This is no longer the country my uncles talked about /
Margin(al) notes on solidarity, survival and life.
Gallery Škuc / 2011

Exhibition concept: Tevž Logar, Nika Autor, Lidija Radojević
Participants: Nika Autor, Maja Breznik, Maja Cimerman, Stipe Ćurković, Aigul Hakimova, Marko Kostanić, Primož Kraševec, Tevž Logar, Aldo Milohnić, Jovita Pristovšek, Lidija Radojević, Armin Salihović, Nina Vodopivec, Vladimir Vidmar.

Artistic production always depends on production in general/the mode of production and social conditions. Until the Romantic period - when the artist as an individual ‘freed’ him/herself - artists had dealt primarily with religious and non-religious themes which reflected above all the intention of the person who commissioned the work – who provided the conditions for production. With Romanticism, and particularly Realism and Naturalism (most prominently in literature), images began to make their way into art which were connected to previously hidden social issues: poverty, violence, sex, disease, filth, prostitution, pain…It was only a question of time before the social situation became a major issue in its own right. The change occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, when the Dada movement rejected established codes of art and laid the foundation for the so-called anti-art of the 20th century. At this point, it must be stressed that Dada was ‘born’ at a time of great political and social upheaval (World War I, the October Revolution, etc.), and was a response to the social situation of the time. The changes introduced into art at the beginning of the 20th century, and the role of art in society, shook, marked and prevented the continued production of pleasingly created, beautiful images which lacked a consideration of social changes and trends; this established the conditions for the development of later movements and engaged art practices (Fluxus, social sculpture, feminism, etc.). The role of social conditions in art reached a height in the socially and politically engaged practices which flooded museums, galleries and public space in the 1990s. Engaged art soon became mainstream, which is why a large number of the works were corrupted and commodified, thereby losing their social role. Due to the arrogant position of some art practices which were aimed at resolving issues rather than revealing them, the legitimacy of the entire field of engaged art was questioned, which definitely influenced the position of art in general. This questioning acts as a kind of premise for the exhibition This is no longer the country my uncles told me about, which seeks to point to the sense and possibilities of connecting art and a certain social structure, and particularly to raise social issues.

The exhibition This is no longer the country my uncles told me about examines issues of intolerance, racism and violence, which are constituted in relation to the ‘other’, even if this other is from the home environment. Within society, conditions are created at both the conscious and unconscious levels which provide an excellent starting point for the intolerance of certain social groups and ‘different’ individuals. The ensuing atmosphere creates some kind of condition of inequality, the radicalisation of social antagonism and a proliferation of techniques of power which strengthen the social hierarchy. The inability to achieve social equality leads to impossible social situations, which are the consequence of a more flexible labour market, migration policy, increasing uncertainty in the labour market, and processes of deligitimising certain groups and individuals. This increasingly reduces the possibilities of living comfortably from one’s work, and eliminates the right to health and social care. All this is in the foreground of the exhibition This is no longer the country my uncles told me about, whose structure is based on an interplay of thoughts and images. This is most obvious in the works A report on the status of asylum policy in the Republic of Slovenia from January 2008 to August 2009 (the film portrays the life of asylum seekers in Slovenia between January 2008 and August 2009) and Postcards (the footage is based on the archive of the national broadcaster Radio Televizija Slovenije, and presents media created images of asylum seekers between 2001 and 2008), which explore the false media image of asylum seekers through dialogues. The videos point to the interdependence of asylum policy and Slovenia’s systems of supervision, whose combined policies create stereotypes, victimised and criminalised media images of dehumanised asylum seekers. The interplay of intimate confessions, thoughts, quotes and documented fact is even more telling than the formal juxtaposition of the various elements of the exhibition. The former seeks to reveal another suppressed issue of contemporary society: work insecurity. The issues and themes presented by the exhibition also call for a wider contextualisation and argumentation of positions. Therefore, the exhibition is conceived so that the context within which these processes take place forms an integral part. Therefore, while the exhibition is on view, lectures and talks on the issue of disciplining and exploiting the work force will take place twice a week. The strategies for adapting working methods – adapted to new exploitation techniques – are implemented in exactly the same way whether they concern individuals working on construction sites, on a computer, or in a gallery. Also, we will seek to examine whether there is a place for constructing a class for ourselves and class solidarity, which will overcome the various identities that divide us. We will also pose questions about the presentation of such themes in galleries - why has a gallery become a place where these issues have found a place, instead of in universities, union meetings, the National Assembly and the media? How and why are the issues of exploitation, violence and socially relevant topics ‘’tacked on’ art? The main theme of the exhibition, to which every constituent part is connected, is the role of the individual in society, particularly those who are ‘different’, whose social position seems increasingly absurd. The images caught between the walls of Škuc Gallery present pain, fear, and suffering, and also death; however, thinking about these themes is not limited to a specific time and space, and hope remains. This is no longer the country my uncles told me about is not a political exhibition; or rather, it is political in as far as the steps an individual is prompted to take as a result of experiencing it are political. When it comes to real political action, real power lies in the consciousness of the individual, which means it is also a tool for changing reality. Consciousness and knowing that you are not alone as a human being, and that your freedom is measured in relation to your fellow human beings. Let us begin to create sincere solidarity!
Tevž Logar