Participating: Vesna Bukovec, Tia Čiček, Ana Čigon, Andrea Knezović
19. 11. from 6 pm until 6 am: Nocturnalities: Bargaining Beyond Rest | Full night artistic research event – from dusk till dawn
24. 11. at 6 pm: Discussion on labour
2. 12. at 6 pm: Discussion on communities
6. 12. at 6 pm: viewing of the exhibition and evaluation of the project with Vesna Bukovec, Ana Čigon and Tia Čiček
The November exhibitions at Škuc Gallery are now traditionally prepared in cooperation with local cultural practitioners, looking for alternative ways to work in the cultural field and create exhibitions of contemporary art. This year, the collaboration took the form of artistic research into work, reflection on the conditions of knowledge exchange and the search for alternative social and organisational arrangements.
The beginnings of the project date back to 2020, when cultural workers and artists Ana Čigon and Vesna Bukovec proposed to the artistic director of Škuc Gallery, Tia Čiček, to prepare an exhibition that would search for an answer to the question: Where do we go from here? In an effort to understand the current approach to work itself and the role it plays in the current social order, we created a reading circle. At biweekly meetings, we shared knowledge and read literature on labour theory, care, post-colonialism, labour movements, etc. in order to understand the hierarchy of values that places product above process, productivity and profit above the worker themselves.
In keeping with our precarious lives, the conduct of the reading circle took a different form from week to week. From the original concept of collecting, reading and studying literature, we moved on to watching recorded lectures and films. The group got smaller every week. However, the way we worked had to adapt more and more to our busy schedules and low energy levels. So we unconsciously confirmed to ourselves that the existing work structures and lifestyle were hindering rather than enabling quality and purposeful work or engagement.
The desire to find alternative ways of working and living was soon replaced by the need to unlearn patterns of work and adopt other ways of receiving, sharing and constructing knowledge. Thus, our position of searching for ideal forms, which in itself indicates a neoliberal and above all inherent striving for “perfection”, was replaced by the principle of openness, adaptation and acceptance – in the final phase even recovery – which we understand as central on the way to restructuring a harmful value system.
With the project and exhibition Work in Progress. Reflecting on Communities Beyond Capitalism, we shed light on the precarious and dangerous social situation into which the present-day worker is thrust. The exhibition creates a temporary point of support with a co-working space for the exchange of opinions, with resting and learning spaces, as well as an entry point into the process of unlearning unjust and harmful work structures. Trade unionist Tea Jarc (Youth Plus Trade Union), Dr Svetlana Slapšak (retired professor, classical philologist, anthropologist and writer) and Jadranka Vesel (Rise, Research Institute for Social Economy) generously shared their views on work, the contemporary worker, community and the future.
The discursive programme organised for the exhibition, which aimed to collectively reflect on the processes and ways of learning about work, collaboration and community building, was complemented by an event prepared by the artist and writer Andrea Knezović. This is an all-night, community-based rest and work exercise on institutional interruptions that serves as a break from the regular gallery programme and includes various habits, artistic explorations and informal knowledge sharing. The focus is on the phenomena of sleep and rest, which we consider through performative forms of work – with an emphasis on community action, temporal boundaries and mythological heritage.
The exhibition Work in Progress. Reflecting on Communities Beyond Capitalism points to the need to rethink current forms of work and activity and to recognise, internalise and challenge certain patterns of behaviour and oppression. Ways of recovery and empowerment can be seen in knowledge sharing, community building and the creation of new living and working conditions. The dismantling of the existing hierarchy of values, which neglects the worker in favour of profit and false “progress”, can be seen as the key to creating a more just world.
Vesna Bukovec, Tia Čiček, Ana Čigon
 We would like to thank the following for participating in the reading circle: Elvis Krstulović, Iva Kovač, Miha Kelemina and Urška Aplinc.
 Taken from a conversation with Jadranka Vesel, 24.8.2022 in Ocizla (Slovenia).
Vesna Bukovec (1977) obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. She is a socially critical artist who expresses herself in various media, with drawing being prominent alongside video. She has shown her work in many solo and group exhibitions in Slovenia and internationally. She also works in graphic design and curates video art. Since 2015, she has been an expert associate of the DIVA Station archive of video, film and new media art at SCCA-Ljubljana.
Tia Čiček (1992) has a master’s degree in Art History and has curated exhibitions locally and internationally, introducing alternative processes of curation and collaboration that challenge the curatorial. Due to their interest in contemporary art in a broader as well as local context, they attended the Thinking with Works of Art course under the mentorship of Ruth Noack and Grace Samboh at the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in 2018 and completed The World of Art School of Curatorial Practices and Critical Writing in 2020. Since January 2020, she has been the artistic director of Škuc Gallery.
Ana Čigon (1982) is an artist working in video art, film and performance. Her projects address social issues such as the underrepresentation in history, memory and public monuments, LGBTQIA+ issues, critiques of neoliberalism, etc. Her works often contain elements of humour, irony and satire. She presents her works in solo and group exhibitions in Slovenia and internationally. She received the OHO Award for her video work, while her documentary, experimental films and animations have been included in selected competition programmes of numerous Slovenian and international film festivals.
Andrea Knezović (1990) is a visual artist, writer, and researcher with an MRes in Artistic Research from the University of Amsterdam and a BA from the AVA-Academy of Visual Arts Ljubljana. Her artistic practice plays with semiotics and dialectics of value by examining correlations between institutional and identity politics. Knezović is the chair of the board of the Salwa Foundation (NL) and co-founder of the MARC Foundation (NL) where she develops Art & Research public programmes. She has contributed to various discursive journals including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Thresholds Journal, Lish Journal London, University of Amsterdam Simulacrum Jurnal – Tijdschrift voor kunst en cultuur.
Slovene proofreading: Inge Pangos
Slovene translation and proofreading: Arven Šakti Kralj
Cover image: Vesna Bukovec, Ana Čigon
Design: Lea Jelenko
Photos from the opening and exhibition events: Simao Bessa
Exhibition view: Klemen Ilovar
Project partner: SCCA-Ljubljana
Acknowledgments: Društvo ŠKUC, Elvis Krstulović, Iva Kovač, Jadranka Vesel, Jonathan Crary, Katja Praznik, Knjižnica REČI, Kristina Božič, Ksenija Vidmar Horvat, Maša Hawlina, Mesto žensk, Miha Kelemina, Mirovni inštitut, Mojca Senegačnik, Prostorož, Stripburger, Svetlana Slapšak, Tanja Petrović, Tea Jarc, Tina Podbevšek, Urška Aplinc, Vasja Progar, Založba /*cf, Založba Sanje, Založba ZRC, Založba Sophia, Zavod TransAkcija
The Škuc Gallery programme is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Ljubljana.