Based on True Stories. Račka Festival 2022: Spaces and Articulations of Sexuality. Over Overview exhibition and Series of Performances
14. 1.—17. 4., Gallery of Contemporary Art

Asiana Jurca Avci, Jaka Babnik, Boris Beja, Goran Bertok, Saša Bezjak, Sara Bezovšek, Rajko Bizjak, Vesna Bukovec, Andrej Brumen Čop, Lea Culetto, Vuk Ćosić, Ana Čigon, Andreja Džakušič, Eclipse (Tina Kolenik in Samira Kentrić), Mina Fina, Olja Grubić, Dejan Habicht, Betina Habjanič, Leonora Jakovljević, Žiga Kariž, Iztok Klančar, Andrea Knezović, Tatiana Kocmur, Tanja Lažetić, LEALUDVIK, Aprilija Lužar, Slađana Mitrović, Keiko Miyazaki, Peter Mlakar, Iza Pavlina, Tadej Pogačar, Arjan Pregl, Franc Purg, Sara Rman, Miha Satler, Zvonka T. Simčič, Nataša Skušek, Tomo Stanič, Ana Straže, Iva Tratnik, Manja Vadla, Tadej Vaukman, Noemi Veberič Levovnik, Valerie Wolf Gang

Performances: 15. 4. and 16. 4. 2022

Saša Bezjak, Olja Grubić, IvAnKe, Iztok Klančar, Tatiana Kocmur

Račka Festival, a project spanning over several years that deals with the relationship between sexuality and art, ends with a comprehensive exhibition of selected artworks created in Slovenia from the 1990s to the present day, as well as a series of performances prepared especially for this edition of the festival. The exhibition Based on True Stories. Račka Festival 2022: Spaces and Articulations of Sexuality presents various contents and spaces of the sexual that have emerged in contemporary Slovenian art production, as well as different approaches to them in art. It is divided into three content areas body, liberation, intimacy and will be shown at the Gallery of Contemporary Art, Likovni salon and Račka Gallery, including mediums from painting, objects, drawings, photography, video, installation to performance.

In the last three decades, marked by the transition from socialism to capitalism, the wars in the Balkans, the cultural colonisation of the East and, more recently, the severe effects of global warming, contemporary art is beginning to address political dimensions in personal and everyday life, also through sexuality. Art that deals with sexuality is no longer just a representation of the naked body and sexual intercourse, nor is there any discussion about the difference and boundary between erotic art and pornography, which used to be the predominant form of dealing with sexuality in the Slovenian arena. The artworks derive from the understanding of sexuality as a social construct and explore, through performative practices and the representation of corporeality, (contemporary) forms of intimacy and (new) spaces of pleasure, conditions of sex work and ways to change, cultural inscriptions and mechanisms of body objectification, the repressiveness of the hetero-patriarchal paradigm and the processes of liberation from the binary social order. Since the 1990s, the art of sexuality has been linked to feminist theory and queer studies and, with the aim of emancipating a wide variety of sexuality and gender expression, has become a space for the representation of a multiplicity of identities and an active platform for change, especially with regard to the deconstruction of patriarchal notions of femininity and heteronormative concepts of sexuality. In this context, the City of Women and Red Dawns festivals should be mentioned, which were launched in the mid and late 1990s and also advocate for greater representation of women in culture. The second half of the 1990s in Slovenia was marked by a turn to the body and the penetration of artworks that critically and often radically address issues of corporeality and sexuality. An important venue for the presentation of such practices was the Kapelica Gallery, which intensified the viewer’s experience through the immediacy of its events, such as in the international performance festival Explicit Sexual Practice as Artistic Expression. Body art performances and the use of one’s own body in addressing sexuality, as well as the blurring of the line between art and pornography by incorporating pornographic elements to reflect on sex as a commodity and the consumption of the body, as well as broader social issues, were established.

The last decade, as the culture of contemporary relationships, when intimate relationships and concepts of sexuality have changed drastically due to the proliferation of technology and atomisation of society and we are witnessing growing insecurity in sexuality that the growing therapeutic discourse seeks to resolve, has been captured by sociologist Eva Illouz through the concept of negative relationships, which she defines as the inability to form meaningful and binding bonds.[1] The impermanence and transience of the contemporary times is also addressed in the field of art. We are witnessing a diverse production of art that reflects contemporary sexual entanglements and touches on new concepts of intimacy, explores the influence of the ideology of choice, the rise of sexual paraphilias and new forms of fetishism, deals with violence towards the other, and enters the realm of sex portals and internet pornography through the formation of cyber identities. The address is critical or emphatically humorous, direct or in a way that at first glance does not reveal the reference to sexuality and its associated contexts, while the edition – like the previous ones and the orientation of the Račka Gallery since its beginnings in 2005 – locates itself with the exhibited works and the performance programme in a space beyond constructions and discriminations.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue that includes an overview of the events of the last three decades and a survey of the performances that have taken place at the editions of the Račka Festival. The texts have been contributed by Katja Kobolt, Slađana Mitrović and Domen Ograjenšek, and the design by Neža Penca.

 

Curated by: Irena Čerčnik, Maja Hodošček
Supported by: Ministrstvo za kulturo RS, Mestna občina Celje

 

[1] Eva Illouz, The End of Love: A Sociology of Negative Relations, Oxford University Press Inc, 2019.

 

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