IRWIN - Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK)


In the 1990s one of the most attention-drawing project of the NSK movement, mainly carried out by the group IRWIN, is the project NEUE SLOWENISCHE KUNST - STATE IN TIME. It was in the context of paradigm of this kind that the NSK Embassies were realised. The NSK EMBASSY and NSK CONSULATE projects can be read as specific social installations which symbolically and artistically simulate the transfer of the phenomenon of NSK into another cultural, social and political context. NSK Embassies were realized in Moscow in 1992, in Gent (Belgium) in 1993, at the Berlin Volksbühne in 1993; NSK consulates were opened in Florence, Italy in 1993, at the Hotel Ambasciatori, and in Umag (Croatia) in 1994, in the kitchen of the private apartment belonging to the gallery-owner Marino Cettina.

The group IRWIN established the NSK Embassy in Moscow in a private apartment (address: Lenin Prospect 12, apt. 24) in May and June 1992. There IRWIN exhibited paintings from the "Capital" series. Posters, design work, video works by LAIBACH and a play by the THE NOORDUNG COSMOKINETIC THEATRE CABINET were also presented. Lectures and public discussions were led by guests - invited critics, theoreticians, artists from Slovenia, Russia, Croatia, Serbia. The facade of the residential dwelling was embellished with the artistically articulated insignia of a state embassy. The NSK questioning of the rhetoric of space within the new Europe included the issuing of passports (NSK State in Berlin 1993 or NSK Consulate in Umag, etc. ).

The NSK EMBASSY MOSCOW project took place in the context of the internationalization of one of the great East European phenomena, entitled Apt-Art (Apartment - Art), a phenomenon of artistic creation and exhibition in private apartments within Moscow art underground. The "Apt-Art" projects were carried out by Moscow artists and art critics Lena Kurljandzeva, Victor Misiano and Konstantin Zvezdociotov. It enabled artists and avant-garde art to survive prior to the period of Perestroika and Glasnost in the Soviet Union. The "Apt-Art" project, begun in the 1980s, represents an attempt to search for political and personal/artistic paths which run parallel to the official institutions and are physically connected with them, but politically and culturally wide apart.

Apt-Art, which emerged at the time of Brezhnev, also represented an ironic paraphrase of the American POP ART movement.

The Moscow Apt-Art emphasized the status of the private space and changed it into a center of communication through the self organization of the most excluded. The "phantasm" which structures artistic life in the former totalitarian Eastern European countries is here completely grounded in the private sphere, in the private apartment, at the kitchen table so to speak, surrounded by art-works. In the context of the post-socialist European paradigm - which today reviews this phantasm on a completely metaphorical level so that it forgets to include fear, "the fear with which we lived" in its imagery, as one of the Moscow underground theoreticians wrote - the NSK Moscow EMBASSY project represents a new actualization of the phenomenon of life and creation in private apartments during the era of communist totalitarianism. The NSK-EMBASSY MOSCOW project did not attempt to achieve equilibrium in the opposition between the totalitarian ideology and the "non-ideological" private, untainted sphere (although it is true that it holds onto something of a totalitarian type claustrophobia), but rather tried to actualize both spheres as "two sides of the same coin which are both going to waste with post-socialist democracy" (Slavoj Zizek).

NSK-EMBASSY MOSCOW gave to a private apartment which should not be present in any hierarchy of visible cultural, artistic and social areas and for this reason cannot be inserted in the social structure, the status of a historical place! Because the apartment takes on this kind of status, these concepts function as the "institution ofdifferent cultural and artistic projects and histories into the visible". This meant: to make visible what was thus far hidden from the gaze.

We deal here with repetition - so as to gain memory. The "other" is here inscribed in a certain "transition", which then refers to images, memories, histories, and cliches. As NSK artists put it, a big large kitchen table, surrounded by art works, unites the private and the public. The private apartment thus became a cultural space as well as a center of spiritual communication. Since the NSK Consulate in Umag (Croatia, 1994) was installed in a kitchen, a kitchen thus became a consulate!

The group IRWIN is today displaying an accelerated development of its Embassy projects and the transfer of NSK phenomena into another cultural, social and political context, into the corpus of space, which equals a figure, a construction, an artifact, a transposition; since space cannot precede its temporal construction. What is important here are not the circumstances of this projection into space, but this very space of difference, the space of the Other, and the transposing, integrating and determining data from heterogeneous political, artistic and social environments.

The embassies represent an exploration of sensors, prostheses and of the gaze that now depends on miniature screens which are no longer a surface but enable us to enter, to be absorbed, not into a hyper-space, but into a space that is neither outside nor inside, neither saturated nor empty - into an a-modern space (Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway). In this extreme u-topia, therefore, the NSK embassy signifies not merely a break with analogy but a break with the model on the basis of which we have established our certainty.

The ultimate destination of the travels of the NSK State in Time should come into existence in 1997 with the establishment of NSK Embassy in Beijing, China. (Marina Grzinic)