Impossible Retrospective

In collaboration with the students from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Ljubljana: Sara Badovinac, Jana Furman, Iztok Hvala, Larisa Kazić, Nina Rojc, Nina Vidić Ivančič

Type of work: Exhibition and project, including the Depository bookstore

Exhibition: Impossible Retrospective (Activating the Future)

Location: Moderna galerija Ljubljana + Muzej sodobnih umetnosti Metelkova/MG+MSUM (Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana + Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova), Ljubljana, Slovenia

Year: 2011

Curator: Zdenka Badovinac

Photo: Apolonija Šušteršič, Dejan Habicht, Sara Badovinac

Producer: Moderna galerija Ljubljana + Muzej sodobnih umetnosti Metelkova/MG+MSUM (Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana + Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova), Ljubljana, Slovenia

Graphic design: Sara Badovinac and Peter

With the financial support of: Mondriaan Foundation Amsterdam, Ministry of Culture Republic of Slovenia

Content: Furniture and other elements from previous projects; time-line documenting the process of the project; a printed newspaper with photos and descriptions of past projects.

The Depository bookstore – concept and realization: In addition to publications issued by MG+MSUM, the bookstore provides a selection of exhibition catalogues, artist books, various self-published titles, and artists’ portfolios with photographs and videos. The publications and books become the building blocks for the bookstore’s “furniture” and shifting displays.

Concept: Impossible Retrospective (Activating the Future) is the title of both a temporary exhibition and a permanent display of Apolonija Šušteršič’s projects on the ground floor of the MSUM. The selection of presented projects is limited to those which discuss the role and the position of the contemporary art institution within our society in a particular context, reacting to a very specific situation in time. Projects and actions were produced from 1998–2010. The projects that were re-activated through the interior design of the communication area will become part of the museum’s permanent exhibition.

The proposal for an Impossible Retrospective presents a possibility to critically examine the presentation and communication – in retrospect – of art projects, their site and the art institutions involved. It was partly produced as an interior design project within the official architectural project, which follows a very different production process than that produced within the art context. The project questions the production process of the exhibition itself as well as creates a new situation that consists of fragments of the past, reacts to the current conditions and opens up possibilities for the future.

Impossible Retrospective (Activating the Future) creates communication spaces on the ground floor of the new museum such as: the chatting room/the reading room, the exchange room/the suggestion room and the Depository bookstore.

The Depository is an alternative to typical museum stores that have become increasingly commercial and reminiscent of custom jewellery and souvenir shops. Bringing together the past and present, the bookstore is an actual depository of Moderna Galerija’s publications that represent the symbolic foundations of the new museum of contemporary art. Since its founding, Moderna Galerija has issued over 900 publications, for the most part exhibition catalogues, artist monographs and survey publications that are an important physical indicator of the institution’s past. Together with students of architecture, Apolonija Šušteršič developed the idea of a storage room full of books that opens to the public. As a rule, storerooms in museums are inaccessible to museum visitors and are quite static, while the Depository is just the opposite: as the book storeroom opens, at least symbolically, the act of storing publications acquires another function. There is no furniture in the Depository, since all the functional elements are composed of publications. Books are the building blocks of every type of knowledge, here in the Depository bookstore, they are also the physical building blocks of the space. This concept constructively broaches the question of who is entitled to present an artist. The Depository is a place where artists are able to self-organise within the institution. The Depository bookstore is further conceived as a place of alternative economy, where a more just relationship between the institution and the artists’ symbolic capital evolves. The selection of publications changes and grows in accordance with the exhibition programme.

The Depository is run by Tjaša Pogačar and Andrej Škufca, students from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana, together with students from the Faculty of Architecture who are also organising lectures and talks related to contemporary issues within the production of publicity and mediation or art.

Impossible Retrospective (Activating the Future) invites the viewer to become an active participant, to accommodate thinking, acting and critically discussing the institutional processes and politics within the art museum itself.