Artists: Peter Černe, Ira Konyukhova, Yein Lee, Siggi Sekira, Sonja Vulpes
Curator: Domen Ograjenšek
31. 3. and 7. 4. at 6 pm: viewing of the exhibition with the curator Domen Ograjenšek
Swallets adorn the landscapes she once deemed familiar and firm.
The exhibition presents works by Peter Černe, Ira Konyukhova, Yein Lee, Siggi Sekira and Sonja Vulpes, exploring fictional instances at the precipice of ecological devastation. Fiction lends its tools in times when knowledge and comprehension struggle amidst the incessant currents of irregularities. Swallets open to a world in transition, into environments that beget acceptance and change.
The shops back then still bore eclectic traces of what could once have been the pinnacle of 90s design; something photographed or blogged about by a Millennial. The misplaced fragments of shapes and patterns seemed all so foreign to her. Familiar enough to still be attributed to an era, be it as a signifier or a vibe, but evading all specificity, anything that could have made it tangible, usable as a conversation starter, or a piece of reflection for the stories that she would eventually tell her friends. Missed patches of nicotine yellow haunted the corners of otherwise thoroughly repainted walls. Filled and covered holes spoke of furniture and equipment deemed obsolete and removed. The plaza did not see a lot of traffic ever since retail had lost its general appeal. Kids and teenagers gathered at McDonald’s drive-throughs and highway rest stations, deserting well-kept, confined public spaces for those of unkept and liminal kind. Comfortable in settings where escape is not only possible but persistently expected, they spent their idle days waiting for that final pick-up that would eventually get them out, as far away as possible. She found their angsty faces endearing. What is angst, if not the spirit’s struggle to cling to some semblance of hope? The rest of them had long given up on even that.
‘Could you imagine’, she thought to herself, ‘still clinging to hope?’
When idle, at times, her thoughts still tended to gather in Snap or Tweet-like bits. She considered it cringe, yet more often than not still entertained it. The musings of her media-overexposed brain were but all that made her and her peers stand out from the builders, founders and entrepreneurs that came before them. ‘Might as well binge the brain away,’ she used to joke. It is but anyone’s guess, how an entire generation found itself in the position of the marginalised, powerless enough to find agency solely in escapist fantasies that sublimate like vapours rising out of didactically drawn-out, yet nevertheless unattainable ideals set before them by their nurturers and educators. Her queer friends often snarked at her defeatist stance. Even though it was this very stance that made them friends in the first place. The lineage of power, privilege and the struggle to subvert them had by then long shed its successive, linear form and brought on a more dynamic, even if, from the perspective of their contemporaries, disorienting mode of succession. Heirs of foes suddenly found themselves rocking the same boat, burdened by their gut affinities and the lectures of social struggles preceding them. How to draw the line, if at all?
Arbitrariness can seem futile until it is opportune. They had to learn that abruptly – then.
Specks of dirt settled on her face. She found herself fatigued. It did not take long for the air in the enclosed plaza to still. The pungent odour of anxious glands around her made it seem thicker, viscous. In times like this, breathing stops being an automatic action and becomes a conscious, arduous endeavour. The once subtle movement gains a straining quality to it, deforming the mouth and face. Like sucking air through a sheet of cellophane, it emboldens the eyes with a trace of panic and despair. She swept the dirt off her face, sighing at the sight of the muddy enclosure. A considerable amount of time must have passed since she had ended up in the swallet. The days lost their original meaning – pondering the passage of time is now but a luxury few can afford – exhaustion, however, winds its own internal clock. The leaves of a decaying branch served her for the first few cycles of rest. Flattened in the thick patch of clay, they came to bear the shape they helped to harbour.
Ira Konyukhova (1984, Udomlja, Russia; based in Berlin) graduated in Media Arts at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design under the supervision of Vadim Fishkin, João Tabarra, Anja Dorn and Rǎzvan Rǎdulescu in 2017. Her primary medium is film and video, complemented by performances, ceramic sculptures and sound works. She often questions repressive social structures that are mirrored and amplified by new technologies. She likes to work with the Amazon voice assistant Alexa, writing texts for her and constructing human-machine dialogues that address feminism, class oppression and the exploitation of migrant workers. Her films and video works have been screened at the Athens Biennale, GoEast Film Festival and Espacio Media Art Festival Tenerife, among others. Konyukhova also writes regularly for the street newspaper Arts of the Working Class.
Yein Lee (1988, S. Korea) lives and works in Vienna. After studying Visual Arts in Seoul, she continued her education in Painting and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Her practice combines elements of technology, physical organisms and fantastic conceptions to create hybrid visions of the bodily realm. Investigating relations of social dissonance in her extended surroundings, she combines found objects with cast pieces and painterly gestural vividness. She creates a field of discussion by targeting the complexities of societal behaviour. Her work has recently been presented in group exhibitions at the Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris; Schinkel Pavilion, Berlin; Belvedere 21 and Kunstraum Niederösterreich, Vienna, among others.
Siggi Sekira (1987, Odesa, Ukraine) lives and works in Vienna. Since 2015 they have been studying on the master’s programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Their artistic practice includes ceramic sculpture and coloured pencil drawings. Sekira’s works revolve around the common themes of reproductive labour, female hysteria and false expectations. They draw from a variety of sources, from Slavic mythology to the 1900s Wiener Werkstätte, the Soviet avant-garde and the influx of Western pop culture after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Recent exhibitions include Sweet Lies at Ludwig Forum Aachen; Cruel Summer Camp at Exile, Vienna; Rhizome at Galerie Kandlhofer, Vienna and Fever Dream at Gianni Manhattan, Vienna.
Sonja Vulpes (Sonja Grdina, 1986) completed her studies in Art Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education in Ljubljana. She works in the fields of printmaking, drawing and zines. Her work has been presented in the solo exhibitions Memento mori at Hiša kulture in Pivka (2018), Bittersweet at Daeppen Gallery (Basel, 2018) and Limbo at MGLC (Ljubljana, 2021), as well as in several group exhibitions in Slovenia and abroad. In 2021, she was nominated for the Queen Sonja Print Award. She works in her studio in the Karst region and her residence in Ljubljana.
English proofreading: Arven Šakti Kralj
Slovene translation: Uroš Prah
Slovene proofreading: Inge Pangos
Design and cover image: Lea Jelenko
Photos from the opening: Simao Bessa
Exhibition view: Klemen Ilovar
The works of Peter Černe were kindly lent for the exhibition by:
Moderna galerija, Ljubljana
The exhibition is supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum Ljubljana.
The Škuc Gallery programme is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.