Dušan Mandić (1954,
Ljubljana) graduated in 1981 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana,
where he went on to complete postgraduate studies under Professor Janez
Bernik. Between 1980 and 1982 he was artistic director of the Škuc Gallery
programme. In 1983 he became a member of Irwin group.
Some time ago the Škuc Gallery had
been inviting conceptualists from Belgrade ( Raša Todosijević, Goran
Đorđević, etc.) and Zagreb (the PODRUM /Cellar/ circle - Stilinović,
etc.). In 1980-81 these were the first presentations of another
kind of practice here. Among the most interesting exhibitions in
that period I would mention Đorđević's "Harbingers of the Apocalypse",
where you could not grasp anything if you did not know what was
all about. It was strange even for me - at that time I was working
on small objects.
I believe it is important that we
introduced a new practice to the Škuc Gallery. After the OHO group,
conceptualism ceased to exist here. The OHO exhibition in ŠKUC in
1978 was a group retrospective and it did not have any influence.
OHO is a peculiar symptom in this part of the world: when it disappeared,
this disappearance was literal. All that has remained are a few
photographs. Obviously no one had made any effort to save the original
works. This is a great loss. Numerous sculptures were made in the
last decade that could be directly related to OHO, but are not -
instead, they relate to foreign (British, for example) sculpture.
This is not really necessary, since we have our own origins.
It was only when we brought conceptualists
from Zagreb and Belgrade that this sort of reasoning in art came
back to us. I believe that Đorđević, for instance, has greatly influenced
the whole of NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst). At the same time this
involved the production of alternative culture. ŠKUC was a central
point around which all the developments turned. The gallery also
covered music and literature (cassettes, fanzines). Only the fine
art section of ŠKUC was working permanently, while all others were
only temporarily active.
Another important thing, in my opinion,
is that we began to announce and review our exhibitions in newspapers.
I even had some trouble at the Academy of Fine Arts, because Prof.
Bernik did not want me to write in newspapers. I think that the
Škuc Gallery was the only gallery with a significant programme at
that time - all other galleries were ruled by a strictly bureaucratic
principle. For a number of years, the Museum of Modern Art was an
entirely closed space with its permanent collection and the Biennial
of Graphic Art. And then, when Dr. Mikuž took over there, he made
an alternative to ŠKUC out of it, which does not seem logical to
me. However, this question was more or less settled later on. The
Škuc Gallery is the first step, and the Museum is the last, while
the intermediate steps - private galleries - are still missing.
The Škuc Gallery functioned on the
municipal and national level. Today it should acquire the status
of similar galleries abroad, i.e. art centres financed by the state
and run by boards of specialists (for example, PS1 in New York).
ŠKUC was a cultural junction of the
new generation, and there is no reason why this should not be the
case in the future.
Based on interview Dušan Mandić, respectively,
put down on paper by Alenka Pirman.