Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Celje, Celje...where in the world is Celje?

Proving that publicity in English pays off on some level, the art center in Celje, the third largest city in Slovenia, has just advertised its newest exhibition by Franc Purg, "Coming Soon, The Future" (or some such title, it's quoted from memory).

Purg's Celje projects, or the older ones of Skupina ("Group") described on his website, sound like they might be of interest to artists operating in cities in similar global situations; the fact that the Skupina projects described below are over a decade old indicates one of the problems that artists have globally, even when they have a website, in getting their message out somewhere past the city limts of their locality:


Manifesto, Celje, 2000

Established in the "historical" town of Celje, we are an informal and exclusively voluntary group that does not bow to any pressures and interests dictated by capital, political parties or institutions. Because we feel a void in the civil sphere or public activity, we wish to fill it by freely responding to problems in the town, Celje. By means of a public manifestation of different opinions, and through provocation, we wish to encourage critical thinking and action on the part of the population of Celje. We are working to turn Celje into a place which allows the coexistence of a wide range of social groups and individuals, thus improving the quality and variety of life in our town which is drowning in passivity and growing increasingly negative towards open-minded initiatives. We are working to improve urban culture, and make the streets a place for communication, social events and the expression of creativity accessible to all inhabitants and visitors.

Miha Ceglar, Brane Piano, Tone Zimsek, Franc Purg are the founders of Skupina. Skupina's activities centre on the local society. Its membership is flexible, changing according to each project.


Roundtable, Celje, 2000

Skupina's first action was a roundtable discussion with various speakers who experience the town of Celje in different ways and who hold a critical view of the town and its life. The event, which took place in the courtyard of the Lower Castle, was attended by a high number of young and middle~aged local people. The speakers were mostly former citizens of Celje, but now live elsewhere. They spoke about how Celje left them indifferent and how the passivity of the local environment cancelled almost all possibilities for articulating different opinions and expressions.

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