Artistic director of Škuc Gallery from 1982 – 1985.
Barbara Borčić (1954, Ljubljana) graduated in 1981 from the faculty of Arts in Ljubljana (English language and art history, two-year programme). She first collaborated with Škuc Gallery in 1980, and from 1982 until 1986 she was artistic director of the gallery, together with Marina Gržinić. Between 1982 and 1992 she collaborated on several art and documentary video projects. In 1988 she graduated with B. A. in art history from the Faculty of Arts. In 1991 and 1992 she was editor-in-chief of the magazine Likovne besede (Art Words). Since 1992 she has been a permanent contributor to the magazine M’zin and a member of the editorial board. In 1993 she became assistant director of the Soros Centre for Contemporary Arts in Ljubljana.
Two things seem important to me in the functioning of the Škuc Gallery. The first one I call “the artist’s intervention in the field of interpretation”. Even before I started to work in ŠKUC, I was attracted to these premises by the prospect of discussions with artists. Artists began to write their own texts and express their views in discussions; they were no longer afraid of their statements. Emerik Bernard, Sergej Kapus, Bojan Gorenec, Dušan Mandić and others wrote texts accompanying exhibitions of their works which were not limited to their own production. They wrote about the cultural or fine art environment here, about the state of criticism and interpretation, about fine art production and its prospects in general. They did not want to leave the interpretation of their works to accidental writers. This was also the time when postgraduate students from the Academy of Fine Arts were presenting and defending their M.A. theses publicly in the Škuc Gallery premises.
The second fact, decisive for production at that time, I believe to be a broad development of theory and criticism of ideology. The above-mentioned texts were produced in this connection.
When the EQURNA Gallery had been established and attracted its circle of artists, ŠKUC was left in a kind of void. We discovered that fine art is the most hermetic of all arts and that it attracts a very narrow circle of people. Backed by an abundance of new theory we entered into opposition to institutional culture; we were to radicalise the relation, and the gallery took up a progressive stance. We began systematically to present alternative art production from the (former) Yugoslavia. Surprisingly, the Škuc Gallery was the first to present the most important (conceptualist) artists (for example, R. Todosijević, G. Đorđević, M. Stilinović, T. Gotovac, V. Delimar, and others) and their radical views to the Slovene public. This was decisive, for this art practice surpassed the margins of traditionally comprehended art and, at the same time, helped to establish a distance towards fine art production in Slovenia.
It is important to know in this context that all sections then included in ŠKUC were based in the gallery premises at Stari trg; several joint projects were organised (“Magnus”, a multimedia event in 1984, “Back to the USA” exhibition, “Viks” magazine, etc.). ŠKUC became a meeting point of youth, and in addition it was opened for exhibitions of works by young authors not attending art academies. Its audience was specific – very critical and without any prejudices. ŠKUC became a focal point of ideas and inspirations; people gathered to plan joint projects… A whole new generation of photographers was formed: first they merely documented the scene, but later started to use ‘instant’ techniques – Xerox, Polaroid, video – and to exhibit their works. The border between art and life, between public and authors, faded – they were all included in the process, one way or another. The gallery began to publish cassettes, fanzines… Many exhibitions were opened with some event or a concert (for example, concerts by Blaue Reiter, Vzhodno izhodna enota, Dreihundert verschiedene Krawale). The aim was to break the boundaries of particular fields of art. Authors of exhibitions were frequently connected with poets, musicians, theatre and film makers, and cooperated with them in joint projects, or else they used different languages and media to stage their multi-media projects. ŠKUC aimed to transcend the divide between gallery art and popular art – which was supposed to happen in the streets and clubs. The consequence of all this was that the younger public became more interested in fine arts, and this was – and still is – crucial for the gallery.
The programme in that period – in contrast to the programme before and after that – was devised according to exclusion: the Škuc Gallery organised the projects which were not admitted to other galleries, but at best to some club (FV 112/15, for instance). This stimulated atypical, unconventional exhibitions, special installations, multi-media projects, art performances – events that in other galleries were not possible.
Later, in the late eighties, I noticed that separate segments within ŠKUC gradually ceased to cooperate with each other. There are no more joint projects, nor is there a joint fund to finance such projects or programmes of newly established sections, or of sections not financed by the state.
*Based on interview with Barbara Borčić, respectively, put down on paper by Alenka Pirman.