At the +MSUM, several exhibitions of works from Moderna galerija’s collections have been staged, with special emphasis on the Arteast 2000+ collection. Arteast 2000+ is the first museum collection conceived with a focus on Eastern European postwar avant-garde art in a broader international context. Since its inception in 2000, the collection has become well known for providing a comprehensive overview of the art in the region. Similarly, it is recognized for the insight it provides into certain shared sociopolitical issues that are or were of central concern for the artists in the formerly socialist countries, outlining as it does the developments from the 1960s through the transition period in the 1990s to the present-day context of global neoliberal capitalism. In 2011, Arteast 2000+ became the core of the newly founded Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM), which operates as part of Moderna galerija, Ljubljana.
The first exhibition staged at +MSUM, The Present and Presence, dealt with various kinds of time. It was followed by nine partial variations on the first show, all in the conceptual framework of “repetition” devised as yet another dimension of time, and titled according to the different focuses of the shows – The Street, Micropolitical Situations, Install Yourself!, The Time of Intimate Decisions, and so on.
In 2016, Low-Budget Utopias dealt with the concept of collection as a tool. The exhibition aimed to establish which museum model would suit best the predominantly unfavorable working conditions of both artists and institutions in the post-socialist world, as well as interests that favor otherness over identity, knowledge production over unambiguous cultural trophies, and the process of becoming over institutionalization. The answer proposed by the exhibition was the utopian concept of a sustainable museum.
The new display foregrounds four sections loosely grouped together under the headings: women, monuments, science – art, and pavilions.
The first group comprises works by Marina Abramović, Geta Brătescu, Vlasta Delimar, Olja Grubić, Katalin Ladik and Maja Smrekar. All the works revolve around the body – political, exhausted, human-animal, female-male, archetypical, and pornographic.
In a 1974 performance, Marina Abramović displayed her body as an object in a gallery space for six hours, letting the visitors do whatever they wanted with her. In a wall installation and drawings, Geta Brătescu presents allusive forms that look like prostheses for a maimed, worn-out body. In her collages, Sanja Iveković juxtaposes dualities of the collective and personal, the political and intimate, and within this, the male and female. Vlasta Delimar transformed her wedding ceremony to Željko Jerman into a performance, while Katalin Ladik combined folkloristic, archetypical, and shamanic elements with poetry in a happening in 1971. In her performance, Olja Grubić presented the classic stereotypes of female and male sexuality, the organic, the floral, the sensual, as well as the hardcore erotic, the media and the pornographic. Maja Smrekar’s project reflects on humanism that posits nature as the Other, placing humans on top of the pyramid to dominate all living organisms.
The second group of works revolves around the topic of monuments and is related to the documentary exhibition about such edifices erected in Slovenia to remember WWII at the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was developed at the seminar “Art for Collective Use” at the Department of Art History of the University of Ljubljana, in cooperation with Moderna galerija. Arjan Pregl’s image is based on a photograph of a public sculpture by Drago Tršar, from which Pregl has “removed” the monument, replacing it with an appropriately enlarged decorative “hobby” sculpture. György Galántai's performance, carried out together with Julia Klaniczay and Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, was about deconstructing communist symbols (and rattling the chain of the repressive authorities in Hungary) by recreating the composition of Vera Mukhina’s sculpture Worker and Kolkhoz Woman (1937). Zofia Kulik’s self-portrait with a palace is based on two opposite forms: the Baroque painting The Assumption and the “Stalinist-Gothic” Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. In Again and Again, David Maljković combines diverse parts and elements of installations from various unexpected constructions found in the museum storage rooms with abandoned buildings and monuments to recent history, juxtaposing them into apparently incongruous structures. Last but not least, this group comprises three projects or actions – by the art groups OHO and IRWIN and artists Janez Janša, Janez Janša, and Janez Janša – that focus on Mt Triglav as the allegoric geographical, national and state symbol and on related historically constituted identities.
The third section consists of selected works from the field of art-science. Here belong the pioneer of computer art Edvard Zajec, Marko Peljhan, an artist and researcher at the intersection of art, technology and science, Vadim Fishkin, whose work What’s on the Other Side? shows constructional inventiveness, cosmic thinking, and, most typically, references to current scientific explorations. Vuk Ćosić often uses ASCII graphics in his artistic projects as a visual and technological relic from the history of computer technologies which has now passed into hacker folklore. His ASCII projects are part of his reflections on the social reception of technological advancements. The BridA/Tom Kerševan, Sendi Mango, Jurij Pavlica collective brings together video, photography, sound and motion tracking in their Trackeds, for which the artists developed special software. Based on the use of high-tech tools and the logic of suprematism and constructivism, the project of Dunja Zupančič, Miha Turšič and Dragan Živadinov is an exploration into post-gravity art. Andrej Škufca’s Xenomorphic Objects installation consists of wavy or furrowed black plastic boards with still visible traces of product design, but no longer intended for human bodies. Darko Fritz’s work is the Chronology of (New) Tendencies, the movement that started as an exhibition of instruction-based, algorithmic generative art in Zagreb in 1961 and then evolved into an international movement and network of artists, gallerists, art critics, historians and theoreticians.
The fourth section includes a presentation of OHO, a neo-avant-garde group frobm the 1960s, and Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK), an art collective that constructed their artistic context in the 1980s following the retro method. These works are assembled around two pavilions as flexible and autonomous architectural structures, focusing, rather than just on the art object, on artistic production, raising the question of how sustainable structures for collecting, keeping and presenting “sites of sustainability” should be constructed in the post-socialist world. Related to the works by OHO is Ištvan Išt Huzjan’s artist’s book, which draws an analogy between the Korean Avant-Garde Association from the late 1960s and early 1970s and OHO.
Selected works from Moderna galerija’s national collections and from Arteast 2000+:
Marina Abramović | Miroslav Bałka | Walter Benjamin | Geta Brătescu | BridA | Barbara Čeferin | Vuk Čosić | Vlasta Delimar | Vadim Fiškin | György Galántai | Olja Grubić | Jenny Holzer | Ištvan Išt Huzjan | IRWIN | Sanja Iveković | Janez Janša & Janez Janša & Janez Janša | Staš Kleindienst | Komar & Melamid | Neven Korda Andrič | Zofia Kulik | Katalin Ladik | David Maljković | chronology of [New] Tendences (Darko Fritz) | Neue Slowenische Kunst (IRWIN, Laibach, Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre & New Collectivism | OHO (Marko Pogačnik, Miljenko Matanovič, David Nez, Andraž Šalamun) | Alen Ožbolt | Marko Peljhan | Dan Perjovschi | Marika & Marko Pogačnik | Darinka Pop - Mitić | Marjetica Potrč | Kiril Prashkov | Arjan Pregl | Maja Smrekar | Tone Stojko | Andrej Škufca | Jane Štravs | Slaven Tolj | TV Gallery | Lawrence Weiner | Dunja Zupančič::Miha Turšič::Dragan Živadinov | Edvard Zajc | Konstantin Zvezdochotov
Also forming part of the exhibition are two special projects: