SUMMER SCHOOL | Constructing Utopia / Eastern European Avant-Gardes and Their Legacy
24 — 31 August 2018

OHO Group, Seer Guides the Blind Men, 1970, part of a Group schooling in Čezsoča project, bw photo, courtesy Moderna galerija, Ljubljana



Constructing Utopia / Eastern European Avant-Gardes and Their Legacy

Museum of Modern Art plus Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, MG+MSUM

24—31 August 2018, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Moderna galerija Ljubljana is pleased to announce the summer school programme set to run the last week of August 2018.


Aimed at postgraduate students and art professionals interested in Eastern European art, the summer school entitled Constructing Utopia / Eastern European Avant-Gardes and Their Legacy offers courses on its museumisation, interpretation and presentation. The focus of the courses will be on artists, art collectives and the social and political contexts of the post-war avant-gardes, as well as their meaning for both contemporary art and for institutional work.


The one-week summer school, featuring lectures, presentations and workshops, will be held at the Moderna galerija and the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova. All lectures will be open to the public and the admission is free.


Crucially central to the summer school topic is the Arteast 2000+ Collection, consisting as it does of works by such artists as Marina Abramović, Ilya Kabakov, Komar & Melamid, together with other artists from Eastern Europe. In the more than 18 years since the inception of the collection, Moderna galerija has staged some very noteworthy exhibitions in the frame of a series entitled Arteast 2000+ Exhibitions.


Internationally, Moderna galerija is considered to be the leading institution in the region, so its next edition of the Triennial of Contemporary Art U3 will be conceived and assembled around those issues specifically related to the region; and one of the workshops, led by Vít Havránek, will be dedicated to this topic.


The summer school was conceived by Boris Groys, one of the most prominent theorists and curators of Eastern European, especially Russian art, a distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design in Karlsruhe; and Zdenka Badovinac, Director of Moderna galerija, curator, writer and initiator of the Arteast 2000+ Collection.


The workshops will be dedicated exclusively to the summer school participants and will be led by the invited speakers. 


Speakers will include Zdenka Badovinac, Boris Buden, Keti Chukhrov, Eda Čufer, Branislav Dimitrijević, Mladen Dolar, Vít Havránek, Marko Jenko, Lev Kreft, Bojana Piškur, Igor Španjol and Arseny Zhilyaev.


Students' tutors will be Asta Vrečko (researcher at the University of Ljubljana and independent curator) and Adela Železnik (senior curator at the MG+MSUM), with the project coordinated by Sanja Kuveljić-Bandić.


The Summer School will start with two public events: a lecture by artist and theorist Alexi Kukuljevic, and a performance by artist Oleg Kulik, both of whom are, with their work, related to the exhibition Heavenly Beings. Neither Human nor Animal at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova. 






Friday, 24 August 2018, Museum of Modern Art, MG+


18:30 Alexi Kukuljevic, “The Birds is Coming”, lecture

Alexi Kukuljevic is an artist and lecturer in Art Theory at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. He is also part of the exhibition Heavenly Beings. Neither Human nor Animal.

Alexi Kukuljevic examines a distinctive form of subjectivity animating the avant-garde – that of the darkly humorous and utterly disoriented subject of modernity, a dissolute figure that makes an art of its own vacancy, an object of its own absence.


Friday, 24 August 2018, Museum of Modern Art, MG+

20:30 Oleg KulikPressionSuPression, performance

Oleg Kulik is a Ukrainian-born Russian performance artist. From 1996 on, when he became notorious as “a dog who bit a visitor” at the Interpol exhibition in Stockholm, he has been considered one of the most controversial performing artists anywhere. For his performances, Kulik creates a symbolic set of parameters to define the environment he will inhabit in the persona of a dog, then devises a series of actions that unfold as a response. The artist describes the dialogue within his practice as "a conscious falling out of the human horizon" which puts him on his hands and knees. His intention is to describe what he sees as a crisis of contemporary culture, a result of an overly refined cultural language that creates barriers between individuals.

In October 1998 Kulik was invited to present his work at the international performance festival Explicit sexual practices as an art expression that took place at the Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana. Documentation of this performance as well as the one in Stockholm can be seen as part of the exhibition Heavenly Beings. Neither Human nor Animal.


Of his current practice Kulik says: Performance is when you can really produce some reality-on-art action, when reality begins to work as it would never otherwise work.

Where is the art product? There is a history, but there is no fact that you can leave after you. There is no idea of eternity, there is nothing out of you, you have finished the action – the art has ended.






Saturday, 25 August 2018, Moderna galerija, MG+


12:00 | Zdenka Badovinac, Sites of Sustainability: Pavilions, Manifestos, and Crypts, lecture

This lecture will follow up some issues developed around the exhibition The Site of Sustainability: Pavilions, Manifestos, and Crypts (the section of the exhibition Hello World – Revisions of a Collection in Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin).


18:00 | Boris Buden, The Language of the Avant-garde, lecture

Boris Groys’ well-known thesis that the artistic avant-garde succeeded in achieving international recognition but failed to change the world, which was, according to him, its raison d’être, might be understood today from a linguistic perspective. If only an avant-garde that speaks English can strive for and get global recognition, which language should an avant-garde that still pursues its goal of changing the world speak? Is there such a thing as a vernacular avant-garde? And which audience should it address today?


19:00 | Mladen Dolar, Postmodern Irony and NSK, lecture

The concept of irony stretches back to Socratic irony in antiquity, it had its moment of glory with romantic irony (harshly criticized by Hegel and conceptually expounded by Kierkegaard), then it became one of the leading slogans of postmodernity. It seemed to provide the best antidote to the fatal seriousness of modernism. Yet NSK presented a gesture which went adamantly against the grain of irony, a gesture that was completely devoid of all irony and turned this into its defining feature. The lecture wants to explore the tension between the two and further reflect on the status of irony and its possible critical consequences.


Sunday, 26 August 2018, Moderna galerija, MG+


11:00 | Lev Kreft, Politics of the Avant-garde in Central Europe, lecture

Avant-gardes were not the centre of the art world, and Central Europe was never the centre of Europe. However, avant-gardes from Central Europe were more than simply marginal, and they are still absent from the theories of the avant-gardes. Instead, they are just added to and included in the notions produced from other, more central cases. This absence is gigantic, and to name just a few protagonists from the period between the two world wars: Karel Teige, Jaroslav Seifert, Tadeusz Kantor, Srečko Kosovel, August Černigoj, Lajos Kássak, Ljubomir Micić, and Marko Ristić. How do these avant-gardes fit into the dominant mapping which reflects them as Grenzräume, a transitory and borderline provisionality? This asks for an examination of the politics of the avant-garde in Central Europe.


18:00 | Eda Čufer, Play Within a Play: Institutional Critique in Late Socialist Yugoslavia, lecture

The NSK art collective, founded in 1984 in the former Yugoslavia, is known today mostly through the work of the music-art group Laibach and visual-art group Irwin, both of whom remain active. Much less is known about the third founding component of NSK – a short-lived but in its time most cohesive group known as the Scipio Nasica Sister’s Theatre (SNST). Its enigmatic status today is due largely to the fact that it predetermined and executed its own “self-abolishment”. The lecture will show how SNST’s operations during the critical years (1983/87) of the last decade of state socialism in Yugoslavia exposed various contradictory relations between the authority of the late Yugoslav Socialist Federation and its autonomous republics’ institutional apparatuses (such as national Theatres).


19:00 | Branislav Dimitrijević, Thinking by Cutting: Branko Vučićević and a Coy Recurrence of the Avant-garde, lecture

Branko Vučićević (1934-2016) is known for a number of film scripts for acclaimed Yugoslav films, including Innocence Unprotected, Early Works, and The Medusa Raft. However, the activity of this, the only associate of the Fluxus movement in Belgrade, has had many guises and consequences. Although generally overlooked in narratives on the neo-avant-garde art in the former Yugoslavia, or only narrowly considered within the history of cinematography, Vučićević remains a de-centred focal point for any study of the avant-garde modes of “art-thinking” within the Serbian and Yugoslav context – but a study which transcends a medium-specific historiography of art incompatible with such modes of artistic and social thinking.


Monday, 27 August 2018, Moderna galerija, MG+


18:00 | Keti Chukhrov, The Ruptures and Continuities between Avant-garde and Contemporaneity, lecture

The avant-gardes – both first and second – brought art to its zero condition, to its sublation. This self-destructive zeal re-instituted art practice as a conceptual work of mind, but also as a radical and revolutionary modes of socialisation. Contemporary art as the Institute of global contemporaneity hijacked the narratives and lexicons of revolutionary emancipation from both avant-gardes. However, it had to integrate them in various forms of neoliberal globalisation while speaking the language of revolutionary emancipation. This paradigm seems to have collapsed with the election of Donald Trump and the rise of numerous conservative governments all over the world. This deflates both the heritage of emancipation after 1968, as well as the narratives of the avant-garde(s), and raises the following questions: what was irreversibly unmonetisable in the avant-garde? Was the avant-garde a form of radical enlightenment or counter-enlightenment? Can global art's quasi-avant-garde social engagement be treated as progressive, and if not, why?


Tuesday, 28 August 2018, Moderna galerija, MG+


18:00 | Arseny Zhilyaev, (Post)-Avant-Gardist Art. Towards Museification of the Universe, lecture

The lecture is devoted to transformation of museum from late 19th century. to the first decade following the 1917 revolution. Zhilyaev’s interest starts from an understanding of the main artistic institutions in the philosophy of Russian cosmism. The doctrine considers museums as a platform for the unification of science, art, school and church in a “common task”. The Soviet revolution brought other artists’ voices into the discussion. Some of them, like Kazimir Malevich, claimed to have destroyed the institution and burned art history. But many avant-gardists, such as constructivists and productivists, moved on from museums and by this act freed them. Former artistic institutions then started to act as artists themselves. Free from the dilemma of an urgent exit from art, Soviet museum workers opened up a new field of expression beyond the limitations of the past centuries and decades.


Thursday, 30 August 2018, Moderna galerija, MG+


19:00 | Vít Havránek , Subjective Organisations, lecture

The lecture will concentrate on several artists who lived between the 1960s and 1990s in Eastern Europe and made use of procedures known from the world of bureaucracy – the world of public organisations and institutions. It will speak about the authors who replaced, substituted or hid their identity and used instead that of an institution; they thus appeared in the name of an institution and subordinated their actions to its rules, and in this sense we can speak of “institutional production”; of institutions that already existed, of institutions founded as new, or of fictional institutions.


Public events are free of charge.




Zdenka Badovinac is a curator and writer, who has served as Director of the Moderna galerija since 1993 and of the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova in Ljubljana since 2011. She has curated numerous exhibitions presenting both Slovenian and international artists. She initiated the first collection of Eastern European art, Moderna galerija’s Arteast 2000+ Collection. She has been systematically dealing with the processes of redefining history and with the questions of different avant-garde traditions of contemporary art, first with the exhibition Body and the East – From the 1960s to the Present, staged in 1998 at Moderna galerija, Ljubljana. She was the Slovenian Commissioner at the Venice Biennale (1993–1997, 2005, 2017) and Austrian Commissioner at the São Paulo Biennial (2002). From 2011 to 2013 she served as president of CIMAM.

Her recent projects include: 1:1 Stopover co-produced by the Maska Institute at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana (2013); Grammar of Freedom / 5 Lessons: Works from Arteast 2000+ Collection, with Snejana Krasteva and Bojana Piškur, at the Garage Museum, Moscow (2015); NSK from Kapital to Capital. Neue Slowenische Kunst – an Event of the Final Decade of Yugoslavia at Moderna galerija, Ljubljana (2015); Low-Budget Utopias, with Bojana Piškur, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana (2016); NSK from Kapital to Capital. Neue Slowenische Kunst – an Event of the Final Decade of Yugoslavia at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016) and at the Museo Reina Sofía Madrid (2017).


Boris Buden is a writer and cultural critic based in Berlin. He received his Ph.D. in cultural theory from Humboldt University in Berlin. In the 1990s, he was editor of the magazine Arkzin in Zagreb. His essays and articles cover the topics of philosophy, politics, cultural and art criticism. He has participated in various conferences and art projects in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia and USA, including Documenta XI. Buden is the author of Barikade Zagreb (1996/1997), Kaptolski Kolodvor, Belgrade (2001), Der Schacht von Babel, Berlin (2004), Zone des Übergangs, Frankfurt/Main (2009), Findet Europa, Wien (2015), etc.


Keti Chukhrov, Moscow-based art theorist and philosopher. Chukhrov holds a PhD in comparative literature and Doc. Habil. in philosophy. She is an associate professor in the Department of Cultural Studies at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and in 2012-2017 ran the Theory Department at the National Centre for Contemporary Art. She is currently a Marie Curie fellow at Wolverhampton University in the UK. Chukhrov has authored numerous texts on art theory, culture, politics, and philosophy, as well as the books To Be and to Perform. The Concept of “Theatre” in Philosophical Art Criticism (2011) and Pound & £ (1999), and two volumes of dramatic poetry, Just Humans (2010) and War of Quantities (2004).


Eda Čufer is a dramaturge, curator and writer. In 1984 she co-founded the art collective NSK based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She has collaborated with many contemporary theater, dance and visual art groups including the Scipion Nasice Sisters Theater, the dance company En-Knap, the IRWIN group and Marko Peljhan’s Project Atol. Her recent writings are mainly concerned with the ideological dimensions of contemporary art and the relationship of political systems to art systems. These have appeared in magazines like Art Forum and Maska, and in books published by The Museum of Modern Art, MIT Press, Revolver, Afterall Books, Sternberg Press, Whitechapel Gallery, and the catalog of the 2009 Istanbul Biennial. She has curated exhibitions in Germany, Austria, and Italy, including In Search of Balkania, Balkan Visions, and Call Me Istanbul. She recently published a history of dance notation systems, and is now working on a new book project, Art as Mousetrap, with the support of a fellowship from the Arts Writers Grant Program of the Andy Warhol Foundation. Now living in the United States, she remains active with many art projects and groups in Europe.


Branislav Dimitrijević is Professor of the History and Theory of Art at the School for Art and Design in Belgrade. He has been active as a writer and curator, and his main research interests are in the fields of the visual arts, popular culture and film of socialist Yugoslavia. He also writes regularly on contemporary cultural, artistic and political issues in Serbia. His books include On Normality: Art in Serbia 1989-2001 (MSU/MOCA Belgrade, 2005), Against Art - Goran Djordjević, 1979-1985 (MSU/MOCA, Belgrade, 2014) and most recently, Potrošeni socijalizam (Fabrika knjiga, Belgrade, 2016). Dimitrijević holds an MA degree in the history and theory of art from the University of Kent, and received his PhD in cultural studies from the University of Arts in Belgrade for a thesis on the emergence of consumer culture in socialist Yugoslavia. For selected texts and his full CV, see:


Mladen Dolar is Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana. His principal areas of research are psychoanalysis, modern French philosophy, German idealism and art theory. He has lectured extensively at universities in US and across Europe, he is the author of over hundred papers in scholarly journals and collective volumes. Apart from ten books in Slovene, his most notable book publications include A Voice and Nothing More (MIT 2006, translated into five languages) and Opera's Second Death (with Slavoj Žižek, Routledge 2001, also translated into several languages).


Vít Havránek is a curator and art organizer based in Prague. Since 2002 he has been working as a director of the contemporary art organization (, that is constituted as a discursively oriented exhibition space with an international publishing program. He lectures on the history of exhibitions at NC State Prague. Havránek has also been invited to give guest talks on topics ranging from the history of 20th century East European art to issues related to curating at various institutions, such as MIT Boston, Amsterdam University, and Documenta 12, among others. He has curated and co-curated exhibitions at the constellations, such as the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Muzeum Sztuki Łodz, VOX Montréal, New Museum HUB New York, Steirischer Herbst, Graz, Manifesta 8 Murcia, Centro Monthermoso, Espace Electra Paris. Together with the artists, editors and JRP Ringier, Havránek has edited and co-edited several books and catalogues, including those on Eva Koťátková, H.U. Obrist, and Jan Mancuska, as well as the works Atlas to Transformation; Autobiographies; The Need to Document, Lanterna Magika; and action, word, movement, space. His texts have appeared in the books Invisible Adversaries, Green Room, Promesses du passé, and Voids: A Retrospective, as well as numerous art magazines.


Marko Jenko holds a PhD in art history and a degree in French language and literature. Until 2010 he worked as a PhD researcher at the Department of Art History at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Since December 2010 he has worked as a curator for Slovenian 20th century art at Moderna galerija (Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana). In his theoretical work, he focuses primarily on questions concerning the knot between art, art history, theoretical psychoanalysis and philosophy. He has translated works by Gérard Wajcman, Daniel Arasse, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Rancière, Gilles Deleuze, Jean Starobinski, David Freedberg, Monique David-Ménard and others into Slovenian.


Lev Kreft is a cultural worker, politician and university professor. Educated to become a philosopher, Kreft’s orientations are aesthetics and the philosophy of sport. In research he has dealt with the history of aesthetics, with the aesthetics of avant-gardes, as well as with Marxist aesthetics, Marxism and Marx. Next to those topics, he has published on post-modernism and cultural turns, on conflicting points of cultural history as well as on theories of contemporary art. His most recent books are Left Sky-Hook (2011), on the philosophy of sport, and Aestheticians Studio (2015). Somewhat retired, he lives and lectures in Ljubljana.


Bojana Piškur graduated in art history from the University of Ljubljana and received her Ph.D. at the Institute for Art History at the Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic. She is a senior curator at the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana. Her research focuses on political issues and the way in which they relate to, or are manifested in, the field of art looking specifically at the regions of former Yugoslavia and Latin America. She has contributed to numerous publications and lectured extensively on topics such as post avant-gardes in former Yugoslavia, radical education, cultural politics in self-management, and the Non-Aligned Movement. She initiated Radical Education Collective in 2006 (active until 2014). Related exhibitions and projects include Glossary of Common Knowledge (with Zdenka Badovinac and Jesús Carrillo), MG Ljubljana in the frame of L'Internationale, 2013-2017; This is All Film. Experimental Film in Yugoslavia 1951–1991 (with Ana Janevski, Jurij Meden and Stevan Vuković), Moderna galerija Ljubljana, 2010; Museum of Affects (with Bartomeu Mari, Bart De Baere, Teresa Grandas and Leen de Backer), Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova 2010, Politicization of Friendship, +MSUM Ljubljana, 2015, Grammar of Freedom / Five Lessons (with Zdenka Badovinac and Snejana Krasteva), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, 2015.


Igor Španjol (1972) studied sociology of culture and art history at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana. Since 1999 he has worked as a curator for the Moderna galerija, Ljubljana. His major projects include: the exhibition trilogy Slovene Art 1975–2005 (with Igor Zabel, 2003–2005), a series of exhibitions in Moderna galerija’s project space Mala galerija (Andrei Monastirsky, 2007; Danica Dakić, Harun Farocki, Sašo Sedlaček, 2008; Deimantas Narkevičius, Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec, Silvia Kolbowski, 2009; David Maljković, 2010), the collection display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (with Zdenka Badovinac and Bojana Piškur, 2011), Art in Slovenia 2005–15 (with Bojana Piškur and Vladimir Vidmar, 2015), and retrospectives of contemporary Slovene artists Tomaž Lavrič (2010), Marko Peljhan (2011), Marko Pogačnik (2012), Tadej Pogačar (2014), Vadim Fishkin (2015) and Srečo Dragan (2016).


Arseny Zhilyaev is an artist based in Moscow and Venice. His projects examine the legacy of Soviet museology and museums based on the philosophy of Russian Cosmism, using exhibitions as a medium. The artist's works have been shown at biennales in Gwangju, Liverpool, Lyon and the Ljubljana Triennale, as well as at exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; de Appel, Amsterdam; HKW, Berlin; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris and San Francisco; V-a-c Foundation, Moscow and Venice, among others. Zhilyaev graduated from the Philosophy Faculty of Voronezh State University, (2006); Moscow Institute of Contemporary Art (2008); and MA International Programs, Valand School of Fine Arts, Goteborg, Sweden (2010). Zhilyaev publishes articles in the journals e-flux, Idea, Moscow Art Magazine and others. He is an editor of the anthology Avant-Garde Museology (e-flux, University of Minnesota Press, V-a-c Press, 2015). Recent accolades include Russian awards in the sphere of contemporary art, and a nomination for the Visible Award in 2013.



The Summer School: Constructing Utopia / Eastern European Avant-Gardes and Their Legacy is a part of a four-year programme Our Many Europes led by L'Internationale confederation of museums. Supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the EU Creative Europe Programme.


We recommend