Residency programme: Švicarija

With its residency programme for artists and curators, aims to stimulate the flow of artists and theoreticians in the fields of the graphic arts. The residency programme for artists encompasses work in the Print Studios as well as the integration of artists and theoreticians in the accompanying programmes. Visiting curators will be encouraged to step into a dialogue with the collection and to contextualize the Biennial of Graphic Arts and artistic production in Slovenia.

Residency dates range from one to three months, on the basis of invitations to artists and curators as well as exchanges with similar institutions.

In the year 2017, the International Centre of Graphic Arts received a new unit into its care – the Švicarija – which has been renovated by the Municipality of Ljubljana. Together we form a new cultural, educational and social centre in Tivoli Park.

Švicarija, named the Schweizerhaus, received a ceremonious inauguration, which included a brass band and fireworks, as a wooden guesthouse in 1835. The building was later rebuilt and the surrounding area was arranged by the owner of Tivoli Mansion, Marshal Radetzky. Today, it remains only as a memory in postcards. The name of Švicarija was accepted by the people of Ljubljana to such an extent that it stuck even when in 1909 the famous Austro-Hungarian architect Ciril Metod Koch constructed a new building – Hotel Tivoli, which soon became a gathering place for the bohemians, artists and other like-minded characters of the time. This is also where the workers collected to celebrate Labour Day on 1 May. Until the end of the First World War, the hotel served as a comfortable respite and a place of tasty refreshments for walkers and visitors. After the outbreak of the October Revolution, it was settled by Russian immigrants. At its peak, Švicarija housed a ballet school, which was after its move hired by one of the most important Slovenian sculptors, Ivan Zajec – the author of the Prešeren Monument in Ljubljana. In the early 1950s, many other famous Slovenian artists resided and worked there, until 2012, when the last artist moved out due to the plans for a thorough renovation. The City of Ljubljana has dedicated approximately twenty working-residential studios for Ljubljana based artists in the Švicarija Centre, with some space also intended for foreign artists on visiting residences.

With its rich history, the Švicarija provides exceptional starting points for developing various programmes that bring us closer to the Slovenian natural and cultural heritage from today’s perspective. The Centre’s programme stems from the location and history of the building, since it is inscribed as a space of hospitality, welcome, coexistence, exchange and transformation.

The Švicarija wishes to contribute to the quality of life of individuals and communities with the experience of art. The building connects artists with the city and its inhabitants on various levels through a series of artistic practices, disciplines and perspectives on art, and at the same time also provides a diverse programme for a variety of audiences.

*2019

Critic in Residency Programme 2019 at Švicarija Creative Centre

Artist in Residency Programme 2019 at Švicarija Creative Centre
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*2018

Critic in Residency Programme

Artist in Residency Programme 2018 at Švicarija Creative Centre

 

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ARCHIVE

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