You are invited to participate in creating the 32nd Biennial of Graphic Arts as part of the project To whom does this architecture belong? by artist Erica Ferrari!

This is an invitation to write your thoughts about the the city of Ljubljana, the public treatment of the architecture, heritage, sculptures, tourism. What do you think about how the city is evolving/changing? How does this affect you, your relation with the city, your daily routine. 

The sentences will be part of an artistic project by a Brazilian artist at the 23nd Biennial of Graphic Arts and will be written on the facade of Tivoli Mansion.

Please answer back this e-amil with one or more sentences it will stay in total anonimity you can write in english or slovenian.

We count with your thoughts! Thank you

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About the artist

Erica Ferrari (1981) lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil. She graduated in Visual Arts from the University of São Paulo with a BA in Sculpture. Her work focuses on the relationships between architecture, landscape and day-to-day life in the city. This includes a study of the historic and symbolic density of architectural structures, different representations of the idea of landscape and the elements that visually compose our understanding of what is constructed and what is natural. The pieces are presented as objects or panels, usually constructed of materials commonly used in houses and furniture like wood, plaster and formica.

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About the project To whom does this architecture belong?

Phrases collected, video intervention and souvenir

Architecture and its uses model life in the city. In a metropolis like São Paulo, in constant destruction and construction of its physical configuration, transience not only reflects the usually predatory dynamics of the real estate market, but also the lack of regulation and conservation of buildings and public spaces by the government. In this context of changes, how does the population express itself and consolidate its identity? One of the most interesting ways is graffiti. From the 1960s, the practice of writing over architecture became a symbol of political protest, a manifestation of identity and expression. The practice took its own characteristics in São Paulo, with the development of a specific spelling added to the challenge of writing in the high buildings of the city. In the last year, because of the tense political situation in Brazil, graffiti with political messages have reappeared strongly, particularly in the center of the city. The same practice of expression can be observed in Ljubljana, however, with some striking differences. As the center of the city has undergone a restoration process in recent years, the graffiti are not easily found there. Messages can be seen in the surrounding areas, in specific buildings that have not yet been "embellished" or in building sidings. Many of them refer to the anti-fascist struggle and the consolidation of Slovenian identity, a country that only gained independence in 1991.

In this sense, we can think of this restoration of the center of Ljubljana as part of a global scenario of investments by governments to make cities more ecological, cultural and 'beautiful', thus becoming an attraction for private investments of all kinds and part of the tourism industry. If, on the one hand, this dynamic has immediate positive results in the economy and in the physical aspect of buildings, on the other hand, it can lead to the expulsion of the traditional inhabitants of the center and cause a lack of recognition of the population with that historical and primordial space.

In the project proposed here this context is the starting point to investigate the dubiousness of this process in the city, using the facade of the International Center of Graphic Arts - MGLC - as support. As a historical building of the XVIII century, like many other constructions of this type, the building is marked by the change of uses during its existence, being a residence of nobles, property of the Church, serving for state functions and now housing a museum. Due to its location, it can be seen in the distance in the middle of the vegetation of Tivoli Park. Taking advantage of this configuration, the facade of the building will be used as a screen for the display of phrases collected from residents of Ljubljana. This collection will be done in the most anonymous way possible, through a specific email. The idea is that the facade of historical construction becomes the vehicle of manifestation of the population's thinking about the current dynamics of the city and privileged support of claim and expression of identity. The sentences will be written in the style of the graffiti observed by the city, practice that revealing opinions using the architecture itself as a support.

Inside the MGLC, it will be possible to purchase a souvenir typical of European museums (the decorative dish) with the representation of the building with the graffiti in its facade.

 

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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