In the summer of 2016, the 8th Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia – U3 is opening at the Museum of Modern Art. Its topic is the cosmos. This time the curator of the triennial is Boris Groys, eminent art critic, media theorist, curator, and philosopher.
All Slovenia-based artists who wish to participate in the exhibition are invited to send us their short proposals, which should include:
- a concept of a project that relates to the exhibition topic,
- a short biography,
- a list of major exhibitions and possible other projects, and a short bibliography,
- visual documentation of their work over the past three years,
- a contact email and phone number.
The selector will decide which artists to include in the exhibition on the basis of their presentations. Museum of Modern Art will participate in the realization of the display to the best of its abilities but cannot guarantee the financing of the production of individual works.
Please submit your proposals by no later than 31 December 2015 at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail at: Moderna galerija, Windischerjeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana. Write U3 in the attention line on the envelope.
The main topic of the 2016 Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia – U3 will be the cosmos. In our cultural imagination, the cosmos functions as a code word for the danger of the final extinction of life on Earth and at the same time for the most radical utopian aspiration for universal harmony.
In the time of globalisation we have learned that we are dependent on everything that happens around the globe – politically, economically, and ecologically. But the Earth is not isolated in the cosmos. It depends on the processes that take place in the cosmic space – on dark matter, waves and particles, star explosions and galactic collapses. And the fate of humankind also depends on these cosmic processes, because all these cosmic waves and particles go through human bodies. This dependence of humankind on cosmic events, which are uncontrollable and even unknown, is the source of a specifically modern anxiety. One could say, cosmic anxiety. The anxiety of being a part of the cosmos – and not able to control it. Not accidentally, our contemporary mass culture is obsessed with visions of asteroids coming from black cosmic space and destroying the Earth, or of aliens coming out the cosmic blackness with the goal to destroy the human race.
But this anxiety has also subtler forms. An example of that would be the theory of the “accursed share” developed by Georges Bataille. According to this theory, the Sun always sends more energy to Earth than Earth can absorb, including all of the organisms living on its surface. After all the efforts to use this energy for the production of goods and to raise the living standards of the population there still remains the non-absorbed, non-used rest of solar energy. This surplus of energy is necessarily destructive – it can only be spent through violence and war. Or, at least, through ecstatic festivals and sexual orgies that channel and absorb this excess energy. Thus, human culture and politics become determined by cosmic energies – forever shifting between order and chaos.
However, the cosmic space presents itself at the same time as the last frontier – the last chance of genuine human endeavor. The exploration of the cosmos does not have any immediate utilitarian function (except perhaps a military one) and is thus similar to the Romantic ideal of art and poetry. Before and after the Russian Revolution, artists of the Russian avant-garde saw the cosmos as the true place for the communist society – beyond all the borders that divide men of Earth. The hope that contact with the cosmic space will make all the cultural and ethnic divisions irrelevant can also be found in many sci-fi novels and films. In our time of identity politics the cosmos functions as the last remaining horizon of universalism – not religious or ideological, but materialist universalism. The cosmos unites not our souls, but our bodies, integrating them into universal material processes. At the same time, however, space technology is experienced as a tool of surveillance and, eventually, of the coming nuclear war.
Thus, as a topic of an exhibition, the cosmos offers many possibilities for artistic exploration. The connection between artistic and scientific imagination is the most obvious one. But also an analysis of the sci-fi culture, perspectives of corporeal immortality, critique of contemporary technology etc.