Aneta Szyłak

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Aneta Szyłak (6 June 1959, Puck - 31 October 2023) was a curator, art theorist, institution maker and writer.

Aneta Szyłak founded and directed the Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art (1998–2001) in Gdańsk and Wyspa Institute of Art in 2004, a contemporary arts centre for contextual curatorial practice housed in the Gdańsk shipyard, which she directed until 2014. She was responsible for the making of NOMUS (New Art Museum) - a branch of National Museum in Gdańsk (2021). Her history also includes artistic directorship of Alternativa International Visual Arts Festival in Gdańsk (2010-2016). She curated numerous and often groundbreaking contemporary art exhibitions and festivals including: Slaveness at Trafostacja Sztuki, Szczecin (2018), Damage and Loss (2016) at Alternativa 2016, Vernacularity at the Alternativa Festival 2015, Gdańsk, What’s Plain Invites Pattern’ (2015), Alternativa Foundation, Palermo; Hito Steyerl: Abstract (2014), the first solo show in Poland of celebrated German artist Hito Steyerl, Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdańsk; Estrangement (2010), The Field is the Sky Only Backwards (2013) ISCP, New York; Estrangement (2011) Alternativa, Gdańsk, Architectures of Gender: Contemporary Women’s Art in Poland (2003), Sculpture Centre, New York.

Szyłak wrote extensively on contemporary art theory and contemporary artists. Published works include: “Sherko Abbas: The Music of the Bush Era” in Archaic the exhibition catalogue for the Iraq Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (Milan: Mousse, 2017), “Tactics of Arrival/Means of Knowing” in Don’t Shrink me to the Size of a Bullet: the works of Hiwa K (2017) edited by Anthony Downey (Koenig Books & Ibraaz Publishing), “Curating Context” in The Curatorial: A Philosophy of Curating edited by Jean-Paul Martinon (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). She lectured and worked as a guest tutor at Bard College, the New School, Queen’s College and New York University all in New York, Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem, Art Academy in Helsinki and – as Doctoral Fellow – at the University of Copenhagen. She was a visiting fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art (M KA) in Antwerp and a visiting professor at the Academy of Arts in Mainz. She worked on her PhD project, Curating Con­text. The Palimpsest on the Quotidian and the Curatorial at Goldsmiths University and the University of Copenhagen. (2023)