Slovenia Venice
Marko Peljhan, 'Here we go again... System 317', 2019, installation view. Photo: IW/MB

Question 1. (Manca Bajec and Isobel Wohl) Ralph Rugoff writes that this year’s exhibition, entitled May You Live in Interesting Times,‘will no doubt include artworks that reflect upon precarious aspects of existence today, including different threats to key traditions, institutions and relationships of the “post-war order.”’ How do you feel that the work that you are presenting as part of your curated project responds to this set of concerns? (Or, for curators, how do the curatorial choices you have made respond to this set of concerns?)

Marko Peljhan: The work we are presenting at the Biennale Arte 2019, Here we go again…System 317, is very much in complete synchronicity with Rugoff’s curatorial intentions, even though this was not in any way connected to its genesis. I have simply resurrected a research topic I have been following for more than a decade that deals with edges of technology that have extreme geopolitical implications. The rest just fell into place in beautiful serendipities, from the collaboration with the Trošt&Krapež architecture group, to the creation of the special edition Šum magazine Hypersonic Hyperstitions publication. The work among many other things deals with the understanding that our current planetary, earth-bound existence is in constant deterioration due to human interventions in the biosphere and questions the possible exits from our current predicaments in a poetic and but also tragic way, through a very appealing illusion.

Question 2. (MB and IW) What does it mean for you as an artist, a curator, or a curatorial team to represent your country? How does the structure of the Venice Biennial, with its individual national pavilions, influence your choices as a participant? What does it mean, in terms of the current state of European and world politics, for us to emphasise national representation in the arts sector?

Peljhan: The art world is a complex system of value exchange and Venice is the first among more than 200 biennials currently in existence. Add to that all the trade fairs and museum exhibitions and you have a very rhizomatic and pretty decentralised situation. There is nothing much to say about it. It exists, therefore one has to be in dialogue with it.

Art from Slovenia has a lot to offer to the world, but so does the art from many other places. I find the national representations a curious remnant of the past world order. On the other hand, it seems that we are returning to that rather deterministic old situation in the current geopolitical shift. The dominant discourse in the current art world is still deeply rooted in the West; there are of course different regional focuses such as China and to a lesser degree Africa and South America, but the market is speaking for itself and the dominating institutions are deeply rooted in the US and Western Europe.

Question 3. (MB and IW) How do the choices you’ve made in your national pavilion relate to recent developments in your artistic or curatorial practice? What do you hope that your creative decisions in this project will contribute to your work going forward?

Peljhan: As with every work, I like to think of it as logical progression: opening many more questions, thinking about how to evolve the current work in the future. But for me, one of the best things that happened within the project curatorially is that we were able to involve the younger generation of artists and intellectuals that are working around the Šum collective and that we pulled off the publication.

This is in the end what will remain as the legacy of this project, or so I wish.

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Manca Bajec is an artist and researcher living and working in London, UK and Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Isobel Wohl is a visual artist and writer. She lives and works in London, UK and Brooklyn, NY.

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