Mala galerija - Moderna galerija, Ljubljana
(Slovenska cesta 35)

19 October - 12 November 2006

You are kindly invited to attend the opening of the exhibition on Thursday, 19 October, at 8 p.m. at the Mala galerija, preceded by a press conference on the occasion of the publication of the IRWIN RETROPRINCIP book at 7 p.m.

The group Irwin was established in 1983; in 1984 it was one of the founding members of Neue Slowenische Kunst. Irwin members: Dušan Mandi (Ljubljana, 1954), Miran Mohar (Novo mesto, 1958), Andrej Savski (Ljubljana, 1961), Roman Uranjek (Trbovlje, 1961), Borut Vogelnik (Kranj, 1959).

Irwin is one of the preeminent artists' groups not only in Slovenia, but also in the world. It has been exhibiting since 1983 (the first two solo shows were staged in Disko FV and at the Kapelica gallery, both in Ljubljana). To date, the group has exhibited at virtually all important exhibition venues worldwide; this year in Stuttgart (Stuttgart Kunstverein: On Difference), Vienna (Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig: Works from the Collection of Erste Bank), Malmö (Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art: Normalization), Riga, Tehran, Saint Petersburg, Heidelberg, New York (Museum of Modern Art: Eye on Europe: Prints, Books and Multiples 1960 to Now), Sarajevo, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, and in Slovenia at the Gallery Gregor Podnar (Venture II in Like to Like) and the Moderna galerija (Interrupted Histories and Arteast Collection 2000+23).

Irwin has also edited two significant publications: East Art Map (New Moment Magazine, Ljubljana 2002) and East Art Map, Contemporary Art in Eastern Europe (Afterall, London 2006). These "maps of the art of the East" are the fruits of the labor of numerous artists - in addition to Irwin - from twenty countries, who participated in selecting the most momentous and pivotal events, works, and ideas that had crucially influenced the development and understanding of art in the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe.

Irwin's project called Like to Like (2003 - 2004) consists of six large-scale color photographs presenting actions and projects in landscape. For anyone familiar with Slovene art after 1945, the images are easily recognizable as projects of the group OHO (originally carried out between 1968 and 1970).

However, Irwin appropriated the OHO projects not by using the original photographs, but by re-staging the original actions. This difference is strikingly accentuated by the use of the spectacular possibilities of contemporary photography.

We should of course connect this project to the most fundamental principles of Irwin's work. The group has described their basic working method (besides the principle of collective work) as the Retro-Principle. An essential aspect of this principle is their programmatic eclecticism. What they depict and combine in their works are other images and symbols.

Irwin, therefore, did an interesting shift. They repeated the projects, but the composition of the images remains clearly based on (although not identical with) the OHO documentary photographs. With the decision to re-stage the actions, Irwin actually went back to the original logic of the OHO group. They did not use "external" imagery from the documentary photographs, but the original OHO concepts that can be (as we said) materially executed and repeated anywhere and anytime. On the other hand, Irwin's works of art are not actions as such, but the photographs (made by a professional photographer Toma Gregori ). What they present, therefore, are not just OHO actions, but OHO as a phenomenon that already belongs to the history of art and culture.

(Excerpted from the text by Igor Zabel in the catalogue, 2004.)

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