmapping the World (2014) on critical contemporary mapping practices, for the ExperimentaDesign Biennale, Lisbon, Portugal and for the international Graphic Design Festival in Chaumont (2015). More:,

19-20 October
11.00-18.00, Stół Powszechny
Jaśmina Wójcik and Igor Stokfiszewski

How to approach a long-term process of cooperation with a local community in order to voice its expectations, to transform together the relationships within it, and to support its transformation, considering the specific nature of the community itself and its environment? Those are the central questions in the reflection on community arts as understood today. The workshop, exploring the issue of art created with a community, will base on the seven-year experience of Jaśmina Wójcik and other artists, activists, and cultural event organisers who helped her work with the local community in the Warsaw district of Ursus, especially with the former employees of the recently closed truck tractor factory. The meeting will involve an inquiry into the theory and genesis of community arts, a reflection on the “democratic turn” in contemporary art, and an attempt to define the methodology of working with a community in a way which reflects its cultural background, voices its social expectations, produces a social change, and simultaneously allows to complete projects of high artistic value.

Instructors: Jaśmina Wójcik and Igor Stokfiszewski

JAŚMINA WÓJCIK – an artist devoted to activism and art based on multiannual cooperation with communities. Assistant professor [adiunkt] at the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) in Warsaw. Since 2016, she has been conducting arts classes in the “Świetlik” Montessori kindergarten (alternative education). The author of many workshops for children, adolescents, and adults. In 2016, she won First Prize in the Film Award competition, organised by the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and the Polish Film Institute, for her feature film entitled Symfonia Fabryki Ursus [The Symphony of the Ursus Factory]. In 2015, she was awarded (alongside Iza Jasińska, Pat Kulka, and Igor Stokfiszewski) Grand Prix in the Warsaw Cultural Education Award competition for the Fabryka. Ursus 2014 [A Factory. Ursus 2014] project integrated into the urban space of the former Mechanical Works in Ursus. In 2015, she participated in the Radical Democracy: Reclaiming the Commons project; as a member of the Warsaw team, she was among the initiators of Miasto – Wspólna Sprawa [The City – a Common Cause], an informal coalition of Warsaw initiatives for the protection of public space.

IGOR STOKFISZEWSKI – an activist, researcher and initiator of activities related to social theatre, community theatre, and socially engaged art. He cooperated with i.a.: the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre in Kraków, the Workcentre of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards (Pontedera, Italy), the German Rimini Protokoll collective, and artists such as Artur Żmijewski, Paweł Althamer, and Jaśmina Wójcik. As a playwright, he worked on plays directed by Wojtek Klemm, Agnieszka Olsten, and Bartosz Szydłowski in the National Stary Theatre in Cracow, the Studio Theatre in Warsaw, and the Współczesny Theatre in Wrocław. A co-curator of socially engaged art undertakings in post-industrial space: Zakłady. Ursus 2014 [The Works. Ursus 2014] and Ursus – spacer w czasie [Ursus – a Walk in Time] (2015). A member of the team at the Seventh Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2012). The author of the book titled Zwrot polityczny [A Political Turn] (2009), the editor of the ebook titled Culture and Development: Beyond Neoliberal Reason (2017), and a co-editor of the publications: Kultura i rozwój. Analizy, rekomendacje, studia przypadków [Culture and Development. Analyses, Recommendations, Case Studies] (2016), Built the City: Perspectives on Commons and Culture (2015), and Jerzy Grotowski. Teksty zebrane [Jerzy Grotowski. A Collection of Texts] (2012), and others. A member of the Krytyka Polityczna team.

21-23 October
18.00-21.00, Ujazdowski Castle / Centre for Contemporary Art
Alicja Borkowska and Łukasz Wójcicki

The workshop can be your opportunity to personally experience creative work in a multicultural group of people. It’ll be based on methods of work with the body as well as on verbal and movement improvisation, allowing for creative transformation of actual events and pieces of biographies into interesting performative materials. We’ll form a chorus of voices and bodies using such tools as animal flow, natural movement, and experimental choreography. We’ll ask questions about our place in space and the world, going down the memory lane, recalling events, movements, and actions. The workshop is inspired by Georges Perec’s works; there’ll be used methods of workshop work with multicultural groups of Strefa WolnoSłowa as well as choreographic experiences of Grupa Ruchoma (Moving Group).


Łukasz Wójcicki – an art performer, choreographer, and dancer. In 2003, he graduated from the Academy for Theatre Practices “Gardzienice” in acting, dance, music, and performing. Since then, he’s been cooperating with the Chorea Theatre in Łódź, Poland as a guest dancer and choreography consultant; and with the Remus Theatre as a dancer, choreographer, and singer (performances: Echo [Echo] 2011 and Obsesja [Obsession] 2013). In 2006, he was one of the main dancers in Katsura Kan’s butoh performance titled The Dance of The Forest (co-production of the Chorea Theatre and the Limen Theatre). Since 2008, he’s been cooperating with the Komuna/Warszawa Theatre as a team member. Between 2013 and 2016, he was one of the main dancers in ReqieMaszyna, the performance by Marta Górnicka, and I the assistant director. Since 2016, he’s been developing his own bodywork programme and workshop called “Autonomy Body Movement”, combining contemporary dance, contact improvisation, partnering, parkour/ free run, animal flow, martial arts, ground work, micro acrobatics, and motion. He’s a level 2 instructor of Animal Flow, an innovative bodyweight-dance-like training system which combines dance, yoga, capoeira, and stretching based on animal moves. Since 2016, he’s been cooperating with Strefa WolnoSłowa as an actor and choreographer as well as a dance and movement coach, leading choreography/movement workshops in Warsaw, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Paris, Bologna, Tel Aviv, Teheran, New York, Montevideo. He completed a one-year course at the Academy of Experimental Choreography under the “Centrum w Ruchu” (Centre in Motion) collective of dancers, choreographers, and movement practitioners like Maria Stokłosa, Magda Ptasznik, and Renata Piotrowska-Auffret. At the beginning of 2019, he founded an informal group called “Grupa Ruchoma” (Moving Group) consisting of art performers, dancers, choreographers, actors, and gymnasts.

26-27 October
11.00-18.00, Stół Powszechny
Pietro Floridia, Sara Pour

How to combine themes and experiences of our everyday lives with literature? Workshop participants will explore methods of literary production combining written materials, topical events, and personal experiences of participants of art activities with communities. We’ll discuss thematic and morphological marriages, writing pieces of text and drawing conceptual and emotional maps based not only on literature but also on other art, visual, journalistic, and philosophical materials. We’ll use tools to enrich cultural text with analogies and different tools to deconstruct it, transform it or even rewrite it into our own experiences. The workshop will zoom in on the method of long-term work on scripts for performative events with participation of communities, developed i.a. in Italy, Morocco, Palestine, Iran, and Brazil.


Pietro Floridia
– an actor, director, and writer. In 1994, he founded Teatro dell’Argine in Bologna and was its art director for many years. A dozen or so years later, he gathered 30 performers from 14 countries living at that time in Bologna and created the Cantieri Meticci organisation as well as the MET theatre and culture centre. For years he’s been working with multicultural groups, migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Italy. He stages plays and organises interactive theatrical performances engaging locals of places where he creates. He worked in such countries as Germany, France, Sweden, Morocco, Palestine, Brazil, Bolivia, and Iran.

Sara Pour – a visual artist, illustrator, and graphic designer. She comes from Iran and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. She cooperates with the Cantieri Meticci organisation in terms of scenography, theatrical props, and visual production. She organised art workshops for children and adolescents and worked at refugee centres. She pursues illustration projects and creates large-scale dolls, often as part of workshops with communities.

9-10 November
11.00-18.00, Stół Powszechny
Kris Łukomski

During the workshops, we will discuss TEAMWORK as a methodology of artistic work, using the examples of selected projects carried out by art communities across the world. We will also look into the results of the instructor’s work as a curator in Indonesia, Poland, and Nepal. The workshop will be concluded by teamwork addressing a specific situation in conformity with the needs of the place and the people.

Methods, goals, tools:
- The principal goal of the workshops is to focus on a particular problem arising from a need (of a place, a community) and to solve it creatively
- Creation of a phalanstery, group discussion, assignment of roles, and determination of responsibility for individual steps of the process
- Inhabitation and development of a place
- Comprehension of a work in progress (of public or social nature) as an integral part of the context and not its mere presentation as “an outcome of activities in the context” (e.g. a place or a social group)
- Equal participation of artists-creators and work/situation development process participants in presenting and discussing the work/situation
- The outcome isn’t supposed to be principally ephemeral and temporary or to make its creators pleased or happy, but rather to be a step in the process of further similar work.

Tools to be used in the work include the following:
- Narration, storytelling
- Collection (of items and meanings) as a creation tool
- Preparation of food together
- A walk planned in advance.

Instructor: dr Krzysztof Łukomski / University of the Arts in Poznań (UAP)

KRZYSZTOF ŁUKOMSKI – a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) in Poznań in the years 1999–2005. In 2004, he received a scholarship at ENBA in Lyon, France. Guest student: UDK Berlin, the Slade School of Fine Art, London. He holds a diploma from the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) in Poznań in two fields: Art Promotion and Criticism as well as Intermedia. Currently, he’s a lecturer and assistant professor [adiunkt] at the Intermedia Activity and Photography Studio of the Intermedia Department at the University of the Arts in Poznań (UAP); a lecturer at the international School of Form in Poznań. He cooperates with the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw and promotes interdisciplinarity in arts and art studies. He holds a doctoral degree in design. An art promoter, curator, and organiser of a few dozen exhibitions, educational programmes, workshops, and art events in Poland, France, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Germany, the US, and the Balkans; he was one of the makers of the constantly growing cultural exchange between Poland and Indonesia in 2014–2016, an author of various articles about art. An art director of SHORT WAVES FESTIVAL in the years 2014–2016; a photographer and video-maker, designer of publications in the field of arts and culture; author of video clips. A member of curating teams and foundations, engaged in a multitude of interdisciplinary projects as a curator and a consultant. Currently he’s developing strategies for multi-annual interdisciplinary programmes in art and education, implemented in Poznań, Warsaw, Berlin, as well as in Asia, Nepal, and Indonesia. He’s interested in methodologies of art education, communication design, and the psychology of art reception.

16-17 November
11.00-18.00, Stół Powszechny
Agnieszka Różyńska, Alicja Borkowska

For the artists and cultural event organisers, the workshop is an opportunity to better themselves by acquiring necessary skills and knowledge on running a socially engaged art project. The following issues will be discussed: social need diagnosis, interpersonal communication using the NVC method developed by Marshall Rosenberg, management of a socially engaged art project, acquisition of funds for cultural events, evaluation of the creative process and the project work.




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