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NSK State-in-Time to stage intervention at Venice Biennial

Ljubljana, 17 March - The NSK State-in-Time, a project of the collective known as Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK), will make an artistic intervention at this year's Venice Biennial. Their pavilion, which is not part of Slovenia's official presentation, will provide an opportunity to rethink the contemporary concept of states.

NSK collective poster.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

The NSK State-in-Time, originally founded in 1992, is a formation without physical territory whose nationality is available to anyone willing to accept its founding principles.

According to the project's commissioners, internationally acclaimed Slovenian visual arts collective Irwin, the pavilion will address issues that trouble today's states the most - migration, citizenship, history and identity.

Moreover, it will attempt to produce ideas on how to build new communities and a shared history among peoples.

The curators of the NSK State-in-Time pavilion will be Moderna galerija museum of modern art director Zdenka Badovinac and Charles Esche, the director of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

As Irwin told the STA, the curators were given full freedom in the choice of topics and form of presentation, and they chose migrations as the main topic of the pavilion that will open on 10 May.

The main part of the presentation, An Apology for Modernity, will be an attempt at conceptualising a new community by looking beyond the fragmentation and antagonism that seem to be inevitable in the near future.

According to the NSK Times website, the NSK State is inevitably grounded in the European traditions of governance and civil sovereignty, and is, however distantly, a successor of the states that established themselves largely through conquest and domination.

Similarly to a number of European and post-colonial states, the NSK State-in-Time will issue an apology because they see accepting the full burden of the past as the only way to open the area of governance-in-time beyond this history.

The second part of the pavilion will be named Room of Global Disorder and will feature responses of one hundred different citizens, migrants and stateless individuals to questions of how "a new material and immaterial heritage could be built on the ruins of the old world heritage".

These responses - compiled into an installation by artist and NSK citizen Ahmet Ögüt from Turkey - take different shapes, from writings to drawings, recordings or other means of expression. NSK citizens across the world will also be invited to respond online.

The NSK State-in-Time pavilion will also feature a temporary passport office, run by asylum seekers currently stationed in Venice. The virtual state has been issuing passports since 1993.

On 11 May, the NSK will organise a lecture on migrations by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, which will be open to all NSK citizens and also non-citizens who obtain a temporary visa.

All visitors of the pavilion will receive the NSK State's newspaper, and the presentation at the Venice Biennial will be accompanied by the launch of a monograph Europe: The Final Countdown on heritage, state and European future, edited by Slovenian journalist Jela Krečič.

Between 16 May and 11 June, a double of the pavilion will be open as part of the Wiener Festwochen festival in Vienna, Austria.

NSK, or New Slovenian Art as the name translates into English, was founded by multi-media music band Laibach, visual art group Irwin and the Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre.

It then expanded to several more outfits, including graphic design studio New Collectivism and the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy.

Its groups had a major impact on the Yugoslav art scene in the 1980s focusing on the relationship between ideology and art in the East and West.

The 57th Venice Biennale, running between 13 May and 26 November 2017, will meanwhile also feature Slovenian art at the main exhibition for the first time since 2003.

Curator Christine Macel picked three Slovenian artists: the avant-garde OHO art collective, its driving force Marko Pogačnik and Vadim Fiškin, a Russian-born artist who has been living and working in Slovenia since 1996.

© STA, 2017