THE 33RD BIENNIAL OF GRAPHIC ARTS: CRACK UP – CRACK DOWN

7. 6.–29. 9. 2019

The 33rd Biennial of Graphic Arts was curated by the Slavs and Tatars art collective. It should not be overlooked that the central role of the curator as the selector of the works presented at the 32nd Biennial edition entitled Birth as Criterion acquired a chain mechanism in which the choice was left entirely to artists. As Slavs and Tatars participated in this biennial, Birth as Criterion in a very special way influenced the design of the 2019 Biennial.

The collective’s extensive editorial output, complex use of visual language and voracious research practice made them a particularly resonant fit with the history of the Biennial and its contemporary role. Slavs and Tatars is an internationally renowned art collective devoted to an area East of the former Berlin Wall and West of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. Since its inception in 2006, the collective has shown a keen grasp of polemical issues in society, clearing new paths for contemporary discourse via a wholly idiosyncratic form of knowledge production, including popular culture, spiritual and esoteric traditions, oral histories, modern myths, as well as scholarly research. The collective’s practice is based on three activities: exhibitions, publications and lecture-performances. Their work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Salt in Istanbul, Vienna Secession, Kunsthalle Zurich and Ujazdowski Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, among others. Slavs and Tatars has published ten books to date, including Wripped Scripped (Hatje Cantz, 2018) on language politics, Friendship of Nations (2nd edition, Book Works, 2017) on the unlikely rapport between Iran and Poland between the 17th and 21st centuries, as well as Molla Nasreddin (currently in its 2nd edition with I.B Tauris, 2017), a translation of the legendary Azerbaijani satirical periodical. Their focus on Eurasia challenges our often times one-dimensional way of seeing relationships between science, religion, power and identity. We saw them in Ljubljana in the Systems and Patterns show in 2012. The exhibition was curated by Nevenka Šivavec, MGLC Director.

For their curatorial début, Slavs and Tatars wanted to re-engage with the origins of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts. “After a thaw in the idea of medium-specificity over the last 20 odd years, we would like to refocus on ‘the graphic’ today, both in a literal but also strategic sense. In an age of mashed up futures and scrambled pasts, the role of the graphic in public discourses and polemics seems particularly relevant today.”

The focal point of the exhibition of the 33rd Biennial of Graphic Arts was the idea of satire as a distinctly visual language, with the ‘graphic’ that marks the history of the Biennial being understood and questioned in the broad field of the expressive, uninhibited, even lurid. Is each joke, as George Orwell maintained, a tiny revolution? Or does laughter and satire deflate the pressures and tension which could otherwise lead to political upheaval? Slavs and Tatars looked to humour as both strategy and content. The visual glut of our times has spawned new aesthetic languages whose messages and discourse we often find distasteful. Though the graphic arts and satire each have their own distinct specifics, they both claim to speak for and to the people.

Find out more about the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts on the Biennial’s new website: bienale.si.

 

Honza Zamojski, The Gathering and The Meeting, 2019. Installation view at the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, 2019.
Photo: Jaka Babnik. Archive: MGLC.

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ARCHIVE

You are invited to view the film "Am I a manager? Yes, I am."

Živa Škodlar Vujić, a long-time curator of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, and Mitja Rotovnik, the first director of Cankarjev dom, who professionally and personally followed the efforts of his friend Zoran Kržišnik, shared their views and memories in a short documentary about the international involvement of the Slovenian art scene. Their account takes us through the extremely dynamic period of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when Ljubljana became a cosmopolitan cultural centre. These events are illuminated from a cultural and historical perspective by Aleš Gabrič, who talks in the film about, among other things, the development of the managerial mentality in Slovenia and the importance of international cultural events, which distinguish cultural goings-on in Slovenia to this day.

From the MGLC Collection

Jo-ey Tang, The Manual
(Morava Books 14, 2012)
Collection of Art Publications

An FBI manual becomes a book of poetry, together with original microscopic and infrared images. The sculpted text is a meditation of surface and the infinitesimal space above and beneath the surface in the search for evidence.

Jo-ey Tang enacts the circulation and absence of images and objects, as well as the life cycle of ideas. The work takes on various forms of photography, video, sculpture, painting, sound, text and “self-assigned tasks”, spans over many exhibitions and is often seen as both the same and new work, in a constant process of building up and cancelling out. The publication was awarded first prize in the ROOKIE competition (June 2012, www.r-o-o-k-i-e.com), organised by City Gallery Arsenal, Poznań and Morava Publishing House.

The booklet comes in a hardback cover with 64 unpaginated pages and is offset printed in a circulation of 350 copies.

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Milton Glaser, Dylan (1966, offset)
Collection of Art Publications

The story of this poster, which was an insert on Dylan's 1967 album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, goes as follows. After suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle accident in 1966, the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was bedridden and rumoured to be dead. To generate positive publicity for his forthcoming album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, CBS Records commissioned Milton Glaser to design a special poster to be included with the album. Glaser depicted the singer in profile, with his abundant curly hair rendered in saturated colours that stand out from the background. The intense, almost psychedelic colours can also be seen as the spirit of the time and the flower power generation from the second half of the 1960s.

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Photo: Jaka Babnik. MGLC Archive.

International Museum Day at MGLC

Tuesday, 18 May, 10.00-21.00
free of charge

You are invited to view and join in the following exhibitions and events!

Invader, Prints on Paper
10.00–18.00
The exhibition is on view at Tivoli Mansion

EVENT
17.00–18.00 
Guided tour of the exhibition: Prints on Paper, conducted by Mitja Velikonja, PhD
To take part in the guided tour, bookings must be made at: trgovina@mglc-lj.si

Sonja Vulpes, Limbo
10.00–18.00
The exhibition is on view at Tivoli Mansion

ONLINE
We have prepared a short film about the artist's creative process.

The Stojan Batič Memorial Studio
10.00–18.00
Permanent display at Švicarija

EVENT
Brane Zorman: The Spirit of the Trees | Touch
20.00
In front of Švicarija

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Photo: Urška Boljkovac. MGLC Archive.