The exhibition shows how expanded the field of art was in the 1980s, with practices characterized by multimedia, self-organization, interdisciplinarity, trans-generational work, and collective authorship. The display concept foregrounds the typical venues and events, putting additional emphasis on selected artistic installations. The multimedia theme is approached from two curatorial angles: via the alternative and/or subculture venues and via the institutionally and technologically supported practices. Together they reveal a media field constituted by the interrelations between production and presentation, concept and context, television and video. Individual instant media, e.g. photography, video, and Xerox, are not presented in their specific forms, but in the way they related to other media.
List of venues:
The Disco FV (1980 ̶ 1985) club, its multimedia programme and main venue for subcultural events in Ljubljana has become the symbol of the struggle of the alternative scene for its space because of several forced relocations (Disko Študent (Student) at the Student Campus (1981 ̶ 1983), Dom mladih (Youth Centre) at Zgornja Šiška (1983 ̶ 1984), K4 at Kersnikova (1984 ̶ 1985).
Organisation and production of signature topical programme and club TV: original DJ, music nights, concerts, film and video screenings, multimedia projects, performances, installations, photography exhibitions, Xerox technique and graffiti, wall writings and photo showcase...
Led by the FV group (Zemira Alajbegović, Aldo Ivančić, Neven Korda, Dario Seraval, Goran Devide and others), a multimedia group with a number of colleagues, who also established the independent publishing company for music and video cassettes (FV Recording company) and the FV Video label became the initiator and producer of many video projects.
The Student Cultural Center – ŠKUC was comprised of different sections (art, theater, film, music and dance among others). A decisive turn in the work of the center took place in 1978 when it acquired its own facilities at Stari Trg 12 in Ljubljana. In 1983/1984, after other sections were moved, this space was primarily used for visual art and became known as the ŠKUC Gallery. The gallery organized monographic and collective exhibitions or projects of artists from Slovenia and other republics, as well as foreign artists. Although the arts section of ŠKUC often faced financial problems this fact did little to curb the creative enthusiasm of its associates.
During the 1980s, the gallery became a meeting point for young artists and theorists and the site of alternative and subcultural production. Unconventional exhibitions, opposition to institutional culture, new views on fine arts, new media and artistic practices (like graffiti painting) and multimedia projects (including fashion, architecture and photography), all found their place in the gallery. In addition, the gallery also published posters, publications, audio and video cassettes, either independently or (from 1981 onwards) in cooperation with the ŠKUC Gallery publishing house Galerija ŠKUC Izdaja.
The ŠKUC Gallery became a unique social and cultural space, where all manner of diverse events and projects took place, a laboratory for both ideas and connections. There were exhibitions of paintings, objects, photographs, graffiti, photocopies and posters, performances, installations, multimedia projects, screenings of films and videos, concerts, as well as symposia and panel discussions that reflected on the events and the production related to both mass culture and constructive theoretical and critical practices. There was a conceptual shift in artistic language and thinking, the field of visual art expanded and with it the impact it exerted, and there was a very tangible opposition to institutional culture and modernist art. The new program models led to different relations between artists and audiences, and to establishing the conditions for multimedia and interdisciplinary projects.
Apart from Ljubljana, the youth cultural centres and clubs across Slovenia were also important venues of alternative culture and multimedia practices, They were active in Maribor and Koper, Izola, Idrija, Krško, Novo Mesto, Trate … organising programs of concerts and events as well as strong publishing activities, fanzines, disks and cassettes.
For video art, television programs were important as a medium of production, presentation, and reflection. In the 1980s, the relationship between video art and television changed: video artists no longer saw television as their greatest obstacle or opponent as they had in the pioneering 1970s, when video evolved as a reaction to the growing power of television. The interest for »different« TV and great expectations in the mid-eighties was embodied by ATV (Alternative/Artistic television) as the first independent TV in Yugoslavia, which was available to the public already in designing the programme. It was based on the original approach of »making« television, selecting different topics and their content-aesthetic treatment, produced by civil society groups and interested individuals as an alternative for national TV. Bogdan Lešnik, the then president of the ŠKUC-Forum Association and Marijan Osole – Max, video artist and producer together with their colleagues produced the elaborate and the programme schedule. In 1987 at the Brut Studio several hours of pilot programme was created, although it never actually worked as radio diffuse TV, which would air on its own frequencies.
The first international biennial named the VIDEO CD 83 in Ljubljana promoted video in our area, instigating and enticing also institutional and broader interest for it. Miha Vipotnik as the director of the three consecutive biennials brought to us the video art of the world, enabled contacts with visiting artists and curators and over time a greater and more noticeable inclusion of Yugoslav video into the international context. At the same time it was also there that more straightforward and constant production relations between television professionals and video artists were established, which led to television being more open to video than before.
Biennial (1983 – 1989) during the early years showcased international video art and television production and with a video workshop at a temporary video studio allowed production; enabling the creation of 22 domestic and international video works. This was an important dimension of the biennial and a distinctive feature in relation to other international video events, which led to the fact of the biennial eventually ranking among the top three most important video festivals in the world.
Biennial was followed by all Yugoslav television stations, TV reports from the festival were prepared by television crews together with young directors of the Belgrade Nova TV and sometimes also in cooperation with artists; i.e. the art group Frigo.
Videogram 4 is the umbrella title for the complex project of procedural nature that Miha Vipotnik had developed with a number of colleagues at the studios of RTV Ljubljana over a period of three years (1976-1979) noted in the annals of Slovenian contemporary art as the beginning of experimental video and multimedia art.
Vipotnik was the first to manage working with professional equipment in a television studio and at the same time to utilise video technology for personal use. He explored the characteristics of video technology as well as the potential, structure and aesthetic effect of electronic image. The events in the studio were structured to a synthesiser score written by Al Stone, the bass player of the group Na lepem prijazni (Nice all of the Sudden) and the activity diagram by Miha Vipotnik, filmed by four cameras, whereas the fifth camera captured the action in the control room. The guidelines became less and less constricting over the course of three consecutive shootings for everyone involved; the technicians, cameramen and performers (Andrej Trobentar, painter and singer of the group Na lepem prijazni (Nice all of the Sudden); Maja Boh, actress and Dušan Rogelj, radio announcer). MV directed and edited the film in real time and edited four two-inch magnetic (open) videotapes, as well as the fifth tape of the same format but transferred to VCR format, intended for multimedia projection at the gallery (the length of all tapes - 28 minutes - was dictated by the musical score).
Event in the gallery (Multivizija, Rihard Jakopič art exhibition area, Ljubljana, 1979) was a one of a kind combination of installation and performance, a mix of video, film, photography and music. At that time is was an exceptional installation, which dematerialised space to an all-encompassing image: using revolving mirrors and prisms in the space of the gallery four video tapes were shown on the monitors accompanied by original music, four films on super8 projectors as well as slides on nine slide projectors.
Broadcasting the video on television was not planned at first, but soon after Multivizija in 1979 the fifth tape (Medijozonija) was broadcast on TV Ljubljana as an experimental programme. It was announced as an »exceptionally rare television event, if not an entirely new experience« and even warned the viewers before the broadcast »that the disturbances and static in the image and sound of the programme are part of it and that they don’t need to fix the image on their television sets«. This »deconstruction of broadcasting« was a complete unravelling of space and time into fragments, production set and staring into the camera. The electronic image was unbelievably layered and at the time surprisingly transformed (repeated exposure, frozen image, solarisation, fading in and out, feedback, synthetic changes of colour and electronically generated moving images) and edited, syncopated sound, at times silent, at others shrieking. Using a synthesiser and a mixing console, Vipotnik produced an analytical and experimental type of video with all possible transformation processes and layering of electronic images available at the time. The performers and objects in the television studio were incorporated into electronic sensations - an endless layering of perforated and broken images of over-saturated colours (leading back to white and back to the originally filmed image).
Video was an integral element of the alternative scene and at the same time its (media) effect and the viewers recognised themselves in it and through interpellation established themselves as key figures and the community. It also developed specific production and presentation dimensions: in a space between documentary, stage performances and fabrication it introduced new semantic codes and a critical view of the connectedness of social mechanisms of the upper class with the libidinal structure of the individual. In addition to (Polaroid) photography and photocopy machine video was the "instant" medium, which was accessible, cheap and fast, while at the same time not subjected to control and censorship.
Also »discovered« television and film recordings video artists were quick to own, disassemble, transcode and shift meaning and display them in another context, not as family television, but at »locations of diversity« as events. At the ŠKUC Gallery where video was an important part of the programme a video-box-bar was playing videos selected by the visitors and a video club in FV Disco. In the eighties showing videos was a lot easier and less constrained than today, not limited by copyright nor any other prohibitions.
In the viewing room you can project a video on demand as well as scroll through the video archive DIVA Station produced by SCCA-Ljubljana.
When ŠKUC opened its own premises at Stari trg 21 in Ljubljana in 1978, its activities could also flourish in those fields that required a permanent space and permanent audience for their programs, in particular the fine art and film sections. In the years that followed, Škuc film productions (production, programming, and distribution) became quite referential, importantly co-shaping the Ljubljana alternative scene. Including numerous authors, editors and other collaborators, the film section ended up having a loyal audience and a regular column in Ekran (Screen) magazine, entitled “Škuc’s Showcase”. In the first half of the 1980s, a great many art and experimental films that could not be seen elsewhere were screened at ŠKUC. Film series, retrospectives, oeuvres, themed selections, and small-scale festivals triggered discussions and led to many a film, video, or text. These lively activities were based on an openness to new forms of film production and artistic experiments, and on an expertly conceived international program. Moreover, they were an attempt to break the monopoly of the Viba Film production house, and set up a venue for artistic film screening and an alternative distribution network.
The television program Platform: The Eighties – from the Disco Club to Television is yet another exhibition venue. The 1980s saw some radical changes in music, video aesthetics, and television. From the current perspective, television was the main mass media in the 1980s. In Slovenia, however, public television restricted access to popular culture for a long time, but the breakthrough of video art into its programming, and consequently music videos, changed all that. How did the artists Srečo Dragan, Miha Vipotnik, Marko Kovačič, and Keller and music groups Pankrti, Borghesia, and Laibach change television, and thereby culture? What was the role of the unique festival Video Biennial organized in Cankarjev dom? Artists deconstructed the televised image, using it as a tool in their new forms of artistic expression. The Ljubljana alternative scene, on the other hand, wanted to make its own programs that would differ from those shown on national television, which formed part of the ideological state apparatus. What were the connections between the alternative scene, art, and television in the 1980s, when a radical, unprecedented fusion of sound and vision occurred, bringing the possibility of combining various means of expression, from experimental film and performance to popular culture? (Program “Platforma: Osemdeseta - od disko kluba do televizije” (Platform: The Eighties – from the Disco Club to Television), TV Slovenia 1, 10 April 2017, author: Saša Šavel Burkart, directed by: Jaka Šuligoj)