MGLC 30 YEARS

On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of MGLC, a question springs to mind upon the examination of historical facts (1) as to the main reason for the Biennial of Graphic Arts – which had up till then operated successfully under the auspices of the Museum of Modern Art as its constituent part – wanting to become an autonomous institution in a new location. It is quite clear from the numerous explanations and studies required to establish a new public institution that the motivation behind it entailed a moving away from an organizational and professional position within the graphic arts to a position that also included a practical and technical level of production. Among the organizers of the Biennial of Graphic Arts and the circle of artists that gathered around it, ideas clearly circulated about a special institution for the graphic arts that would be a cross between a museum and a specialized centre for production, education and publishing. There was a specific wish in the forefront to establish an experimental printmaking workshop, which was actually meant to take up the entire ground floor after the completed renovations of the mansion. The main reason, among many others probably, was therefore a need for a living arts centre that would be provided by the Biennial of Graphic Arts with a continuous circulation of artists and ideas as well as international visibility. The original vision of the founders came to fruition and MGLC became an important museum with a rich collection, a vibrant artistic centre with actively productive print studios, while at the same time remaining an internationally recognized producer of the Biennial of Graphic Arts. The Centre's thirtieth anniversary is a time for new ambitious plans: the museum of the 21st century must be a space of freedom, co-creation, giving and receiving. All this can be added to MGLC with the potential of live artistic creativity. MGLC will soon be complemented by the activities of an artist residential centre in the renovated Švicarija building, while thirty years is a period of time, after which Tivoli Mansion is once again ready for renovation. The newly renovated and easily accessible International Centre of Graphic Arts with the Švicarija residential centre will in the near future make up a complex linked into a core by location as well as programme – a new educational and social centre in the heart of Tivoli Park.

Nevenka Šivavec, MGLC Director

([1])The idea of a new institution, as proposed by the longstanding head of the Biennial of Graphic Arts, Zoran Kržišnik, dates back to the second half of the 1970s, when a steering committee for the construction of a centre of graphic arts was established, later becoming an action committee with a president, the high-ranking Yugoslav politician Stane Dolanc and special organizational headquarters led by cultural worker, Mitja Rotovnik. In 1979, the preliminary draft for the Graphic Centre – Tivoli Mansion was completed, which was conceived by the then head of the Faculty of Architecture, prof. Sergej Pavlin. His draft for the renovation of the mansion was fully completed in 1989. The mentioned organizational headquarters enlisted the Slovenian economy and politics to collect the necessary funds for the renovation, whereas local and foreign artists also generously took part by donating their artworks to the cause.

How colleagues remember the establishment and beginnings of MGLC
 

The Print Studios

The desire to establish a printmaking workshop appeared in as early as the 1950s, particularly through the need to enrich the print collection with new high-quality works by local and foreign artists. The first attempts at printing were made in the basement of the Museum of Modern Art in the 1960s but the activity did not flourish. The introductory text by the Secretary of the Biennial and the then Director of the Museum of Modern Art, Zoran Kržišnik, in the catalogue for the 9th International Exhibition of Graphic Arts from 1971, mentions Vila Bled as the most suitable place for setting up a centre, workshop, which would serve the purpose of reproducing the works of the contemporary masters of graphic art. With the consent of the policy-makers of the time, supported by the sponsorship of Slovenian companies, individual donors, artists and a selected team of employees, this ambitiously conceived project also came to fruition fifteen years later in 1986, after many years of effort and the reconstruction of Ljubljana's Tivoli Mansion.

mag. Boge Dimovski, Museum Counsellor, at MGLC since 1986

The Collection

On Christmas Day thirty years ago, the City of Ljubljana established MGLC as the home of the Biennial of Graphic Arts and as a centre for the promotion and printing of fine art graphic works. The Centre received its domicile in Tivoli Mansion, to where a part of its property was moved from the Museum of Modern Art, already putting its name to the organisation of the 17th International Biennial of Graphic Arts in 1987, and opening the print studios, while the other activities of MGLC formed gradually from then on. In 1989, the first floor was renovated to house and open a gallery, with the transfer of approximately 500 prints – the heritage of the Biennial – from the depots of the Museum of Modern Art to the management of MGLC, hence establishing a base for the development of a collecting policy and the Centre's collections. MGLC received the status of a museum in 2000. This is when, along with an extensive donation of artist's books, it also began to extend the collection of art publications, which is one of the most referential collections in Central Europe. The collection, which mostly consists of fine art prints, is growing with the works of ongoing production, in addition to purchases and donations. Since 2001, it is methodically being supplemented by the works of artists that have won awards in the Biennial.

mag. Breda Škrjanec, Museum Counsellor, at MGLC since 1989

30 Years of Memories

My first day at MGLC was when I came in for a job interview in early May 1989. I had received an invitation for an interview at Tivoli Mansion at Pod turnom 3. Good God I said, where is that?! I had to find the address on the map of Ljubljana. I had no idea, even though my mum had often taken me to Tivoli, to the pond, when I was a child. But the mansion building was scary, abandoned, everything was somehow open and strange. We always avoided it. And then I came to the mansion with its huge, hard-to-open doors for a job interview. There was nothing written anywhere, everything was dusty, all the doors in the entrance hall were locked. There were prefabricated apartment walls on the first floor, where the last of the mansion's residents still lived. There were three apartments on that floor. I went a floor up as Mr Kržišnik was coming through the door on the left. I only knew him from the media and I was even a little surprised to see him there. I started the job on 15 May, about a month before the Biennial (16 June was the opening of the 18th International Biennial of Graphic Arts) and two days later the last resident moved out from the apartment, which is now the gallery. That was pretty worrying since a gallery had to be set up within a month. I remember Kržišnik being very anxious. He worried about the workers not being able to manage all the work that had to be done. But it all worked out. Zoran Kržišnik put in a lot of effort to establish the Tivoli centre. The refurbishment was sponsored, someone gave the paint, someone else the material for the electrical wiring, and so on. All the mansion's former residents received apartments. The Slovenian politician Stane Dolanc was also a great helping had to Kržišnik, they were friends.

Zmaga Šešelj, retired business secretary, at MGLC since 1989

I remember the graphic biennials of the late eighties and the early nineties. We were setting up at the Museum of Modern Art, there were prints under glass all over the place, and of course we were working all day. The teams were big, the atmosphere was great, the pace was much less stressful than it is today, and Kržišnik always saved the day when something went awry.

Generally people would always be popping by and everyone was very friendly and relaxed. There were many sponsors, there was always someone flying by for a coffee or meeting. There were loads of foreigners. We had lavish openings, they were at noon with a spread of food and drink. It was lovely! Once I had my son Gregor with me during the setting up of an exhibition, who was  still a toddler then. You usually try to keep a child busy with drawing and Gregor drew the Jakopič Promenade. The drawing managed to get lost among the array of prints for the exhibition, and the curator almost exhibited this piece as well. There was much laughter to be had on that account! Now my friend, who also helped at the time, has the picture at home, and I would like to buy it from her to give it to my son for his 30th birthday.

Alenka Mikuž, administrative associate, at MGLC since 1987

When I arrived at MGLC a year after its establishment, the Centre was still in the process of being furnished, whereas work in the Print Studios began at a quick and very intensive pace. A lot of work was being made in intaglio printmaking and screen printing, and the least in lithography. Among the first to come and work in the studios were Bosnian and Croatian artists (it was still Yugoslavia then) and artists who lived farther away from Ljubljana. I think that the first artist I met was Bogdan Grom from America.

I met most of the artists through printmaking. The only one that I met later was Edo Murtić. Based on Kržišnik's recommendations of having a team that was able to do anything, Murtić sent his first piece for print – a landscape in 12 colours – by post, with instructions on how to print it. Then Leon Levar (the caretaker) took the prints to Dubrovnik by plane for the artist to sign.

In terms of time, I worked with Jože Ciuha the most. You could say that we became friends. He was torn between Ljubljana, Salzburg and Paris. We worked when he stopped over in Ljubljana, in the afternoons, weekends, public holidays, during vacation time. The Centre always adapted to the needs of the artists. After finishing work, we would often have a feast. We would sit down and celebrate. Artists love to stop by at MGLC, in the studios, not only for work, but also for help and information. We are a kind of centre of encounters.

Slavko Pavlin, printmaking master, at MGLC since 1988

Founding Supporters

The artists that made the renovations and founding of MGLC possible are Dan Allison, Marko Andlovic, Zvest Apollonio, Miroslav Arsič, Todorče Atanasov, Janez Bernik, Janez Boljka, Bogdan Borčić, Lucijan Bratuš (heirs), Jože Ciuha, Boge Dimovski, Vida Fakin, Mitja Ficko, Tomaž Gorjup, Samuel Grajfoner, Milena Gregorčič, Bogdan Grom, Toshihiro Hamano, Franz Hitzer, Goran Horvat, Drago Hrvacki, Jože Horvat Jaki, Danilo Jejčič, Andrej Jemec, Meško Kiar, Zorana de Kide, Janez Knez, Zora Koren Skerk, Bojan Kovačič, Ante Kuduz, Giani Llalloshi, Lojze Logar, Tim Long, Vladimir Makuc, Adriana Maraž, Edo Murtić, Dimče Nikolov, Polde Oblak, Valentin Oman, Freya Payne, Bill Penney, Amalija Perez Molek, Jože Peternelj, Konrad Peternelj, Veno Pilon (heirs), Rainer Plum, Concetto Pozzati, Anton Repnik, Jože Spacal, Lojze Spacal, Ljubomir Stahov, Zora Stančič, Mitja Stanek, Marija Starič Jenko, Gorazd Šefran, Gorazd Šimenko, Miroslav Šutej, Drago Tršar, Marijan Tršar, Max Uhlig, Franco Vecchiet, Vladimir Veličković, Jana Vizjak, Sašo Vrabič, Petar Waldegg, Huiquin Wang, Mehmed Zaimovič, Karel Zelenko and Giuseppe Zigaina.

The organizations that made the renovations and founding of MGLC possible are Adria Airways, Color, Elan, Emona, Ferromoto, Gorenje, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, GP Grosuplje, IMP Metall, IMV, Intereuropa, Iskra, Executive Council of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, Public Warehouses, JUB, Kemija Impex, Kompas, KP Rast, Cultural Community of Slovenia, Lek, Lesnina, LIZ, Cultural Community of Ljubljana, Mercator, Metalka, Moderna galerija, Oprema Kočevje, Petrol, Riko, SCT, Council of the City of Ljubljana, Slovenijales, Stol, Smelt, Self-Managing Community of Interests for Housing of the Municipalities and City of Ljubljana, Stenplast, Krško paper factory, Radeče paper factory, Vevče paper factory, Unitex, Velana.

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Hyperemployment

Sebastian Schmieg, Hopes and Deliveries (Survival Creativity), 2017–2018

 

Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, presents:

Hyperemployment

An exhibition curated by Domenico Quaranta

Featuring works by Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Sebastian Schmieg, Guido Segni

Production: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2019

Co-production: MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts

Partner: Italian Cultural Institute, Ljubljana

 

     

 

MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts

Grad Tivoli, Pod turnom 3, Ljubljana

Exhibition opening: Thursday, 7 November 2019 at 6 pm

Open through: 19 January 2020

 

Labour – one of the defining aspects of our capitalistic societies – is also one of the sides of contemporary life that has been more affected by technological innovations and by the advent of post-Fordism. Although increasing automation has actually caused many forms of human labour to disappear, it has not – as many thinkers have predicted – brought an end to labour. Instead, it has led to – together with other innovations, such as the rise of device culture and social networks – its fragmentation into plenty of micro labours and its infiltration into every moment of life. In other words, today, no matter if we are unemployed, self-employed or working at a regular full-time job, as “technology users” we are always working.

Hyperemployment – a word borrowed from media theorist Ian Bogost, describing “the Exhausting Work of the Technology User”– is a group show curated by Domenico Quaranta meant to explore these and other dimensions of what labour has become through the works of eight international artists who have focused their research on the topics of automation and gig economy, the end of free time and the rise of social media fatigue and self-improvement apps, among others.

In Reverie, On the Liberation from Work (2017), Danilo Correale collaborates with a New York-based hypnotherapist in drafting two guided hypnosis scripts aimed at relaxing the body and mind in preparation for a post-work society. Elisa Giardina Papa’s Labor of Sleep (2017) consists of a series of short video clips humorously referencing self-improvement apps that illustrate how we use technologies to regulate human sleeping habits within the rhythms of a wider system – one that includes humans and non-humans. In The Labour of Making Labour Disappear (2018–2019) Slovenian artist Sanela Jahić presents an ambitious ongoing research based on the programming of a predictive algorithm meant to conceive artworks in her place. Shouldn’t You Be Working? (2016) by Silvio Lorusso, originally presented as a series of stickers to be placed in any leisurely environment, ironically summarises the schizophrenic attitude towards work and leisure of the “technology user”. Launched in 2017 as an online project, Jonas Lund’s Talk To Me was a chatbot, trained and modelled on online conversations by the artist himself to create a machine-learned version of the artist. The exhibition will present a book version designed by Federico Antonini that reveals a twist which makes the project even more meaningful. Quantified Self Portrait (One Year Performance) (2016–2017) is a video installation documenting a performance by Michael Mandiberg, who used self-tracking technology to capture screenshots and images every fifteen minutes – a technique used to monitor freelance labour – and for one year thus tracked the artist’s mental, physical and emotional states. In Hopes and Deliveries (Survival Creativity) (2017–2018) Sebastian Schmieg exploited Fiverr’s lax security and downloaded thousands of videos, produced by gig workers for their clients. The work addresses voyeurism on two levels: it makes visible the people ordering such videos, while also offering a glimpse into the world of the gig economy. And finally, Demand Full Laziness (2018–2023) is a five-year plan and a durational performance about art, labour, self-sustenance and laziness by the Italian artist Guido Segni.

This exhibition is part of the programme Hyperemployment, a year-long series of events focused on post-work, online labour, AI and automation, co-curated by Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša.

 

From the Biennial Prize Winners Collection: Shifts in the Canon

Robert Jančovič, Rez I Nazenie-Pasca/, 1996, colour woodcut

 

Exhibition:

From the Biennial Prize Winners Collection: Shifts in the Canon

7 November 2019–23 February 2020

Every review of the history of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts is also informed by the stories inscribed by the prize winners of this exhibition. The selection made by the jury members – esteemed and influential art critics, curators, art dealers and other experts from all over the world – was, for many years, the only intervention into the seemingly multitudinous mass of exhibited artworks. The eagerly awaited and often critically-acclaimed decisions imparted the event with a touch of creative competition and were the driving force of the discourse that was generated by the exhibition in the professional and general public as well as the media. After every Biennial, when the hundreds of exhibited prints disappeared from the halls and what remained was only their trace in the form of an exhibition catalogue, a handful of selected works and artists – the winners chosen by the most prominent international jury – were inscribed into the history of the biennial in capital letters, and hence into the annals of worldwide printmaking.

In a sense, the exhibition of works by the prize winners from the collection of the MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts aims to get us thinking about the message of the awards of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts in the context of the canon of post-war art. Most often, the jury did not validate the Biennial’s basic guidelines regarding the quality of the artworks, nevertheless, their decisions spoke volumes in various other ways. The wavering between the need to consolidate already established directions and discover new, unknown ones can be noticed throughout.

On the other hand, the exhibition offers an insight into the collecting policy of MGLC, an institution based precisely on the heritage of the Biennial. Particularly those works that have been acquired by the museum through purchase and donation in the recent period and works that have not been especially exposed will be on display. They have been arranged chronologically into three main sections from the first exhibition of prints in 1955 to the present.

The shifts in the exhibited works from the first two periods, from 1955 to 1977, and from 1979 to 2001, can primarily be seen in the form and content of the graphic print. The prints demonstrate the emergence and consolidation of new artistic directions in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the distinct aesthetics of art informel, geometric abstraction and pop art. From the pool, not lacking in art celebrities of the older generation, the juries often awarded the most coveted prizes to young artists, the rising stars with highly innovative artistic insights.

The shifts in the printmaking of the late 1970s can also be seen in the award-winning works. With the era of popularity of the more contemporary printmaking techniques having subsided, classical ones, especially intaglio printing, came to the fore again, along with the greater popularity of smaller formats and more intimate subject matter. The award-winning works from the 1980s and 1990s do not bring about any essential artistic innovation, but rather exhibit an interlacement and diversification of established aesthetics and approaches.

With the new millennium, the Biennial experienced some radical shifts and breaks. The display of works in national pavilions was replaced by an original, curatorial approach, which has recently undergone attempts at inquiry and experimentation. At the same time, the range of artwork formats has gradually expanded. A leap from classical printmaking to the art of printing in a diversity of techniques occurred, whereas later the Biennial has also adopted performative as well as other contemporary practices. The two processes have, of course, also impacted the meaning of the prizes and the physical dimensions of the awarded works.

Authors of the exhibition: Nevenka Šivavec, Breda Škrjanec and Gregor Dražil

PLATEAURESIDUE: Sub Persona

25. 10.–29. 12. 2019

MGLC – Švicarija

 

You are invited to attend the opening of the exhibition by the PLATEAURESIDUE duo (Aljaž Celarc & Eva Pavlič Seifert) on Friday, 25 October 2019, at 19.00, presenting their new Sub Persona research and exhibition project. The exhibition is part of the year-long programme of Švicarija pursuing the motto community, art and nature, which in 2019 focuses on the analysis of the state of independent journalism and the right of the public to information. The artists, whose practice usually interlaces ecology and art, this time examine the state of forest ecosystems and the human impact on them due to past and present forest management. They will present their multimedia installation for the first time, which promotes the development of sensory thinking and questions the contemporary understanding of the environment and man’s attitude towards it.

During the preparations for the project, the artists talked to people who are directly involved in maintaining forests and have differing opinions about how they should be managed and perceived. Forests possess many functions, ranging from ecological, economic to cultural, and provide us all with a quality life on many levels. The present-day urban population often perceives forests as spaces of unspoilt nature even though they have been completely transformed by the centuries of human management. It is precisely the tradition of encroaching upon and exploiting forests that dictates the responsibility of mankind to manage them in a sustainable way, to take care of the consequences of bad practice and to eliminate the effects of climate change. The artists explore how contemporary forest management and forestry approach the goals dictated by the Pro Silva Pan-European sustainable management model, which was developed in 1989, based on the Slovenian tradition of selective felling. The goal of the Pro Silva model is to preserve all key forest functions for future generations: ecosystem, soil and climate protection, production of wood and wood products, recreation and preservation of cultural heritage.

PLATEAURESIDUE is the imaginary identity of geographer and artist Aljaž Celarc and art historian Eva Pavlič Seifert. Their practice is concerned with exploring landscape ecology and uses new media to search for new ways of raising public awareness. Accordingly, they always give a voice to the participants in their projects, natural forms such as rocks, air, organisms and other units of matter, which they reorganise into new unusual forms and new media systems. The artist duo lives and works in Novi Kot, in the hinterland of the forests of Mount Gotenica and Snežnik Plateau.

 

Plateauresidue: Sub Persona, 2019 (video still)