Sebastian Schmieg, Hopes and Deliveries (Survival Creativity), 2017–2018
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, presents:
An exhibition curated by Domenico Quaranta
Featuring works by Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Sebastian Schmieg, Guido Segni
Production: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2019
Co-production: MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts
Partner: Italian Cultural Institute, Ljubljana
MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts
Grad Tivoli, Pod turnom 3, Ljubljana
Exhibition opening: Thursday, 7 November 2019 at 6 pm
Open through: 19 January 2020
Labour – one of the defining aspects of our capitalistic societies – is also one of the sides of contemporary life that has been more affected by technological innovations and by the advent of post-Fordism. Although increasing automation has actually caused many forms of human labour to disappear, it has not – as many thinkers have predicted – brought an end to labour. Instead, it has led to – together with other innovations, such as the rise of device culture and social networks – its fragmentation into plenty of micro labours and its infiltration into every moment of life. In other words, today, no matter if we are unemployed, self-employed or working at a regular full-time job, as “technology users” we are always working.
Hyperemployment – a word borrowed from media theorist Ian Bogost, describing “the Exhausting Work of the Technology User”– is a group show curated by Domenico Quaranta meant to explore these and other dimensions of what labour has become through the works of eight international artists who have focused their research on the topics of automation and gig economy, the end of free time and the rise of social media fatigue and self-improvement apps, among others.
In Reverie, On the Liberation from Work (2017), Danilo Correale collaborates with a New York-based hypnotherapist in drafting two guided hypnosis scripts aimed at relaxing the body and mind in preparation for a post-work society. Elisa Giardina Papa’s Labor of Sleep (2017) consists of a series of short video clips humorously referencing self-improvement apps that illustrate how we use technologies to regulate human sleeping habits within the rhythms of a wider system – one that includes humans and non-humans. In The Labour of Making Labour Disappear (2018–2019) Slovenian artist Sanela Jahić presents an ambitious ongoing research based on the programming of a predictive algorithm meant to conceive artworks in her place. Shouldn’t You Be Working? (2016) by Silvio Lorusso, originally presented as a series of stickers to be placed in any leisurely environment, ironically summarises the schizophrenic attitude towards work and leisure of the “technology user”. Launched in 2017 as an online project, Jonas Lund’s Talk To Me was a chatbot, trained and modelled on online conversations by the artist himself to create a machine-learned version of the artist. The exhibition will present a book version designed by Federico Antonini that reveals a twist which makes the project even more meaningful. Quantified Self Portrait (One Year Performance) (2016–2017) is a video installation documenting a performance by Michael Mandiberg, who used self-tracking technology to capture screenshots and images every fifteen minutes – a technique used to monitor freelance labour – and for one year thus tracked the artist’s mental, physical and emotional states. In Hopes and Deliveries (Survival Creativity) (2017–2018) Sebastian Schmieg exploited Fiverr’s lax security and downloaded thousands of videos, produced by gig workers for their clients. The work addresses voyeurism on two levels: it makes visible the people ordering such videos, while also offering a glimpse into the world of the gig economy. And finally, Demand Full Laziness (2018–2023) is a five-year plan and a durational performance about art, labour, self-sustenance and laziness by the Italian artist Guido Segni.
This exhibition is part of the programme Hyperemployment, a year-long series of events focused on post-work, online labour, AI and automation, co-curated by Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša.
Robert Jančovič, Rez I Nazenie-Pasca/, 1996, colour woodcut
From the Biennial Prize Winners Collection: Shifts in the Canon
7 November 2019–23 February 2020
Every review of the history of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts is also informed by the stories inscribed by the prize winners of this exhibition. The selection made by the jury members – esteemed and influential art critics, curators, art dealers and other experts from all over the world – was, for many years, the only intervention into the seemingly multitudinous mass of exhibited artworks. The eagerly awaited and often critically-acclaimed decisions imparted the event with a touch of creative competition and were the driving force of the discourse that was generated by the exhibition in the professional and general public as well as the media. After every Biennial, when the hundreds of exhibited prints disappeared from the halls and what remained was only their trace in the form of an exhibition catalogue, a handful of selected works and artists – the winners chosen by the most prominent international jury – were inscribed into the history of the biennial in capital letters, and hence into the annals of worldwide printmaking.
In a sense, the exhibition of works by the prize winners from the collection of the MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts aims to get us thinking about the message of the awards of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts in the context of the canon of post-war art. Most often, the jury did not validate the Biennial’s basic guidelines regarding the quality of the artworks, nevertheless, their decisions spoke volumes in various other ways. The wavering between the need to consolidate already established directions and discover new, unknown ones can be noticed throughout.
On the other hand, the exhibition offers an insight into the collecting policy of MGLC, an institution based precisely on the heritage of the Biennial. Particularly those works that have been acquired by the museum through purchase and donation in the recent period and works that have not been especially exposed will be on display. They have been arranged chronologically into three main sections from the first exhibition of prints in 1955 to the present.
The shifts in the exhibited works from the first two periods, from 1955 to 1977, and from 1979 to 2001, can primarily be seen in the form and content of the graphic print. The prints demonstrate the emergence and consolidation of new artistic directions in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the distinct aesthetics of art informel, geometric abstraction and pop art. From the pool, not lacking in art celebrities of the older generation, the juries often awarded the most coveted prizes to young artists, the rising stars with highly innovative artistic insights.
The shifts in the printmaking of the late 1970s can also be seen in the award-winning works. With the era of popularity of the more contemporary printmaking techniques having subsided, classical ones, especially intaglio printing, came to the fore again, along with the greater popularity of smaller formats and more intimate subject matter. The award-winning works from the 1980s and 1990s do not bring about any essential artistic innovation, but rather exhibit an interlacement and diversification of established aesthetics and approaches.
With the new millennium, the Biennial experienced some radical shifts and breaks. The display of works in national pavilions was replaced by an original, curatorial approach, which has recently undergone attempts at inquiry and experimentation. At the same time, the range of artwork formats has gradually expanded. A leap from classical printmaking to the art of printing in a diversity of techniques occurred, whereas later the Biennial has also adopted performative as well as other contemporary practices. The two processes have, of course, also impacted the meaning of the prizes and the physical dimensions of the awarded works.
Authors of the exhibition: Nevenka Šivavec, Breda Škrjanec and Gregor Dražil
PLATEAURESIDUE: Sub Persona
25. 10.–29. 12. 2019
MGLC – Švicarija
You are invited to attend the opening of the exhibition by the PLATEAURESIDUE duo (Aljaž Celarc & Eva Pavlič Seifert) on Friday, 25 October 2019, at 19.00, presenting their new Sub Persona research and exhibition project. The exhibition is part of the year-long programme of Švicarija pursuing the motto community, art and nature, which in 2019 focuses on the analysis of the state of independent journalism and the right of the public to information. The artists, whose practice usually interlaces ecology and art, this time examine the state of forest ecosystems and the human impact on them due to past and present forest management. They will present their multimedia installation for the first time, which promotes the development of sensory thinking and questions the contemporary understanding of the environment and man’s attitude towards it.
During the preparations for the project, the artists talked to people who are directly involved in maintaining forests and have differing opinions about how they should be managed and perceived. Forests possess many functions, ranging from ecological, economic to cultural, and provide us all with a quality life on many levels. The present-day urban population often perceives forests as spaces of unspoilt nature even though they have been completely transformed by the centuries of human management. It is precisely the tradition of encroaching upon and exploiting forests that dictates the responsibility of mankind to manage them in a sustainable way, to take care of the consequences of bad practice and to eliminate the effects of climate change. The artists explore how contemporary forest management and forestry approach the goals dictated by the Pro Silva Pan-European sustainable management model, which was developed in 1989, based on the Slovenian tradition of selective felling. The goal of the Pro Silva model is to preserve all key forest functions for future generations: ecosystem, soil and climate protection, production of wood and wood products, recreation and preservation of cultural heritage.
PLATEAURESIDUE is the imaginary identity of geographer and artist Aljaž Celarc and art historian Eva Pavlič Seifert. Their practice is concerned with exploring landscape ecology and uses new media to search for new ways of raising public awareness. Accordingly, they always give a voice to the participants in their projects, natural forms such as rocks, air, organisms and other units of matter, which they reorganise into new unusual forms and new media systems. The artist duo lives and works in Novi Kot, in the hinterland of the forests of Mount Gotenica and Snežnik Plateau.
Plateauresidue: Sub Persona, 2019 (video still)