IRWIN. Planting Seedsa comprehensive solo exhibition of Irwin's work
After the Italian exhibition at the Galleria Civica di Modena in spring 2014, and the German step at the Kunsthalle Osnabruck in autumn 2015, the third stage of the international project dedicated to the Slovenian group IRWIN and their collaboration strategies, curated by Julia Draganović and Claudia Löffelholz of LaRete Art Projects, takes place at the Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdansk from May 13th – July 17th, 2016.
The story of the Slovenian artists’ collective starts in 1983 with the spontaneous collaboration between young artists from the punk and graffiti scenes in Ljubljana: Dušan Mandič, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek and Borut Vogelnik came together to found the group Rrose Irwin Sélavy, named in honour of the female pseudonym of Marcel Duchamp. In 1984, in collaboration with the music group Laibach and the Gledališče sester Scipion Nasice theatre company, they founded a broader artists’ collective, known as Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK, i.e. New Slovenian Art), which was later to draw in other artists’ collectives ranging from graphics and video art to philosophy. Collaboration and sharing are the basis and the inevitable consequence of IRWIN and Neue Slowenische Kunst, which became both a political and social force within the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. With the fall of socialism at the start of the ‘90s, the foundations of their artistic outlook changed radically, and in 1992 Neue Slowenische Kunst was turned into the NSK State in Time. Mirroring the emergence of a multitude of new states, the NSK Collective decided to objectivize their own nature in the form of a state. Not a territorial one, but a state of thought, expressed via their public appearances in cultural projects, through which their image and contents were outlined, establishing a dense network of relationships among its citizens, the number of whom grew steadily thanks to the various initiatives that they took part in. After more than 30 years, IRWIN is now the longest-standing collective on the international artistic scene (with the exception of artistic groups who are also partners in life, such as Gilbert & George or Eva & Adele).
The exhibition at the Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdansk focuses on the collaboration strategies of the group, both within the collective itself – which gives space for each single member to adopt highly different languages – and their collaboration with others, including the ongoing NSK State in Time project. A further core theme of the show is devoted to IRWIN's works and interventions in the public space which belong to their artistic practice and will document some of their pivotal works like the cycle "Transcentrala, New York, Moscow, Ljubljana" with documents of IRWIN works in the cities mentioned in the title, including their intervention on the Red Square in Moscow, the NSK Garda series – collaborations with different Armies in public space - and the remake of the public art projects by the Slovenian group OHO.
“Planting Seeds” is a major survey of IRWINs public art projects as it also revisits the notion of public space in different ways - physical and geographical as place with a specific location within different cities as well as in the sense of shared commons like communication tools. The appropriation of advertisement and film as well as of national attributes which IRWIN constantly de-nationalizes, belong to those artistic strategies reflected upon in the show at Łaźnia. The show contains photographs, installations and videos that are the result of more than 30 years of collaborative practice which IRWIN realized with some of the most influential artists and thinkers of our time as well as with ordinary citizens. As part of the exhibition there is an NSK State Passport Office at which it is possible to request a passport granting the right to add citizenship of the utopian nation founded in 1992 to one’s own. Like in other ‘passport offices’ opened in the past – including the first in Amsterdam in 1993 and that at the MoMA in New York in 2012 – the opportunity is provided to reflect together on the possibility of creating a new state, for all those who identify with the constitutional principles of the NSK: equal opportunities regardless of one’s ethnic or national origins and sexual or religious orientations.
When first created in 1992, ‘NSK State in Time’ was defined as an abstract organism, a supremacist body within an actual socio- political space, driven by a movement of the spirit and the work of the single members. After more than 20 years, the number of citizens in possession of the NSK State in Time passport is over 14,000 – made up first and foremost of members of the art world but not only – who never tire of reflecting on a new state, a better state, one in which we may perhaps find a little happiness.
The traveling show dedicated to the work of IRWIN is the sixth part of a long-term project called "Click or Clash? Strategies of Collaboration", which the curatorial team of LaRete Art Projects organizes in cooperation with different artists and institutions. Since 2011 this curatorial group is dealing with questions regarding the effects of collaboration and conflict (see more detailed info at www.larete-artprojects.net).
The story of the Slovenian artists’ collective starts in 1983 with the spontaneous collaboration between young artists from the punk and graffiti scenes in Ljubljana: Dušan Mandič, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek and Borut Vogelnik came together to found the group Rrose Irwin Sélavy, named in honour of the female pseudonym of Marcel Duchamp. In 1984, in collaboration with the music group Laibach and the Gledališče sester Scipion Nasice theatre company, they founded a broader artists’ collective, known as Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK, i.e. New Slovenian Art), a union of artistic groups drawing on a range of different disciplines all in search of ways out of the universe of local art, deeming it too closed and self-referential. After the declarations of independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by Croatia and Slovenia, Neue Slowenische Kunst founded the ‘NSK State in Time’ nation in 1992. Instead of being territorially based, NSK was founded on a ‘state of thought’, the borders of which might change in relation to the single members of the state.
For IRWIN, symbols may take on different meanings and connotations in different places and moments through an analysis of their origins. Their work, distinguished by their sharp wit and a pronounced sense of ambiguity, expresses a complex and subtle connection between art and ideology.
IRWIN has taken part in projects presented at Manifesta 9 in Genk (2012) and the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and many others exhibitions such as: Hans in Luck - Art and Capital, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg (2014); Former West, HKW, Berlin (2013); A Bigger Splash, Tate Modern, London (2012-13); NSK Passport Office, MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); The Global Contemporary. The Art Worlds after 1989, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2011-12); The International, MACBA, Barcelona (2011); The Promises of the Past, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010); State in Time, Kunsthalle Krems (2009); Here Is Every, MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008–09); NSK Passport Holders, Taipei Biennial, Taipei Art Museum (2008); Birds of a Feather, Akbank Art Center, Istanbul (2006–07); Collective Creativity, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel (2005); IRWIN: Retroprincip 1983–2003, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2003). The members of the group live and work in Ljubljana.
May 13th – July 17th, 2016
Łaźnia Centre For Contemporary Art
st. Jaskółcza 1 80-767 Gdańsk Poland