The Institute of the Present
We’re interested in living culture, the imperfect kind that has yet to fully take shape. We think of it as a process rather than a complete form; as something that is happening rather than just a series of static trends, canons, works of art and narratives. Culture is the fuel that powers our imaginations with words, images and sounds, and creates a space in which to pose questions, experience wonder and discover new vistas.
Our approach stems from the nature of contemporary culture: it is variable and elusive, avoiding straightforward descriptions and codification. Today’s culture encompasses media, which change our standards of communication and presence, and transform our experience of time. We’re learning to understand it and engage with it though internet projects, artistic events, festivals, debates and print publications. We want to join our audiences in understanding the processes happening in culture, naming them and playing an active role in shaping them. We want to work with Poland’s best artists, critics, scholars and cultural organizers to create a place that is open to experimentation and bold thinking, a place we call the institute of the present.
Culture for People, Not Experts
Contemporary culture has one more important quality aside from liquidity: it gives the artist and audience equal footing, allowing the latter to participate in the creative process and to critique culture, thus influencing its further development. We like the fact that people have the final say. We want culture to have a social outlook that is about engagement rather than the logic of signals and reception. We care about cooperation, collaborative creation and “co-being.” To us, culture is more than just art: it’s an excuse for encounters, relationships and learning about others and the world.
That’s why we’re most interested in people: their stories, their recollections, their ingenuity as observers and their talent at sharing their language and sensibilities with others. The NInA building in Służew is an open, lively place where we offer a rich program of cultural events while also supporting independent grassroots initiatives, and where we hold regular events for the neighbors. We believe that a key factor in making this mission a reality is our media literacy program, which is designed to improve media competencies among members of the public as well as institutions as they engage with the content of contemporary culture.
Living Archives of Culture
This is not to say that we fetishize change and technological development. The present, after all, is merely the latest version of the past. That’s why caring for our country’s most precious works of audiovisual art lies at the heart of what we do. We take care of them technically (by archiving and digitizing them) and functionally (by distributing them more attractively and effectively), but also socially: we want to rediscover Polish culture, to read it through contemporary eyes and to continually seek out new audiences for it among all generations, young and old.
We believe that the value of our archives, be they digital or tangible, comes from more than just the quantity and quality of our digitized content; it’s also an effect of how you use and engage with it. Our archive isn’t just an anonymous database, it’s an inspiring source of history, emotions and knowledge for specific people here and now. That’s why sometimes use the term “living archives of culture” to describe what we do.
Let’s search, investigate and discover together.