Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez is an independent contemporary art curator and writer based in Paris. Between 2010 and 2012, she was co-director of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers in Paris. She is chief editor of the Manifesta Journal since 2011. At the moment she is busy organizing “U3 – The Triennial of contemporary art in Slovenia” which is now on, at the Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana (through 29 September 2013).
The Triennial started in 1994 and it is an overview of the artistic production happening in Slovenia. Local and international curators are always alternating. Peter Weibel was the first international curator, in 1997.
Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez talks about the U3 Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia and the Manifesta Journal
Conversation description below
Part 1 of 2
Part 2 of 2
In the first part of the conversation Petrešin-Bachelez explains: “I was born in Slovenia but I am now based in Paris, and I was very moved by this invitation, as I am half an outsider and half an insider in the region where I grew up. For the upcoming triennial I will try to present as much as possible the youngest production, the younger generation of artists, performers, choreographers, visual artists. In Slovenia there is an immense vague of demonstrations at this very moment, everybody is on the street. The story of Slovenia being a very successful former communist country and it has been the first country of that area to enter the European Union, is really over, it all resulted to be only a dream. The citizens are no longer standing still in front of the information that there is a lot of corruption in the state and they are experiencing it quite vividly.” “When I am meeting the young artists I face a very dark vision and this is something I would like to bring forward in this Triennial.” Then she mentions a book written by New York based artist and activist Gregory Sholette. The book is titled “Dark Matter, Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture” and it was published in 2010 by Paperback. Petrešin-Bachelez says that in this book the author “talks about the 1 percent and the 99 percent, the 1 percent being the highly visible ones, or something that we can relate to as contemporary art, while the 99 per cent are the creative people that have diplomas and masters in fine arts but never find their way to sustain their practice in any way. The Dark Matter refers to something that is invisible but very very present.” “I think that these conditions are almost everywhere we look today: the Global North has the super developed art system. Whereas in the global south there has always been the issue of the relationship with the society and the highly engaged artistic practice.” “In the Western World there is still this prevailing idea that there can be an history of art written from the site of the object, an object that we can observe autonomously from the how and where it was produced. Also, if you talk about the object, how can you dissolve the subject, the subjectivity? All this canonical history of art has really to be rewritten. The artists should be actively involved into another way of writing the history of art.”
In the second and last part, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez talks about the Manifesta Journal of which she is Chief Editor.
“I have been very honored to be invited by Viktor Misiano after he has done such a great job with the Journal. I was quite moved also because in the first years the journal was edited by Misiano and Igor Zabel. Zabel was an amazing personality, but he also has been very important for my personal decision to become a curator. He was somebody really generous, intelligent and knowledgeable. After Igor died in 2005, Viktor took over the next 6 issues and he presented them even more as a kind of comprehensive survey, almost like an anthology, focused on the method of curating, what does it mean to curate, it was made like a grammar of curating. When I tried to think about how I would approach it, I immediately asked myself, what do we do when we say that we curate, what are the inspirations of people that curate? I saw it more as the possibility to talk about the practice than to talk about the discipline or the object. So I propose to change also the subtitle of the Journal, before it was “Journal for contemporary curatorship” and I proposed to change it in “Around curatorial practices.” I also introduced this idea to have a guest editor with whom I collaborate. I work closely related with the associate editor Virginie Bobin, she belongs to the younger generation of curators based in France. I proposed this idea of guest curating because I wanted the Manifesta Journal to focus on other regions then the western world, which is something that also Viktor Misiano did.
So for three issues I invited Rasha Salti, a Beirut based curator and writer, to devise the Journal together with me as a whole. And before this took place, we did one issue with Cuauhtemoc Medina and the curatorial team of Manifesta 9. This is when we got this idea that probably we talk a lot about the so-called politics of time, this notion of chrono-politics which is something related quite a lot to anthropology, and the way anthropology has always observed the “other”. Through the lenses of anthropology and ethnology, these “others” have been many times referred to as primitive nations living in the past. This relationship between past and present is very recurring in the post-colonial discourse. Especially with Rasha we approached it through three different directions to make the 3rd issue which is the last issue we do together. This issue is also about “regret”. Regret is something that refers to looking back but also tries to be quite self-reflective. From the point of view of the curator, don’t we all sometimes regret that we decided to do this job? This job means a lot of full time performance, lot s logistics, lot of trips, travels, lots of social networking. The Manifesta Journal is available on-line, the contributions are licensed through the creative commons, it is downloadable as a pdf and can be printed on demand.”