Pilar Quinteros: Cathedral of Freedom

Starting point: the boat barrier on the Ljubljanica River at the Mortuary Bridge
Course of navigation: Mortuary Bridge – Butchers’ Bridge – Mortuary Bridge
Saturday, 25 July, at 10 am

In 1947, during the time of Yugoslavia, Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik proposed a draft for a new Slovenian Parliament in Ljubljana called the Plečnik Parliament or the Cathedral of Freedom, which is also the title of the project by Chilean artist Pilar Quinteros at the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts. However, his proposal was rejected due to financial, logistic and stylistic reasons. A new open call for submissions was released in order to find the final form and the building of the Slovenian Parliament as we know it today became the winning project. Nevertheless, Plečnik’s draft remained enshrined in the collective memory and can today be seen on the Slovenian 10 cent coin, even though the project was never developed.

The project by Pilar Quinteros tries to reconstruct the model of Plečnik’s draft using lightweight materials (such as cardboard), covered with waterproof materials. Cathedral of Freedom will be installed on a raft produced by the artist herself, which she will release on the Ljubljanica River. Hence the building will not only be the first volumetric presence in the city, but will also “visit” different places without having to be anywhere for too long, since there is no room for it in the city’s urban plan. The raft, which the artists produced in Ljubljana in its entirety, is made from wood and recycled plastic bottles.

As the artist says: “My project is about a building with no space to be that, moving aimlessly across the waters of Ljubljana.”

Pilar Quinteros

In cooperation with the Ljubljana Association of River Captains.

Biography Pilar Quinteros

Pilar Quinteros was born in 1988 in Santiago, Chile. She studied Art at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile gaining her degree in 2011. She has been working at the same institution for the past few years as a teaching assistant on a number of courses including Colour, Drawing and the Thesis Workshop.
She is a co-founder and active member of the MICH (International Museum of Chile) art collective, which is a multidisciplinary collective dedicated to generating reflective projects, art spaces and artwork. She is the winner of the Jean-Claude Reynal Scholarship (2012) for artists working in paper awarded by the Fondation de France and the Fine Arts Museum of Bordeaux, the third place winner of the CCU Art Scholarship (2013), and the finalist for the Future Generation Art Prize awarded by PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine (2014).

She has shown her work in venues such as the National Fine Arts Museum (Media Arts Biennial, Santiago, Chile, 2013), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Santiago, Chile, 2010), ArteBA (Buenos Aires, Argentina 2012), Casa de las Américas (Havana, Cuba, 2013), PinchukArtCentre (Kiev, Ukraine, 2014) and Carlos/Ishikawa Gallery (London, UK, 2015).
In her work, Pilar Quinteros uses building materials such as cardboard, wood, fibreglass and plastic, among others, many of which have been discarded, to create volumes by hand. The latter represents an important aspect of her work, as she values the thinking and understanding that emerge from a direct relationship to the production processes. By involving herself both mentally and physically in the process of creation, the result is ultimately the product of her daily routine and a full life experience. At the same time, the artist turns to video to record the actions and interventions that she undertakes in diverse contexts (public spaces, uninhabited sites, etc.) as a way of sharing with others.
Her work is dedicated to understanding our immediate universe and the transformations it undergoes over time. This has led her to think and analyze how all the things that we are used to (cities, objects, cultural imaginaries of all kinds) change with the passing of the years. Her aesthetic and visual analysis of these transformations takes as its point of departure the idea that the collective imaginary is a construction in the widest sense of the word, able not only to create fictions, but also to believe them.

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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