The 34th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts
September 10–November 21, 2021
The 34th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts titled ISKRA DELTA will open on September 10 with a programme of events—guided tours, artist talks, performances and concerts—that will extend throughout the following weekend.
Iskra Delta was the name of a Slovenian computer company and one of the largest computer manufacturers in Yugoslavia, which had the potential to become a major player on the global market before the country’s collapse. It was part of a broader computer industry that began to flourish after the Second World War as part of the modernisation project in the socialist republic. The story of the rise and fall of Iskra Delta is shrouded in mystery and as such prone to various projections, sometimes even bordering on conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, the “itch” that any story about a “could have been” provides, fuels the imagination. In a time haunted by the spectres of “lost futures”, the Biennale rather than focusing on the past, harnesses the desire to inhabit a reality other than the one we inherited.
Against a backdrop of social and environmental unrest, deep in the pandemic that has fixed our bodies in place and our eyes on screens, ISKRA DELTA returns from the future and hijacks the 34th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts, to point to the transformative vectors, to piece together the glimmering splinters of other possible worlds that are already emerging in our midst and to ignite a spark for imagining and constructing alternative presents.
ISKRA DELTA acts here as a fictional, virtual entity, a name for and an incantation of the future, a world yet to come. Artists, musicians, designers, writers, poets and other agents who use the power of fiction, speculative design, LARPing, gaming, the internet, pop and emerging technologies have been invited to contribute to this world-building mission with their projects.
Taking the lead from the featured practices themselves, the ISKRA DELTA exhibition inhabits four different locations around the city through a site-building approach, setting up its headquarters, business lobby, pop-up incubator and burrow in the historical Tivoli Mansion and park, a socialist-modernist skyscraper, the Banka Slovenije’s exhibition room and an abandoned, offsite location below the city centre.
While presenting positions from different countries around the world, the 34th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts holds a strong generational and regional focus and perspective. It features new projects by younger artists and groups such as BCAA system (CZ), Inside Job (Ula Lucińska, Michał Knychaus) (PL), Luka Lavrenci (SI), Botond Keresztesi (HU), Zsófia Keresztes (HU), Mario Mu (CRO), Stach Szumski (PL), Andrej Škufca (SI), Neja Zorzut (SI), among others.
Major new commissions include Inside Job’s installation that questions the broader theme of the post-human future by unfolding a speculative narrative about the trait of dormancy and the possibility of survival in adverse conditions; BCAA System’s short film that aims to explore through expressive means of game design the potential of shared action in space to spark off the collective imagination; OMSK Social Club’s Utopiates Extension Pack, a new Real Game Play (RGP) work that can be followed via the Telegram app, Lawrence Lek’s Nepenthe Zone, a video installation and sonic environment designed to help the listener forget the troubles of the world, and Mark Fridvalszki’s meta-collage and series of graphic prints consisting of visual material from two distinct but in many ways parallel futuristic periods—the “Popular Modernism” of 1968 and the 1989 Rave movement’s struggle against the neoliberal invasion of the cultural and political imagination.
An integral part of the programme is also the collaboration with platforms and collectives such as Other Internet (Toby Shorin, Laura Lotti, Sam Hart) who will conduct the Iskra Delta Network Identity: Headless Brand Workshop and ŠUM, a Ljubljana based theory-fiction journal that will accompany the Biennale with a special issue entitled Xenoslavia: Covert Chronologies.
The Biennale’s curatorial approach is further extended by a music programme developed in collaboration with the Nimaš Izbire collective, exploring the speculative and worldbuilding potential of sound design and contemporary electronic and pop music through sound commissions by Astrosuka, Digitonica, Galen Tipton, Himera, Petal Supply, Toiret Status, Torus, Umru, Toyota Vangelis and others.
The Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts traditionally presents the solo exhibition of the Grand Prize recipient of the previous edition, in this case, Hamja Ahsan, an artist, activist and curator, and the author of the book Shy Radicals: The Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert. His exhibition I DON’T BELONG HERE, presented at the ZVKDS Gallery, shows the history of the imaginary state of shy, introverted and autistic people and its activist movement against the domination of the extroverts.
The Biennale is accompanied by a folder containing two publications—a project catalogue and a reader, along with an extensive programme of conferences and talks curated by Muanis Sinanović on topics ranging from the millennial perspective to the possibilities offered by the new technological revolution and the tactical potentials of Yugofuturism.
John Akomfrah, Astrosuka*, BCAA system*, Joshua Citarella, Simon Denny, Diffractions Collective, Digitonica*, Drone Emoji*, Aleksandra Domanović*, Mark Fridvalszki*, Galen Tipton*, Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze*, Himera*, Joey Holder, INSIDE JOB (Ula Lucińska & Michał Knychaus)*, Interdependence (Holly Herndon & Mat Dryhurst)*, Jakub Jansa, Kristjan Kaluža*, Jure Kastelic, Zsófia Keresztes*, Botond Keresztesi*, Princess Ketamine*, Kiss the Future*, Kladnik & Neon*, Kukla Kešerović, Luka Lavrenci*, Lawrence Lek*, Mario Mu*, Nascent (Paul Seidler and Max Hampshire), Nimaš Izbire*, Katja Novitskova, OMSK Social Club*, Other Internet (Toby Shorin, Laura Lotti, Sam Hart), Marko Peljhan, Protektorama (aLifveForm, fed and cared for by JP Raether), Jon Rafman*, Živa Božičnik Rebec*, Alex Selmeci & Tomáš Kocka Jusko, Petal Supply*, Stach Szumski*, Dorijan Šiško*, Andrej Škufca*, ŠUM*, T+U (Technologie und das Unheimliche)*,Toiret Status*, Liara T’soni*, Torus*, Miloš Trakilović, Suzanne Treister, Umru*, Toyota Vangelis*, Jelena Viskovic, Warrego Valles*, Neja Zorzut*
*new works and commissions
Artistic director: Nevenka Šivavec
Curator: Tjaša Pogačar
Curator of conference and discursive programme: Muanis Sinanović
Biennale project group: Kukla Kešerović, Aljaž Košir, Tjaša Pogačar, Muanis Sinanović, Andrej Škufca