Guy Eytan, IvAnKe (Andreja Džakušič + Keiko Miyazaki + Iva Tratnik), Neža Knez + Danilo Milovanović, Kresnička (Tatiana Kocmur + Liza Šimenc), Dana Lev Levnat (Permanent Vacation), Iza Pavlina, Nez Pez, Matija Plevnik, Franc Purg, Mojca Senegačnik
Curator: Tal Gilad
Always and Forever was formed as a result of the AIR Celeia curatorial residency run by the Centre for Contemporary Arts. It is conceived as a situated project concerning the town of Celje. It faces and reframes the colonial gaze of tourism to address Slovenian wanderlust and the relation between the center and the rural-urban fringe.
The exhibition and related events gather female and pro-feminist perspectives on travel, adventure, mobility, notes of a journey, and different takes on exploration and discovery. But why would a situated project be about travel and mobility? It suggests ways of how one can decolonize the notions rooted in tourism, and questions the perception of curator in residence as an insider/outsider. As collaborations stem from art-based-friendships, the methodologies were setting up processes, giving agency and supporting ongoing individual and collective practices, addressing local art community issues and connecting through horizontal learning. The artists exhibiting are experimenting with different aspects of the sense of place and placelessness through juxtaposition, embodiment, challenge of the male-dominated photographic discourse, and a more inclusive institutional critique. Projects cannot be encapsulated between these white walls because their trajectory extends towards the river, the streets, the city forest, the pub, the town, the side roads that lead to the town, as well as to the inner self and the outside world.
Cut and Paste Worldview (first room)
Guy Eytan and Mojca Senegačnik apply a collagic approach with Sketch Towards Another Twin and Burning Desire. They re-appropriate content from illustrative photography of pictorial warnings and stock footage and juxtapose it with visual art, philosophy and psychoanalysis. The resulting work displays the neoliberal apocalypse of current times. Their journey is singular in a world as viewed by the media. They act as if they were conspiracy theorists directly addressing the viewer, in overidentification with their source material.
Self-discovery, Embodiment, Nature, Country, nation (second room)
This is discovery done by processing texts that are meaningful for the artists, and by channeling private experiences from one body to another. They confront the limitations imposed by gender hierarchies in the feminist category, as it is examined at its most ‘dangerous’ territory – the sexual and the sexualized body. Franc Purg’s monument-like installation Hack the matter twice is a display of mediums failing us when expressing one-sided love and devotion. The reality is brutal: Slovenian patriotism turned into nationalism, desire becomes death, fantasy becomes a nightmare. The artist is driven with the longing to disarm power and give in to tenderness.
Through Purification Rituals, Kresnička attempts to break free of the same male-dominated gaze so rooted in art history. They perform bare while being close to the city and nature of this region, as they look to heal, find strength and empowerment through art and friendship.
Celje as a Destination (third room)
Both Matija Plevnik and Neža Knez + Danilo Milovanović address the issue of Celje’s domestic tourism. Knez and Milovanović are traveling from Ljubljana to Celje by bicycle, a symbol of leisure, ecology, and political protest, as the protagonist. They are joined by their friends in solidarity. They cycle through the side roads (that are often busier in the opposite direction) and pass by small villages. Fast Art is broadcast on the exhibition opening day through a live stream.
Can Celje as a destination be rehabilitated through conviviality?
Matija Plevnik chose to convey In Word and Picture an accurate representation of Celje’s current touristic strategy. It may be read as a parody, but it is authentic. If the residents self- colonize, they fall into a tourist trap and buy into a marketing machine that turns a place into a consumption product designed as a single-use experience. The visitor is given an option to either embrace this, go home and make instant linden tea, or to rebel and sign up for Plevnik’s anecdotal alternative guided tours in the area, normally saved for tourists, yet lately enriched by local participants.
Permanent Vacation? (forth room)
Introducing contemporary Alma Karlin: photographer Dana Lev Levnat.* Her worldly travels are based on circular wandering through an exploration of local rural areas with displays of incidental splendour. Meticulous pure photography, Glory Box shares moments of her life/art performance of ongoing journey (2013–) titled Permanent Vacation.
*The artist is planning to travel to Celje as a living work during 2021 as a commission.
Artwork mobility and Sister Cities (corridor)
Two artists based in Germany, Guy Eytan (Leipzig), and Nez Pez (Berlin), exemplify the mobility of artworks made remotely, destined to be shown in this place and context – Celje, Always and Forever. How does site-specific translate when “local” is someplace else?
These personal gestures put the awkward global project of ‘sister cities’ to shame. Vessels of Acceptance and Change and Pez Push Berlin transport the raw and subjective essence of the urban city. They give alternatives to distribution and circulation in a way that tackles the capitalization of art by ignoring the rules of art as a commodity and the existence of the canon.
Sites turned Studios as Supportive structures (studio)
Iva Tratnik Andreja Džakušič, Keiko Miyazaki and Iza Pavlina are exhibiting in the studio gallery – works of a nomadic studio practice. 4 days 5 nights is the title signifying the time IvAnKe spent together at the treehouse (where there is an additional display). It is a three-way empirically surreal creation of cultural staples and the collective unconscious, taking place in the heart of the city forest.
Iza Pavlina lacked a permanent workspace in Celje as AQ (Artists Quarters), we addressed the issue by inhabiting a gallery space temporarily. The right part of the gallery is operated by Iza Pavlina as an active workspace since mid-August, and it will continue until November 15 as an Open Studio where she will be working and exhibiting whatever she wants!
Project is supported by:
Maja Hodošček, Inbar Kemp, Tamkoučiri, Frenk Theotim Dolžan, Jerica Tuhtar, Lana
Požlep, Mark Požlep, Jure Cvitan, Borut Špeglič, Turistično informacijski center Celje (TIC), Zavod Celeia Celje.