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Confrontations: Sessions in East European Art History

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Before the Nineties

29 April 2019

The group had a further chance to connect with the Zagreb art scene during an Open Seminar held at the Institute of Contemporary Art Zagreb. After an insightful and in depth analysis by art historian Leonida Kovač of the singular oeuvre of Edita Schubert (1947-2001), an artist whose practice still awaits international recognition, the evening carried on with an engaging conversation exploring the heterogenous streams of eighties art with curator and director of the ICA, Janka Vukmir.

The issues that were addressed included the importance of alternative art venues such as the Gallery of Extended Media in providing a platform for subcultural trends and the visual arts. Furthermore, what can be salvaged from the interrupted legacy of the time before the nineties?

Afterwards our speakers joined us for a memorable dinner. On our last night in Zagreb, everyone was full of impressions and keen to exchange notes and deepen acquaintances with fellow members of Confrontations.
(MRF)

 

 

 

Moderna galerija

29 April 2019

As curator Marko Jenko explained, the permanent collection of Moderna galerija has a novel layout that gives the visitor the choice of either following the meandering path of a heterogenous local art history from the fin de siècle to the breakup of Yugoslavia, or taking a lateral short cut travelling straight from the modernist avant-garde of the 1920s through the Partisan art of the Second World War to the neo-avant-garde group OHO and Neue Slowenische Kunst in the 1980s.
The focus of Confrontations meant that the group was just as interested in engaging with the less prominent styles and more problematic artistic phenomena from the Informel and Slovenian Dark Modernism to the eclectic painterly styles of the 1980s.The participants also found instructive the social, political and art-institutional chronology of Slovenian art in the central hall that poignantly ends with Slovenian independence in 1991.
(MRF)

 

Utopian and Dystopian 1980s

29 April 2019

A seminar with Marina Gržinić and Jovita Pristovšek offered a compelling interpretation of the development of the Slovenian artistic scene during the 1980s, as well as introducing the Confrontations participants to the microhistory of the Metelkova site and the complex relationship of the museum to local social movements. Gržinić shared some of her own memories and experiences of the eventful 1980s, emphasising the role of Škuc gallery in giving a platform to alternative currents and the sub-cultural challenge to the heteronormative values of both socialism and capitalism in the period, noting that, ‘if post-modernism was political anywhere, it was under socialism.’

(MRF)

IRWIN Studio

29 April 2019

On our final evening we had the opportunity to meet Dušan Mandić, Miran Mohar, Borut Vogelnik and Andrej Savski from IRWIN, and to quiz them about the origins of the group, their experiences with the Slovenian and international art scene during the 1980s, as well as their current practice and perspectives on contemporary political and social challenges. It was fascinating to hear their views on the circulation of artistic movements in the Yugoslav cultural space of the early 1980s, the role of class origin and privileges in the supposedly egalitarian social structure of communist Yugoslavia, as well as their explanation of the relationship between Laibach, IRWIN and NSK as overlapping but independent entities. During our time in Ljubljana we saw IRWIN artworks prominently exhibited in the permanent collection of museums, heard curatorial and art historical presentations contextualising their practice within the cultural upheaval of the Yugoslav 1980s and even got to experience the generosity, humour and warm glow of a long-lived artist group that does not shy away from critically intervening in the construction of East European art historical narratives. 

(MRF)