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Slovenian pavilion in Venice dubbed must-see

Venice, 15 May - The Slovenian pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, featuring a project inspired by the refugee crisis, has been labelled a must-see by several prominent media. The Guardian has placed it among the top five pavilions in Venice.

Venice, Italy
The Slovenian pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition in Venice.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

The Guardian's Laura Cumming labells the author, film activist Nika Autor, the new John Grierson.

She says Autor's "superbly original film, centring on trains as symbols of hope and despair, collages undercarriages from Buster Keaton to today's stowaway immigrants, footage of the old Belgrade-Ljubljana line and contemporary images of people scavenging railway planks for fuel in winter".

The Slovenian pavilion, located at the prestigious Arsenale venue and entitled Novicam se ne odpovemo! (News Belongs to Us!), features the 30-minute hybrid of a newsreel and experimental documentary and a monograph dedicated to current newsreel practices.

In the film, entitled Obzornik 63 - Vlak senc (Newsreel 63 - Train of Shadows), Autor simultaneously uses the form of a newsreel and of an anti-newsreel and film essay as she drifts into a visual investigation of railway travel and its historical, social and political narrative.

Jennifer Higgie on the Frieze website meanwhile describes Newsreel 63 as "a mesmerizing meta-documentary, while the British online platform a-n placed the joint project of Moderna galerija from Ljubljana and the Koroško Gallery of Fine Arts from Slovenj Gradec among ten must-see national pavilions.

Autor's film "draws on newsreels as a radical form of non-fiction film linked to class struggle and social change".

According to the website, the artist references the newsreel activism of the 1960s and 1970s and uses footage of railways and train travel "to consider the plight of refugees and the unsafe modes of travel that they are forced to endure".

As part of the Venice exhibition, which officially runs from 13 May to 26 November 2017, an independent Slovenian pavilion also draws inspiration from the refugee crisis.

Featuring the NSK State-in-Time project, it aims to address issues that trouble today's states the most - migration, citizenship, history and identity.

The show, commissioned by the internationally acclaimed Slovenian visual arts collective Irwin, features a temporary NSK passport office, run by asylum seekers currently stationed in Venice.

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© STA, 2017