New Acquisitions in the Moderna galerija Collections

Irwin (Andrej Savski), Malevich between Two Wars (Ktitor), 1998

3 July - 30 September 2007
Mala galerija, Slovenska c. 35, Ljubljana

Zemira Alajbegović & Neven Korda, Yuri Avvakumov, Irwin, Mladen Stilinović, Vlado Stjepić
While the permanent display of works from the Moderna galerija collections has been taken down due to the renovation works in the museum, a selection of works recently purchased for the collections is on show at the Mala galerija. The exhibition will be on view till 2 September 2007.

Zemira Alajbegovic, Neven Korda

In the early 1990s, the duo Alajbegović-Korda merged "the alternative" and "the institutional," video and film, and made the first Slovene "video film" Intolerance (1991), which - unexpectedly for its authors - triggered a serious debate in Slovenia on the difference between film and video. What turned out to be problematic was the visual deconstruction of narration in the video spots of Borghesia, stemming, above all, from the fascination with the possibilities the postproduction technology offered for dealing with the script, the duration, and other aspects of film production. At the time Intolerance was made, the image purportedly "carried" the narration, which was determined by its social space. In the circumstances of the vacuum or the "void" in social space, left by one sociopolitical system disintegrating and a new one not having replaced it yet, this was extremely difficult. The void had to be represented by a void, i.e., without any naturalistic, illusionistic, or other similar approaches. Visual pleasure had to be disciplined into a strict concept; just how revolutionary this experiment was is best seen from the demands for a strictly controlled absence of narration and the polemic concerning issues of (un)faithfulness to the text and the (in)consistency of the medium of video that followed the first screening of Intolerance. (Igor Španjol)

Yuri Avvakumov

Yuri Avvakumov, a sophisticated interpreter of the Russian avant-garde tradition, became the first moderator of the "paper architecture" movement and reintroduced it as a trend on the cultural scene, while arranging exhibitions in the country and abroad. Meanwhile, he developed a project Russian Utopia, a Depository, an archive for visionary architectural projects created in Russia during the last 300 years that had never been carried out - as a claim of a collective Russian dream and as a metaphor of a "columbarium for rejected fantasies." Also, he is known as the author of Temporary Monuments, a widely exhibited series, which he calls "absurd models dedicated to the 1920s." The image of the Tower of Perestroika by Avvakumov for the exhibition Temporary Monuments at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg was designed as an ironic reminiscence of Tatlin's constructivist Monument to the Third International, developing like a scaffolding around the skeleton of Mukhina's Monument to Worker and Farmer, the popular icon of Socialist Realism. Avvakumov's Red Tower, an installation for Gorky Park, was ironically designed to test flying "Letatlin devices" crafted by Vladimir Tatlin. (Anna Sokolina)


One of Irwin's crucial paintings, Malevich between Two Wars, is a direct analysis of the status of Malevich's Suprematism and a typical example of Irwin's retro-principle. The work unites a traditional academy portrait painting, a Suprematist painting by Malevich, and a Nazi sculpture. The Suprematist painting as "pure nonobjectivity" is thus placed in a context where its reading is completely new. But this placing is not as arbitrary and forcible as it may seem at first sight. Malevich's paintings are all painted against a white background, from which first a black square emerges, which then breaks down into other figures and combinations of them until the whole process comes back to the white from which it originated, in White Suprematism (white paintings against a white background). Conversely, Irwin somewhere said: "There is a background against which ideas and objects are constituted; there is no empty square." This also means that Malevich's painting with its background included is constituted against some background. Irwin's painting demonstrates this with the tension between traditional bourgeois painting, modernism, and totalitarian art. (Igor Zabel)

Mladen Stilinović

In a series of photographs, the artist registered elements of ideological propaganda in public space that used to be an unavoidable part of everyday life in socialist society, especially at the time of public holidays. Stilinović systematically documented flags and slogans decorating the streets and more slogans, communist symbols and Tito's portraits in the display windows of shops and offices. The series has several layers. For example, it clearly shows one of the ways in which a particular type of ideology functioned in society, how it entered the public space and everyday life. It also shows how schematic such slogans and symbols actually were, and how they could be effective in spite of their schematic, purely formal nature. They indicate one of the essential paradoxes of the way socialist societies functioned. Nobody, including the ruling elites, seemed to actually believe in the slogans and rituals that governed the life of such societies; they considered them to be pure forms without any actual meaningful content. However, this was enough for the social order to be able to function as usual. It was not necessary for people to believe in rituals, it was enough that they formally complied with them. (Igor Zabel)

Vlado Stjepić

For the abstract painter Vlado Stjepić, photography was never the primary creative medium; for him this was always painting. But in the period when he most enthusiastically reached for his camera, painting, drawing and photography were all intertwined in the same search and focused on the same understanding of the existential dimensions of things and people.

He found subjects for his photographs in the microcosm of his home environment, in a visual dialogue with numerous everyday things that caught his eye and gave him an opportunity to represent both his conscious perception of the material world and the intuitive perception determined by his inner world. The photographs resulted from a close observation of everything inhabiting his immediate surroundings, from the great attention he paid to small objects in his parents house. The artist did not try to project any subjective emotions onto them, but portrayed them as things with their own distinct existence. His approach was rational and restrained, even when he thematized the presence of objects under special light conditions that give objective reality an irrational and mysterious appearance, or when the latter resulted from a merging of realistic details, special light, and the shadows it produced. (Lara Štrumej)

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