EKO 9 Triennial of Art and Environment: Eyes in the Stone


EKO 9 Triennial of Art and Environment: Eyes in the Stone
May 17–July 28, 2024

UGM | Maribor Art Gallery and EMPACT present the ninth edition of the Triennial of Art and Environment EKO with the title Eyes in the Stone.

Artists: Saša Bezjak, Lan Breški, Ana Čavić, Ines Doujak, Herman Gvardjančič, Andrea Éva Győri, Thomas Hörl & Peter Kozek, Kier-La Janisse, Vid Koprivšek, Nina Koželj, Gašper Kunšič, Ana Likar, Eva-Maria Lopez, David Nez, Ludvik Pandur, Mila Panić, Edith Payer, Ana Pečar, Oton Polak, Janko Ravnik, Līga Spunde & Aleksandrs Breže, Dominika Trapp, Ádám Ulbert, Matjaž Wenzel and others.

Artistic director: Jure Kirbiš / Artistic advisors: Dominika Trapp and Markus Waitschacher.

From folktales and the origins of modern horror in literature and film to contemporary art forms, the horror genre has always possessed the potential to address human and societal fears. With the exhibition Eyes in the Stone, we give power to the primary emotion of fear to jolt us from our numbness to seemingly failing warnings of science. The artists in the exhibition respond in form and narrative to the threatening atmosphere in nature and culture. In the new venue of the EKO Triennial—the old sanatorium of Dr Mirko Černić in the centre of Maribor—we present artworks which through use of shock, a sense of dread, disquiet and despondency, as well as critical reflection, offer a chance at catharsis in the face of environmental collapse. The old sanatorium, a modernist villa and its surrounding garden, becomes a metaphor for home. If we think of Earth as our home, then this is a house that is haunted. Freak weather events, mass extinctions, fires and floods, earthquakes, it’s as if the planet is waging revenge on its inhabitants. When moving out of this house or an exorcism is not an option, we must learn to dwell with these restless spirits. We enter this haunted house, this planet terror in order to understand and to make peace with the troubled spirits our presence on Earth has awakened. Come with us. If you dare.

Eyes in the stone are watching me, pursuing me. Protecting me? Condemning? Keeping silent? What is the girl in the rock thinking? What has she seen? What did she see that petrified her so? What has she done to turn into stone? On the northern slope of Mount Prisank in the Julian Alps, nature has carved an effigy of a young woman’s face into the side of the mountain. For millennia, the Heathen Maiden, trapped in the stone, stood sentinel over her milieu. Through centuries, oral traditions attributed many meanings to the natural formation, the face made of rock, the eyes in the stone. One story tells of a fairy who foretold a newborn would become a hunter and kill the mythical Goldenhorn, becoming rich from its golden horns. Her sisters cursed the fairy for her prophecy and imprisoned her in the mountain for eternity. In the ninth edition of the Triennial of Art and Environment, audiences and artists see themselves reflected in the Heathen Maiden. Our behaviour in her domain, in the realm of the Goldenhorn, is closely examined under her persistent gaze, in her unceasing presence. At the same time, we may recognise ourselves in her fate. Despite countless warnings, we observe helplessly the consequences of humankind’s interference in nature, as if trapped in stone. The immovable, stony aura of the Heathen Maiden in the midst of environmental catastrophe creates an ominous atmosphere; a new, sinister meaning is given to the age-old gaze.

As the of-the-moment epicentre of the region, the Maribor Triennial of Art and Environment, presents artworks predominantly by Slovenian, Austrian and Hungarian artists. EKO 9 artistic director Jure Kirbiš was joined by artist and curator Dominika Trapp and curator and mediator Markus Waitschacher in the role of artistic advisors, and together they invited more than 30 artists from the region, caught by the eye of the girl in the stone, to take part in the exhibition.