The Present and Presence: Repetition 3 - The Street

Dan Perjovschi, Artist, 2008, drawing

January- June 2013
Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Maistrova 3, Ljubljana

Chto delat?, Nuša and Srečo Dragan, Tomislav Gotovac, Irwin, Milan Knížák, OHO, Dan Perjovschi, Tadej Pogačar & P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. Museum of Contemporary Art, Lotty Rosenfeld, Martina Ruhsam & Vlado Repnik, Škart, Endre Tót, Goran Trbuljak, Želimir Žilnik, a selection of videos from the EVR Archive, and the Museum in the Streets archive

Curated by: Zdenka Badovinac, Bojana Piškur, Igor Španjol

Starting on Friday, 18 January 2013, our exhibition The Present and Presence is on view with a new twist: Repetition 3 - The Street. Works have been added or brought into focus in two rooms on the first floor and on the ground floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, where you will also find Dan Perjovschi's poster. The film by Nuša and Srečo Dragan is screened at the Moderna galerija, Cankarjeva 15. The works comprising the Repetition 3 - The Street selection are marked with Dan Perjovschi's stamp.

The exhibition The Present and Presence: Repetition 3 - The Street again focuses on lived time, this time limiting the presentation to the works made in public space - more specifically, in the streets. Included in this new display of works largely from the Moderna galerija national collection and the Arteast 2000+ collection is the archive of the project Museum in the Streets, organized by Moderna galerija in 2008, during the renovation of our main museum building, when no funding was allotted for the exhibitions program.
The reason Repetition 3 is so focused on art in the streets is quite plain. Over the last two years, the streets have, once again, become our other physical body, not only in Slovenia, but all over the world: a physical space where we breathe the same air as the others, where we are relearning to shout, where we write our own placards and pick out favorites among those written by others. After we had, it seemed, teetered on the brink of losing the streets and the squares, when we seemed to have moved into virtual worlds, the physical world has again started to recoup its value. The good old streets are accessible to the poor and the rich alike, to the old and the young, to those on Facebook and those without profiles. Everyone can bring their body, their voice, their thought, and their anger to the streets and the squares; and it works like group therapy, where every gesture, at least momentarily, seems to be effective and to serve some common goal. We have almost forgotten how important it is to express ourselves, and express ourselves with our entire bodies. We are relearning participation, endurance, and repetition. With every demonstration it is becoming increasingly clear that what we are seeing happening in the streets in Slovenia is not merely a revolt against the politics of austerity measures and cuts in public funding, most acutely felt in education, healthcare, and culture. The people in the streets are rebelling against neoliberal autocrats and corrupt(ed) powers that be, and merging into a forum demanding the preservation of the fundamental basis of the democratic state: the rule of law and equality in access to education, healthcare, and culture for all.

During the time of socialist rule, the public manifestations carried out in the streets by the artists from Eastern Europe, whose works are kept in our Arteast 2000+ collection, were gestures for democracy. When three members of the OHO Group draped themselves in black fabric in 1968, to enact, with their bodies unified into one with their three heads sticking out, the three-headed Mt Triglav, a symbol of Slovenia, their act presented a disruption in the gray everyday socialist life in Ljubljana. Tomislav Gotovac protested against the lack of freedom by streaking through the streets of Belgrade, and Milan Knížák by inviting passersby to join him in his demonstration by crowing. Endre Tót staged demonstrations carrying placards with zeros written on them. At a recent demonstration in Ljubljana, the group Irwin carried placards with the circular scheme of the Coca-Cola bottle top and a slogan taken from a campaign for the same beverage: Time for a New State. While Tót's zeros stood, decades ago, for empty ideological speech, the Coca-Cola bottle-top circles speak of the invisible power of multinational capital. In another totalitarian regime, Lotty Rosenfeld used white tape to make large white crosses in the streets; her performance carried great symbolic weight and meaning under Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. The Chto Delat? platform organized a visualization of a Brecht poem in St. Petersburg in 2005; the poem was displayed by "engaged" sandwich people on the same spot where the Russian Revolution had begun 100 years earlier. During the time of the Milošević regime in Serbia, the Škart collective carried out the notorious street action Your Shit - Your Responsibility, and Vlado Repnik and Martina Ruhsam organized the Blank_Protest in 2008, a demonstration without any demands or slogans, representing an "anomaly in the dictionary of political jargon".

The Present and Presence: Repetition 3 - The Street also includes the archive of the Museum in the Streets show from 2008. During the renovation of the Moderna galerija's main (and then only) building, the Ministry of Culture did not provide a venue or funding for our public program. For this reason we decided to organize the Museum in the Streets project, to draw attention to our situation: the central national institution for modern and contemporary art was closed for three years and would have remained virtually without program if not for such near-protest projects. That (unsupported) situation has again repeated itself over the past two years since our Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova opened. We now have twice the exhibition space to work in, but not a single additional employee, while our program funds have been reduced to less than the total we were allotted while working in just a single building. The history of street art helps us develop our potential of free creativity under conditions in which art and culture are losing the support and protection that would (otherwise) enable them to carry out their vital public mission.

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