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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The Centenary of the Birth of Zoran Kržišnik

A hundred years have passed since the birth of Zoran Kržišnik, the initiator and longtime director of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts and the International Centre of Graphic Arts.

Zoran Kržišnik has left an indelible mark on Slovenian post-war art, especially in the field of printmaking.


The openning of the 17th International Biennial of Graphic Arts, 19 June 1987.
Moderna galerija Ljubljana Archive.

He was born on 26 January 1920 in Žirovnica in the Gorenjska region. After completing his studies in Art History at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, he became the first warden of the Museum of Modern Art in 1947. In 1957, he became director of the Museum of Modern Art and held the position until 1986. Kržišnik was one of the initiators and the longtime director of the International Biennial of Graphic Arts, which functioned under the auspices of the Museum of Modern Art between 1955 and 1986. In 1986, the organisation of the Biennial of Graphic Arts was taken on by the International Centre of Graphic Arts, which was established upon the initiative of Zoran Kržišnik and the Biennial Secretariat, receiving its spaces in Tivoli Mansion. Kržišnik was the director of the International Centre of Graphic Arts from its foundation until his retirement in 2000.

He is the co-founder of the Grupa 69 art group. He is also credited with the globally accepted term of the Ljubljana school of graphic arts. For many years, he was a member of various international juries in reputable institutions, commissions and committees around the world. He also published extensively, wrote numerous pieces on contemporary art and presented Slovenian artists in comprehensive monographs and exhibition catalogues. He made a huge contribution to the promotion of Slovenian and Yugoslav printmaking across the world. He received numerous national and international accolades for his work, including the Valvasor Award, the Silver Honorary Badge of Freedom of the Republic of Slovenia and the French Legion of Honour. Zoran Kržišnik died on 2 July 2008 in Ljubljana. In 2011, a memorial sculpture dedicated to the life and work of Zoran Kržišnik by academy-trained sculptor Matjaž Počivavšek was unveiled in front of the International Centre of Graphic Arts.

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OPEN CALL!, CRITIC IN RESIDENCE PROGRAMME 2020

MGLC Švicarija in collaboration with the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, both based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, invites art critics or cultural journalists to apply for a fully-funded, one-month residency in Ljubljana in October 2020.

Deadline for applications: 17 February 2020

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Photo: Jaka Babnik. MGLC Arhive.

 

Openning of the exhibition

Helena Tahir, Somewhere Near

Friday, 31 January, at 1 pm, MGLC

The opening will include a guided tour by the artist Helena Tahir and the exhibition curator Božidar Zrinski.


Helena Tahir: Print (4),
from the series In the Whirl
(90 x 65 cm, linocut, 2017).

Helena Tahir represents the youngest generation of artists to deliberately explore the properties of classic printmaking techniques both in terms of form and content, hence actively co-creating the image of contemporary graphic creativity on the Slovenian art scene. The exhibition presents drawings and prints made over the recent years, some of which are here presented to the public for the first time. Helena Tahir’s graphic prints are characterised by the loquacious interweaving of various images stemming from the imagination, brimming with meaningful associations and historical references that must be carefully observed in order to make them easier to understand.