The 35th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts
From the void came gifts of the cosmos

Artistic Director :

Ibrahim Mahama

Curators:

Patrick Nii Okanta Ankrah, Exit Frame Collective, Alicia Knock, Selom Koffi Kudjie, Inga Lāce, Beya Othmani

Grand Prix:

Tejswini Narayan Sonawane

Research Residency Award:

School of Mutants (Hamedine Kane, Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro)

Special Mention:

Krater Collective, Soghra Khurasani

Audience Award:

Sreda v sredo (SVS)

15. 9. 2023-14. 1. 2024

Number of artists in the main exhibition: 57

Number of artists with new commissioned works: 33

Main exhibition venues:

International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC), MGLC Švicarija, Cukrarna, PLAC – Participatory Autonomous Zone in Ljubljana, Krater, Creative laboratory in a construction pit, Studio SVS

Joining the artistic director of this edition of the Biennale, Ibrahim Mahama, the curators Alicia Knock, Selom Koffi Kudjie, Inga Lāce, Beya Othmani and Patrick Nii Okanta, as part of Exit Frame Collective, were invited to respond to the Biennale theme, guided by the chosen title. Alongside the participating artists, this complex council of curatorial entities synchronously imagined the Biennale as a void and a site of potential, and as an ecosystem of friendships and solidarities, unearthed histories of resistance, liberation and transnational relations beyond the centre-periphery framework that holds the possibility of transforming the void into gifts of the cosmos. The void, in this context, suffices as an egalitarian framework out of which multiplicities emerge, while also operating as a site of artistic indeterminacy in the spirit of inclusion.

The curatorial direction was inspired by Mahama’s long-term interest in the promise of the affirmative and emancipatory politics of Ghana’s first president, Pan-African theorist Kwame Nkrumah. It was his post-independence vision that inspired the creation of the intellectual, cultural, scientific and economic infrastructure that defined Ghana’s first republic between 1960 and 1966. This vision was also expressed in the form of Non-Aligned collaborations culminating in the co-formation of the Non-Aligned Movement. The work of architects, designers, structural engineers and urban planners from the former Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland and the German Democratic Republic, among others, working on institutional buildings in Ghana was typical of the Socialist Internationalist cooperative models during this post-war period.

From the void came gifts of the cosmos offered a reflection on the entanglements of built environments, infrastructures and materials with the modern histories of anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggle, nationalism, internationalism and their contemporary echoes. Examining the ways in which the revolutionary spirit of the post-Afro-Asian independence era permeated built structures, the Biennale anchored its inquiry into the residues of this ethos. What forms of life do these infrastructures inhabit today? How can the Biennale become fertile ground for thinking about future, past and present relationships between the bodies and territories mediated, transformed and/or policed through architectural forms? Can the void created by past political failures serve as the soil for nurturing different relationships based on solidarity, friendship and intimacy? The ecological disposition of this Biennale embraced synthetic, virtual, mechanical, biological, discursive and other contingent forms of artistic determinations.

The history of the Ljubljana Biennale, founded in 1955 amid the Cold War, mirrors a similar internationalist spirit. From its inception, it has invited participants from the Non-Aligned partner countries in Africa and Asia, in addition to artists from the Soviet Union and the West with a special emphasis on the former. Thus, the Biennale archive serves as a journal revealing traces of other important gatherings and workshops in printmaking, and other mediums such as film. The 35th edition of the Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts attempted to look back at how visual culture and its dissemination and circulation created spaces of potentiality. Spaces that transcended borders and enabled these networks of Southern solidarities.

The main programme included an exhibition with site-specific commissions across multiple venues including MGLC Tivoli Mansion, Cukrarna and MGLC Švicarija, to name a few. The Biennale programme also incorporated the two Ljubljana autonomous zones, PLAC and Krater, as well as the workspace of the artist collective Sreda v sredo (SVS).

The public programme, Agyina: Advisory of Sages, curated by Exit Frame Collective, included a selection of educational, relational and ephemeral situations, such as film screenings, a symposium and debates, performance art, music events, guided tours of exhibitions, practical and discursive workshops as well as bike tours. During the course of the Biennale From the void came gifts of the cosmos, an exhibition catalogue and a reader with essays were published, which offer critical insight and illumination of the conceptual background, as well as reflection on the complex nature of the emancipatory undertone of this edition.

 

* The archive page of the 35th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts is under construction.

 

Artists

  • Anita Afonu
  • Yasmina Benabderrahmane
  • Beti Frim and Ines Sekač
  • Assadour Bezdikian
  • Virginia Chihota
  • Nolan Oswald Dennis
  • Nabil Djedouani
  • DNLM (Danilo Milovanović)
  • Jihan El Tahri
  • El Warcha in dialogue with PLAC – Participatory Ljubljana Autonomus Zone
  • Helga Griffiths
  • Christian Guerematchi
  • Eric Gyamfi
  • Janek Simon & Max Cegielski
  • Sonia Kacem
  • Soghra Khurasani
  • Krater Collective
  • Sadik Kwaish Alfraji
  • Lalitha Lajmi
  • Malle Leis
  • Silvi Liiva
  • Kagiso Patrick Mautloa
  • Raul Meel
  • Amina Menia
  • Mohammad Omar Khalil and Abed Al Kadiri (in dialogue)
  • Yussif Musah
  • Tracy Naa Koshie Thompson
  • Tejswini Narayan Sonawane
  • Medhat Nasr Ali
  • Ilona Németh
  • noks collective
  • Nonument Group
  • NPR.
  • Henry Obeng
  • Temitayo Ogunbiyi
  • Thierry Oussou
  • Tjaša Rener
  • Martyna Rzepecka
  • Duba Sambolec
  • Jaanus Samma
  • School of Mutants (Hamedine Kane, Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro)
  • Mori Sikora
  • Aldona Skirutyte
  • Sanaz Sohrabi
  • Selasi Awusi Sosu
  • Square Meter
  • Sreda v sredo (SVS)
  • Marje Üksine
  • Tõnis Vint
  • Galle Winston Kofi Dawson
  • Ala Younis
  • Lara Žagar
  • Manca Žitnik

International Jury

  • Bojana Piškur
  • Aziza Harmel
  • Raphael Chikukwa
  • Natalija Vujošević
  • Marie Helene Pereira
  • Zohra Opoku

Accompanying Programme

Biennale Organisation

Producer: International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC).
Co-producer: Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana; Cukrarna.
Artistic Director and CEO of MGLC: Nevenka Šivavec.
Head Manager and Deputy CEO of MGLC: Yasmín Martín Vodopivec.
Artistic Director of the Biennale: Ibrahim Mahama.
Curators: Patrick Nii Okanta Ankrah, Exit Frame Collective, Alicia Knock, Selom Koffi Kudjie, Inga Lāce, Beya Othmani.
Advisor of the Biennale: Jo-Anne Birnie-Danzker.
Head of Production and Coordinator: Božidar Zrinski.
Assistant Coordinator: Matjaž Brulc.
Graphic Design: Ajdin Bašić.
MGLC Collections: Breda Škrjanec.
Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts Archive: Gregor Dražil.
MGLC Print Studio: Jakob Puh.
Public and Educational Programmes: Exit Frame Collective, Lili Šturm.
Head of Communication Programmes: Lili Šturm.
Website editor and Public Relations: Sanja Kejžar Kladnik.
Communications Consultancy: Dobre zgodbe.