The 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana
Over you / you
28 August−3 December 2015
Curator: Nicola Lees
Founded in 1955 in Yugoslavia, it is not only one of the world’s oldest biennials, but the first dedicated to the graphic arts. Since its inception, this focus has enabled it to serve as an alternative distribution system for images and artworks, crossing geo-political borders and acting as a prototype for exhibitions in other postwar non-aligned countries such as Colombia, Peru and India.
Curated by Nicola Lees, Over you / you will bring together a group of international artists addressing the history of the graphic arts and the formal and sociopolitical characteristics associated with the medium. The exhibition will reflect on the Biennial’s history as a radical site for the distribution of images that made art available to a wide audience, rather than examining it as a presentation of traditional fine art printing techniques. Many of the artists are influenced by projects shown at previous Biennials. The graphic medium was adopted by the Biennial for the ease with which graphic works could traverse international borders without political restriction, a mobility that is now amplified by the speed with which images are dispersed digitally. Over you / you will include new commissions by artists exploring the limits of traditional print mediums, such as woodcut, screen printing and etching, as well as artists focusing on the tools of reproduction that drive transmission and distribution.
Reza Abdoh / Giorgio Andreotta Calò / Becky Beasley / Chris Beauregard / Will Benedict / Wolfgang Breuer / Andrea Büttner / Bureau of Loose Associations / Ellen Cantor / Declan Clarke / Mike Cooter / Qëndresë Deda / Lili Reynaud Dewar / Braco Dimitrijević / Shannon Ebner / Luca Frei / Index Books Peter Gidal / Karpo Godina / David Gothard / Meta Grgurevič / Andrew Hazewinkel / Ištvan Išt Huzjan / Stewart Home / Sanya Kantarovsky / Gabriel Kuri / Hilary Lloyd / Goshka Macuga / David Maljković / Nick Mauss / Oscar Murillo / New Collectivism / Ken Okiishi / Pilar Quinteros / Asad Raza / Josefine Reisch / Giles Round / Luka Savić / Thirteen Black Cats (Vic Brooks, Evan Calder Williams and Lucy Raven) / Phillip Zach / Akram Zaatari
The programme for the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana will feature over 40 projects by international and local artists. These will include an exhibition at The Jakopic Gallery by Giles Round(b. 1976), looking back at the Biennial through the lens of Robert Rauschenberg’s 1963 contributionAccident, a work widely considered to be the first Pop Art print. A historical trajectory also animates a new production by Oscar Murillo (b. 1986), which will track 20th-century graphic arts biennials in the global south, specifically the political relevance of Colombia’s 1970 Bienal de Medellín, which acted as a platform for the dissemination of knowledge in the face of the threat of a political coup. A close reading of avant-garde histories in Ljubljana and elsewhere will be addressed by Ištvan Išt Huzjan (b. 1981) whose research around Mirror in Landscape, 1969 by David Nez (OHO Group) will uncover the way in which the Ljubljana Biennial has operated as a gateway for cross-border communication and exchange. The central gallery of the Museum of Modern Art will host Andrea Büttner (b. 1972), who will present a new series of woodcuts, one of the earliest means developed for creating mass-produced images, which in Büttner’s work is tied to notions of labour and self-expression.
Several artists will focus on translations between graphic arts and other media, including literature, moving image and photography. Ellen Cantor‘s (1961–2013) compulsive re-drawings of old Disney characters, shown here for the first time in two decades, will present the female protagonists as accidental feminists. Key “Black Wave” Ljubljana-based filmmaker Karpo Godina (b. 1943) will presentArtificial Paradise (Umetni raj), a speculative historical work that takes Fritz Lang’s time in Slovenia as its central narrative. Asad Raza (b. 1974) will use Dan Graham’s Schema as a point of departure for an experimental school aimed at a small group of young thinkers from Ljubljana, and visiting professors from Princeton and Université Paris Diderot – Paris VII. Occupying the ground floor of a building in Tivoli Park, the school’s exercises will explore parts of the city both familiar and unfamiliar to the participants, encouraging them to form their own interpretations and uses of the space. With this understanding, participants will open these discussions to the public as hosts and guides to the Biennial.
The 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts consists of the main exhibition Over you / you, curated by Nicola Lees with Associate Curator Stella Bottai, which will be on display at the International Centre of Graphic Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, Tivoli Park, The Jakopič Gallery and the National and University Library. The traditional exhibition by the award-winner of the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts, María Elena González, will be on display in the Gallery of Cankarjev Dom curated by Božidar Zrinski and at other accompanying venues, such as Kresija Gallery and Škuc Gallery, where Vladimir Vidmar will curate. Other collaborations will include an editorial project with Mousse Publishing and projects with MoTA (Museum of Transitory Art) and AVA (Academy of Visual Arts), Ljubljana.
Image: Karpo Godina, Artificial Paradise (Umetni raj) (still), 1990. Film. Courtesy of the artist.