The Great Migration

When in 2003 American Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the arguments in favour of the war in Iraq at the United Nations building in New York, a reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica, which was hung directly behind him, was hidden behind a large blue curtain. The decision behind this telling move was justified by saying a unified background was better suited for television broadcast, it was nevertheless still heavily criticized. Picasso’s scene of the horrific bombing of the small Basque town, which he painted for the 1937 world exhibition in Paris, thus took on an entirely new role in the geopolitical context of the early 21st Century, 66 years after it was first exhibited.

Works of art, after they leave from under the hands of their authors, begin to live lives of their own. At UGM | Maribor Art Gallery we therefore decided to activate works from our collection to address the present. A present which calls for a prudent reflection and evaluation of our own position in the midst of a crisis of a large number of displaced persons, which in the summer of last year developed into a political and moral battlefield on the national, European and global level and has since become a part of our everyday. Art is not just a mirror passively observing society. Art is there to comment on and evaluate society, and most importantly - it is a part of what helps shape society.

The works from UGM collection arise from within the turbulent 20th century, and as we recognise a reciprocal interrelation between the present and the recent past in other segments of social life, so too we may find a correlation between the two reflected in art. The works from UGM collection address the present in direct and indirect ways, with art’s own unique sensibility. Alongside the works from our collection, we have invited contemporary artists, who have over the course of the past decade used their voice with visionary responsibility to recognise and to bring to the fore the issue of displaced persons and their positon in our environment.
Artists: Nika Autor, Jasmina Cibic, Zmago Jeraj, Duša Jesih, Dušan Kirbiš, Ivana Kobilca, Tone Kralj, Iztok Maroh, Ante Trstenjak, Milan Vojsk, Ivan Žabota Danish focus: Naja Maria Lundstrøm, Vladimir Tomic Curated by: Jure Kirbiš, 2017
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