International Biennial of Contemporary Art Ljubljana,
23 June - 24 September 2000
News Archive
Micro Talks
Cankarjev Dom
M1 & M2

The position occupied by Slovenia and its capital city, Ljubljana, is of great interest. Ljubljana, for example, lies quite near cities such as Venice, Zagreb, Graz, Vienna and Munich. There are close cultural links with several of these cities and the surrounding regions. Slovenia is a small, but geographically and culturally extremely rich and diverse country; it is at the intersection of different regions, such as the Alps, the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Plain. Ljubljana is a picturesque city with a mediaeval quarter, Art Nouveau and modernist districts and a strong architectural and urbanistic contribution by Joze Plecnik and, later, Edvard Ravnikar; today, it is undergoing a process of rapid transformation.

The artistic and cultural life of Ljubljana is rich, especially for a city with not more than 300.000 inhabitants: literature, music, visual arts, theatre, architecture, new media and other areas are strongly represented. In the visual arts, for example, there is a strong tradition of modernist and avant-garde art. In recent times there have been exciting developments in contemporary Slovene art. Besides the well-established, internationally recognised artists, such as the Irwin group and the Neue Slowenische Kunst movement, Marjetica Potrč, Jože Barši, Marina Gržinić and Aina Šmid, Tadej Pogačar and others, there is an extremely interesting and active generation of younger artists who have begun to play a role on the international scene. This generation includes such artists as Marko Peljhan, Maja Licul, Apolonija Šušteršič, Nika Špan or Janja Žvegelj, to name only a few. The main points of interest to this new generation include issues related to the body and new technologies, critical research into the social and institutional conditions and contexts of artistic production, and the search for possible strategies of resistance. A very active group of net artists is gathered around the Ljudmila (Ljubljana Digital Media Lab) Centre.

It is worth mentioning that a significant aspect of the Ljubljana art scene is its growing interest in the contemporary art and culture of Eastern Europe. This has a direct bearing on the fact that, by choosing Ljubljana as the host city, Manifesta is, for the first time, moving outside the western world. Geographically, historically and culturally, Slovenia and Ljubljana are in an in-between position between Eastern and Western Europe, but also between Central Europe and the Mediterranean; therefore, they offer a standpoint which provides a different view of the complex relationship between East and West.

A number of museums and galleries exhibit contemporary art in Ljubljana on a regular basis. Moderna galerija Ljubljana (the Museum of Modern Art) is the national museum of modern and contemporary art; it also has a strong exhibition programme of Slovene and international contemporary art. The International Centre of Graphic Art is an institution devoted primarily to printmaking; it also organizes the Ljubljana Graphics Biennial, one of the largest and oldest graphics exhibitions in general. The Kapelica Gallery shows radical, sometimes transgressive art and places a special emphasis on performance work; Stelarc, Orlan, Oleg Kulik and Ron Athey are among the international artists who have appeared here. Škuc Gallery presents innovative and questioning works by young artists, including, recently, Olaf Nicolai, Michael von Hausswolf and Yuri Leiderman. A considerable number of other galleries present contemporary art, including Mestna galerija (Municipal Gallery), Equrna Gallery and Gallery P74. The Soros Center for Contemporary Arts plays an important role in supporting contemporary art, in all its manifestations.

Quite apart from its prominent role in the visual arts, Ljubljana provides a strong basis for experimental work in a number of related fields, including theatre, dance, architecture and critical theory. In addition to the “official” institutions for the performing arts, Ljubljana boasts a long tradition of alternative, avant-garde and experimental theatre, dating back to the 1950s and still very much alive. Another important tradition in the Slovene theatre is the taste for spectacular and often very grandiose “total works of art”. Today, contemporary dance plays an extremly important part in the theatrical life of the city; the internationally recognized coreographers and dance groups from Ljubljana include Plesni teater Ljubljana, Matjaz Farič, Iztok Kovač and the En-Knap group, the Betontanc group, and others. Ljubljana has a strong architectural tradition and Jože Plečnik, in particular, has left an indelible mark on the city. The older generation of architects belonging to modernist and postmodernist traditions still exercise a strong influence on the physical form and layout of the city. However, it is interesting to observe the ways in which a younger generation is increasingly making an impact on the fabric of the urban environment through interdisciplinary collaborations and unconventional designs. Several theoretical and philosophical groupings have developed in Ljubljana -- among them, the so-called Ljubljana Lacanian school, of which Slavoj Žižek is probably internationally the most famous representative. A number of other groups exercise considerable influence on art criticism and art production, and on critical writings on the theatre, architecture, film, etc.

Address: Manifesta 3, Cankarjev Dom, Prešernova 10, SI - 1000 Ljubljana. Slovenia
phone: (+386 61) 1767143, 210956 fax: (+386 61) 217431 e-mail: