From September 26th 2015 to January 10th 2016 Kunsthalle Osnabrück will show “IRWIN: Wo denkst du hin?!“. The title refers to a German saying which, with its spatial connotation, is impossible to translate. You use it in conversations, when you believe that your interlocutor is drawing the wrong conclusions. You make him notice that, but do not correct him.
The exhibition project is a collaboration between Galleria civica di Modena in Italy, the Łaznia Center for Contemporary Art in Gdansk, Poland and Kunsthalle Osnabrück. It is curated by Claudia Löffelholz of LaRete Art Projects and Kunsthalle Osnabrück’s Director Julia Draganović.
Already since 1983 five Slovenian artists based in Ljubljana use the name IRWIN as their common signature. These five men are connected through 32 years of successful collaboration which include negotiating topics and techniques of the their artistic practice, shared obligations and responsibilities, experiments and journeys, decisions to accept or decline invitations to exhibition projects, contacting other artists, curators, museums or collectors – decisions about lifetime friendships or “missing links” in their cv.
In 2015 IRWIN looks back at the major part of their lives spent together. It has been a period characterized by consistency paired with flexibility and innovational force regarding the adjustments to new life-changing circumstances – some married couples might envy IRWIN for managing all this. One needs negotiation skills as well the willingness to accept a different opinion. One needs the capability to listen to and to watch others, to question one’s own ideas and let other put them into discussion. One needs patience and a certain degree of tolerance to stay productive and share one’s practice for such a long time. IRWIN’s work requires the same ambitious skills from the viewer. The paintings and video-documentations of their interventions in public space as well as their installations always use found material. Their pieces consist in quotations stripped out of their context and combined in a new way, a fact that in the viewer often causes confusion, if not indignation or even outrage. A close and careful view though, reveals that contradictions are indeed not always meant to be dissolved, but they might give room for an amused, or even better, a serious new insight. IRWIN are ideological critics and use all kinds of signs and symbols that they deem ideologically charged. They recombine them and reveal evidences which might have been hidden to the viewer.
The traveling show dedicated to the work of IRWIN is the sixth part of a long-term project called Click or Clash? Strategies of Collaboration, which the curatorial team of LaRete Art Projects organizes in cooperation with different artists and institutions. Since 2012 this curatorial group is dealing with questions regarding the effects of collaboration and conflict (see more detailed info at www.larete-artprojects.net).
The show in Osnabrück will present IRWIN’s icons, the “classical” adaptions as well as their own set of icons, along with photos of those series that the Slovenian collective has produced with other artists and representatives of various governments and churches. One focus of “IRWIN: Wo denkst du hin?!” lies on photos and assemblages which belong to the series of NSK State in Time co-founded by IRWIN. Already in the 1980s IRWIN together with different members of the cultural underground scene of Ljubljana had founded NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst, a German name that means New Slovenian Art). Among its notorious members is the music group Laibach which only recently was the first European band to be invited to play in North Korea.
After the death of Tito and under the Milosević regime, the Yugoslav confederation, to which Slovenia belonged to at that time, had already entered a “decadent” phase. NSK provoked the Yugoslav powers through an affirmative representation of their own totalitarian attitude. When the war in Yugoslavia started, NSK changed its course. They founded a state based only on the agreement between the citizens and therefore “in time”, but without any territory. With this NSK State in Time did not only oppose the violent battle for territories in the Balkans, but explicitly fought for the reciprocal respect beyond ethnical, religious or geographical affiliation. In the 1990s the passports issued by NSK State in Time were indeed used by a number of victims of the bloody struggles on the Balkans to travel or better to flee their countries. NSK State in Time in the meantime counts about 15.000 members, or better: citizens. Kunsthalle Osnabrück will open a NSK passport office which will offer the opportunity to the visitors to acquire a second citizenship for a service charge of 24 Euros.
The show will be accompanied by a brochure. After the last part of the project in Gdansk in 2016 the publication of a catalogue is planned. Further info is available at www.follow-irwin.net
The exhibition in Osnabrück is organized in collaboration with the Friends of the Kunsthalle and with LaRete Art Projects. It is supported by the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony. The Friends of the Kunsthalle have received financial support for the show by the Landschaftsverband Osnabrücker Land as well as by the Collegium Vermögensverwaltung.