In April this year, the exhibition Hello World opened in one of the central Berlin museum/gallery spaces, the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, which forms part of the Nationalgalerie. Also Moderna galerija, Ljubljana participated in the exhibition, and this part of the exhibition will now be on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova in Ljubljana.
The exhibition Sites of Sustainability: Pavilions, Manifestos and Crypts consists largely of selected works by Eastern European avant-garde artists from Moderna galerija’s Arteast 2000+ and national collections, combined with works from a number of other public and private collections from Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Serbia, and Poland. The exhibition was presented earlier this year as a chapter in the extensive exhibition project Hello World, staged in one of central Berlin’s museum/gallery spaces, the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, which forms part of the Nationalgalerie. While the Berlin show was comprised mostly of works from the 1950s to the 1990s, the Ljubljana show presents another two, more recent art collectives to underscore the important tradition of collective work in the region.
The exhibition foregrounds alternative models of artistic production such as they developed in Eastern Europe in socialist times, in particular in the territory of former Yugoslavia. Between the 1950s and the 1990s, artists in Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, Hungary and Poland devised various alternative models of artistic production, in particular as a performative aspect of their art. Rather than merely critically describing the existing conditions, either directly or indirectly, they used their art to actually shape their conditions of work. Thus sites of sustainability can be understood as a kind of parallel infrastructure, built especially through work in local and international collectives and networks, through exhibitions in self-organized spaces, through self-publishing, through parallel economies, and through self-historicizing. This was art that built and maintained social relations and a critical understanding of the world, which it continues to do to this day.
Sites of sustainability are not characteristic only of art, since art always critically affects also its institutions (as long as they are open to alternative approaches). One of the main challenges museums face today how to participate with autonomy in global cultural networks, how to find or shape alternative distribution channels for contents, channels that will not only serve the most affluent and powerful global cultural spaces. In this sense, the Berlin exhibition features more than just works from the Arteast 2000+ collection, but also Moderna galerija and its Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova as an institution with a vision for the globalized world.