Jure Cvitan, Matej Čepin, Tomaž Črnej, Milojka Drobne, Andreja Džakušič, Maja Hodošček, Robert Hutinski, Narcis Kantardžić, Bojana Križanec, Nea Likar, Simon Macuh & Estella Žutić, Tomaž Milač, Keiko Miyazaki, Ervin Potočnik, Lana Požlep, Franc Purg, Mojca Senegačnik, Ana Straže, Iva Tratnik, Dalibor Bori Zupančič, Dr. Xenia (Andreja Džakušič, Simon Macuh, Keiko Miyazaki, Iva Tratnik)
The (Im)Balance exhibition presents works by Celje artists that the Centre for Contemporary Arts has acquired for its permanent collection since 2016, as well as recent or new works by invited artists, who either live and work in the Celje region or whose work is significantly tied to it, but whose works are represented significantly less or not at all in the permanent collection in comparison with others. By bringing these aspects together, the exhibition on the one hand offers an insight into the most recent creativity in the Celje arena but is also conceived as a form of reflection (already used in the past) on the current status of the permanent collection: who are those artists that enrich it with their works (and to what extent in terms of the number of works), and who are does that are omitted, and hence the direction the future acquisitions of works should follow.
Since the 1990s, the collecting policy of the Center for Contemporary Arts has focused mainly on collecting works by artists associated with the Celje region (before that, it concentrated on the entire Slovenian arena; from its beginnings with the first acquisitions in the 1960s, it took form through the purchases of works primarily by those artists who were part of the exhibition programme of the CSU’s oldest exhibition venue, Likovni salon). Among the set-ups of the permanent collection, which at the time of the new collecting policy, problematised the lack of funds allocated for acquisitions and consequently the lack of representation of a whole range of artists associated with the Celje arena, the exhibition Voids (2007, curated by Alenka Domjan) stands out, which drew attention to the problem literally: in the set-up, the artworks by the artists that were part of the collection alternated with the artists’ names on the walls that merely marked the empty spaces – the gaps their works should have filled. A significant change took place in 2006 with the move by the Municipality of Celje to allow artists who rent studios owned by the Municipality (mostly studios that are part of the Art Quarter U4 in the city centre) to pay an annual rent in the form of artworks that become part of the permanent collection of the Centre for Contemporary Arts. This decision, which is the only source of new acquisitions apart from isolated donations, marked the beginning of a significant expansion of the collection. Some gaps from the Voids period were filled with an exhibition From Community to Paradise (2016, curator Irena Čerčnik), which presented works that became part of the collection after 2007, but the exhibition with guest artists nevertheless emphasised their lack of works in the collection – which was partly filled by donation, not yet by purchase, directly after the exhibition. Nonetheless, the exhibition represented a significant achievement: a relevant overview of contemporary production in the Celje arena consisted largely of new acquisitions in the collection in an encouragingly short period of time; made possible, as mentioned above, by donations from artists and cooperation with the Municipality of Celje.
This time the presentation of the new acquisitions to the collection over the last six years, which differs from the previous one mainly in that during this period we have acquired artworks from artists who have rented the municipal studios, while donations have dried up and we have not been able to obtain funds for purchases, nevertheless continues the effort to review the current and diverse creativity of Celje, which is why half of the participants in the exhibition are invited artists. (Due to the limited space available, we lack some art figures, which was the reason for this year’s decision to invite those artists who are not only tied to Celje but also actively work in the city, most of whom have been establishing important and unique connections and collaborations over many years: they are initiators, organisers and participants in the annual Admission Free festival, they participate in joint art projects and temporary artist collectives, and also as part of the U4 Art Quarter). This time the exhibition highlights the issues that revolve around the tendency towards an imbalance in the permanent collection, which in the future can lead to an otherwise rich but one-sided representation with works by only some of the artists represented in it. It is all the more important to plan acquisitions and, of course, to raise funds.
Zavod Celeia – Center sodobnih umetnosti Celje
Supported by: Mestna občina Celje
Curator: Irena Čerčnik
Text: Irena Čerčnik