Artistic director of Škuc Gallery from 1980 – 1982.
Dušan Mandić (1954, Ljubljana) graduated in 1981 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, where he went on to complete postgraduate studies under Professor Janez Bernik. Between 1980 and 1982 he was artistic director of the Škuc Gallery programme. In 1983 he became a member of Irwin group.
Some time ago the Škuc Gallery had been inviting conceptualists from Belgrade ( Raša Todosijević, Goran Đorđević, etc.) and Zagreb (the PODRUM /Cellar/ circle – Stilinović, etc.). In 1980-81 these were the first presentations of another kind of practice here. Among the most interesting exhibitions in that period I would mention Đorđević’s “Harbingers of the Apocalypse”, where you could not grasp anything if you did not know what was all about. It was strange even for me – at that time I was working on small objects.
I believe it is important that we introduced a new practice to the Škuc Gallery. After the OHO group, conceptualism ceased to exist here. The OHO exhibition in ŠKUC in 1978 was a group retrospective and it did not have any influence. OHO is a peculiar symptom in this part of the world: when it disappeared, this disappearance was literal. All that has remained are a few photographs. Obviously no one had made any effort to save the original works. This is a great loss. Numerous sculptures were made in the last decade that could be directly related to OHO, but are not – instead, they relate to foreign (British, for example) sculpture. This is not really necessary, since we have our own origins. It was only when we brought conceptualists from Zagreb and Belgrade that this sort of reasoning in art came back to us. I believe that Đorđević, for instance, has greatly influenced the whole of NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst). At the same time this involved the production of alternative culture. ŠKUC was a central point around which all the developments turned. The gallery also covered music and literature (cassettes, fanzines). Only the fine art section of ŠKUC was working permanently, while all others were only temporarily active. Another important thing, in my opinion, is that we began to announce and review our exhibitions in newspapers. I even had some trouble at the Academy of Fine Arts, because Prof. Bernik did not want me to write in newspapers. I think that the Škuc Gallery was the only gallery with a significant programme at that time – all other galleries were ruled by a strictly bureaucratic principle. For a number of years, the Museum of Modern Art was an entirely closed space with its permanent collection and the Biennial of Graphic Art. And then, when Dr. Mikuž took over there, he made an alternative to ŠKUC out of it, which does not seem logical to me. However, this question was more or less settled later on. The Škuc Gallery is the first step, and the Museum is the last, while the intermediate steps – private galleries – are still missing.
The Škuc Gallery functioned on the municipal and national level. Today it should acquire the status of similar galleries abroad, i.e. art centres financed by the state and run by boards of specialists (for example, PS1 in New York). ŠKUC was a cultural junction of the new generation, and there is no reason why this should not be the case in the future.
*Based on interview Dušan Mandić, respectively, put down on paper by Alenka Pirman.