BHP (Health & Safety)

curated by Aneta Szylak
WYSPA Institute of Art, Gdansk, Poland
September 3 – October 3, 2004

Azorro Supergroup, Helene Caubel & Anne Lalaire, Maureen Connor, Oskar Dawicki, Fundacja 36,6, Adam Garnek, Ellen Harvey, Agnieszka Kalinowska, Grzegorz Klaman, Dominika Krechowicz, Kamil Kuskowski, Jacek Niegoda, Monika Pudlis, Oliver Ressler, Allan Sekula, Dominika Skutnik, Marek Sobczyk, Michal Szlaga, Twozywo, Andrzej K. Urbanski, Ania Witkowska, Piotr Wyrzykowski

Wyspa Progress Foundation – the pioneering non-profit art organization based in Gdansk, Poland – opens its dramatic new venue, the WYSPA Institute of Art, with a project titled “BHP” (Health and Safety). The building was formerly the shipbuilding school of the Gdansk Shipyard. The school was abandoned in 1998 and “Health & Safety” marks the commencement of its renovation and reincarnation as an art institution.

“Health & Safety” was conceived and curated by Aneta Szylak and will present artistic interventions in the building, as well as presenting the future development and design of the building. The project seeks to analyze the local context for the institution’s program and to test the suitability of the building for art projects. While the primary association for the term ”BHP” (Health & Safety) is the industrial past of the new Institution’s physical context, the term can also be seen as referring to a new future, to a new definition of health and safety as a metaphor for institution making. Both symbolically and literally, the exhibition and its attendant events are intended to build the foundation for a new physical and intellectual environment for contemporary visual culture. In doing so, however, the intention is not to deny but rather to actively engage the rich and complicated past and present of the site. 

“Health & Safety” can be seen as both a utopian and practical act that seeks to create alternative strategies for dealing with the complex situation of the shipyard, where industrial mythology, historical representation, survival strategies, unemployment, lost hope and other similarly emotionally loaded issues struggle for the foreground. At the same time, its attempt to engage and use the industrial context of its site, can also be seen to point towards a new solution for the perennial issue of art’s current institutional isolation. The accompanying conference will provide a critical opportunity to explore these issues. The invited artists, curators, architects and theoreticians will share their experiences and take part in a debate over the Wyspa Institute of Art that will cover issues such as curatorial concept, architectural vision, potential platform for international exchange, implementation strategy and the creation of a structure for intellectual and artistic contacts. 


Frames salvaged when the Gdansk Shipbuilding School was converted into the Wyspa Institute of Art were filled with mirrors and hung facing a wall in the Institute still covered in its original paint. The opposing wall was painted with trompe l’oeil copies of the frames filled with details of other locations in the Institute prior to their renovation