Can contemporary art mimic the rituals and ideology of a state? What does it mean to belong to the “state” that has no territory and exists only in the actions, collaborations and experiences of its participants?
IRWIN, an internationally acclaimed Slovenian art collective, explores these questions within the elaborate conceptual art project called “NSK State in Time.” Founded by a collective of artists, musicians, and philosophers in 1992, shortly after Slovenia’s independence from the Yugoslav federation, NSK State issues its own passports, opens “embassies,” organizes imaginary armed forces, and subversively simulates other functions of the state.
Sept. 22 through Oct. 24, visitors to The University of Akron’s Emily Davis Gallery can learn how IRWIN continues to develop its artistic state at the exhibition “IRWIN: NSK State in Time.” Emily Davis Gallery is in Folk Hall, home of the UA Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, 150 E. Exchange St., Akron.
The exhibition’s opening reception is Thurday, Sept. 25, 5:30 to 7 p.m. At 7 p.m. that evening, IRWIN member Borut Vogelnik will give an artist’s talk in the Folk Auditorium. The lecture, reception, exhibition and parking are free.
The exhibition and artist lecture have been organized through the UA Myers School of Art’s Myers Forum, an annual advanced course that brings prominent artists and critics to participate in semester-long activities with Myers students, exposing them to a variety of media, interdisciplinary approaches to art, and critical thinking. This year’s Myers Forum course is called “Collaborative Art Practice.”
The IRWIN collective (established in 1983), along with the music and performance group Laibach (established in 1980), the Theater of the Sisters of Scipion Nasice (established in 1983), and the design faction New Collectivism (established in 1982), comprise a broader art organization Neue Slowenische Kunst (or NSK). Using a highly developed system of discursive instruments, aesthetic symbols, and performative techniques, NSK has employed visual arts, video, music, theater, writing, and public relations to investigate the relationship between art, social context and ideology.
IRWIN’s recent projects include East Art Map (2006-2007), which sought to fill blanks in the postwar history and culture of Eastern Europe; NSK Garda (1998-2010) for which servicemen of various national armies guarded (and were photographed doing so) the flag of the conceptual NSK State; Processions (2008-2012) for which IRWIN and NSK State collaborated with churches to critically reflect on church-state relationships, and a series of exhibitions, performances and academic gatherings titled Time for a New State (Some Say You Can Find Happiness There) (2011-ongoing).
IRWIN’s projects have been presented at the Venice Biennale (2013, 1993), Museum of Modern Art in New York City (2012, 2009), Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2013-14), Tate Modern in London (2013), Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2011), Centre Pompidou in Paris (2010), Istanbul Biennale (2005, 1997), and other international venues.
For more information, call The University of Akron’s Myers School of Art at 330-972-6030.