The 32nd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts: Birth as Criterion
This 32nd edition of the Biennial of Graphic Arts, in collaboration and co-production with many partners, delivered an extensive array of exhibitions and events. The selection of artists for the main exhibition entitled Birth as Criterion, displayed at MGLC (Grad Tivoli and in the newly renovated Švicarija), was subjected to an interesting experiment on this occasion. The recipients of the Grand Prize of the past five biennials – Jeon Joonho (2007), Justseeds (2009), Regina José Galindo (2011), María Elena Gonzáles (2013) and Ištvan Išt Huzjan (2015) – were invited to propose one artist to participate in this year’s event. These artists were then invited to nominate the next five participating artists. The process consisted of five more rounds and at the end, the 32nd Biennial was supplied by the names of about thirty participating artists.
By selecting the participating artists in such a way, the main exhibition of the 32nd Biennial of Graphic Arts set a transgressive moment for its starting point, aiming to radically transform – not only the content of the event but also its structure. This is already suggested by its title, Birth as Criterion, which refers to the poem of modernist 20th-century poet Jure Detela – a poem that provided the surge for self-reflection, the type of which the Biennial had subjected itself to. Or in other words, even when the 32nd Biennial of Graphic Arts rejected the framework of a thematic exhibition, it stemmed from a poem. Yet, this was such that it resisted to provide a leading theme to the exhibition but called for a break with its radical questioning of all polarity. The break introduced by Jure Detela’s poem resonated in the rhizomatic structure of this Biennial, which – without the central figure of a curator – instead functioned as an entity producing its own self. By leaving the comfort zone, whether in terms of Biennial tradition or established protocols of conceiving contemporary art exhibitions, Birth as Criterion foregrounded a diversity of relationships – a multiplicity that did not have a single common concept, but instead existed as a continuous flow of meaning, offering a multitude of potential connections and interactions among the artworks.
In addition to the main exhibition Birth as Criterion, the 32nd Biennial of Graphic Arts also presented the traditional exhibition of the recipient of the Grand Prize of the previous Biennial, this time Ištvan Išt Huzjan, the work by Peter Gidal, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the 31st Biennial, a project by the winner of the Audience Award of the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts, Meta Grgurevič, a Maria Bonomi retrospective, as well as a vibrant discursive programme with an international symposium. We also presented the international billboard project a good neighbour in cooperation with the Istanbul Biennial, a book of works by Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik, as well as the print portfolio of the artists included in the 32nd Biennial of Graphic Arts on display at the Kresija Gallery.