Interview with TEVŽ LOGAR
Tevž Logar is an independent curator working with various galleries and establishments. From 2009 to 2014, he was the artistic director of the Škuc Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a lecturer in 20th Century Art History at the Academy of Visual Arts (AVA) in the same city. He curated a number of group and solo exhibitions, including the project Jasmina Cibic: For Our Economy and Culture for the Slovenian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennial (2013). In 2009, he was the assistant commissioner of the Slovenian Pavilion in Venice. He wrote the screenplay of the feature-length documentary Project Cancer: Ulay’s journal from November to November (2013) and co-founded the Ulay Foundation in Amsterdam. In 2014, he was nominated for the ICI Independent Vision Curatorial Award in New York. He is also an editor, writer and art consultant. He lives in Rijeka, Croatia.
Photo: Jaka Babnik
Recently, he curated the exhibition Truth lies not only in a dream, but in many dreams in Bucharest, Romania. It features six artists who started their work almost two decades after the Romanian Revolution: MÁRTA ADORJÁNI, MICHELE BRESSAN, NORBERT COSTIN, ANDREI NACU, RALUCA POPA, LARISA SITAR. The exhibition reflects on the role of the changes that affected our most intimate lives, fragile bonds, fleeting connections and how they can be understood now. As they are.
The exhibition Truth Lies Not Only in a Dream, But in Many Dreams was organized in partnership with Fundația Groupe Renault România.
We talked with Tevž Logar about contemporary art, artists and Truth lies not only in a dream, but in many dreams, which can be seen at Eastwards Prospectus (50 Plantelor Street) until November 24.
How was the opening event?
It was super. Quite long because it took place during the Galleries’ Night, so the gallery was open until 3 a.m., but the mood was great.
How did your collaboration with Eastwards Prospectus begin?
I am an independent curator, editor and art consultant. We have a long-term collaboration, which started a few years ago, when I curated a show here, in Romania. And we have been cooperating since, with their international strategy and curating shows in the gallery.
And what about this exhibition? How did you start working for it?
I used to come to Romania regularly. I am also interested in getting to know the local reality better, I have had meetings with artists who live here. At some point, I realized that the interest of the gallery met my own interest. So, they told me: Do you want to do a show here, in the gallery? Go for it!
I would add that one of the objectives of the gallery is to constantly communicate with the local audience. This kind of shows, like ours, is one way to intensify the dialogue with the public.
What does the name of the exhibition mean – “Truth lies not only in a dream, but in many dreams”? Who gives the name of an exhibition?
All the elements that are usually understood in the preparatory phase of such an exhibition were completely open for me. So, the gallery provided the logistics, production and organizational support, but the content was actually my job - selection of artists, selection of works. For me, the exhibition title is always a process, and it comes last, since I am the kind of curator who doesn’t like “shopping”, avoiding to create a theme and then showcasing it with the works. I rather propose a frame or context for the exhibition and then I invite the artists to the dialogue, to see what would be the best work to represent the artists’ engagement. For me, the most important part of curatorial work is the dialogue with the artist.
The title is inspired from a film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini: Arabian nights (1974) and it is a poetic idea of the exhibition, also directly related to a particular moment in this film. A moment that speaks about the truth and its many ways. And here this is presented through many ways: artists’ work, poetics, ideas, place, and intimacy.
Is the truth biased?
I think we are always biased. It is said that history is written by the winners, but I have doubts about that. Maybe the winners do write it, but how much truth is there? It is always this particular narrative – political, religious, cultural, narrative in contemporary art - that we tend to accept. And I am sure it is not always the right one. There are many ways and possibilities of reading a certain phenomenon. We are many. And there are many thoughts.
What about the selection of artists? How did you choose them?
Working as a curator is a natural and standard process but each one is different. I met with artists in their studios or exchanged via email, read texts, discussed with other colleagues and I made a final selection of what I considered as most appropriate for the show. I didn’t include all the artists that I exchanged with because the exhibition as a medium has different roles – specifics of the gallery as a venue, relation of the works to the exhibition space, connections between works and how they communicate with the frame of the exhibition. I had to take into consideration these aspects, so the final selection is: MÁRTA ADORJÁNI, MICHELE BRESSAN, NORBERT COSTIN, ANDREI NACU, RALUCA POPA, LARISA SITAR.
You come to Romania often. What do you think about of our local cultural environment?
There are parts of the scene that are directly linked to the international context. There are many great initiatives in Romania: you have the Tranzit network, MNAC, several nonprofit and commercial galleries for example. Thinking generally, there are always several elements: the institutional framework, galleries, theory, art criticism. The overall is stronger if all these elements are synchronized. But, here, as in the wider geographical region, I think there is a general issue. There are producers who do a great work within their own frameworks, sometimes linked to the international public, sometimes not, but there are no or insufficient elements connecting these parts. And these connections make the scene stronger and more referential.
Does your work improve contemporary art in Romania?
It is part of a puzzle. Coming from the outside and doing one show cannot improve things – this kind of engagement should be continuous. But I have been working with this gallery which has this interest of making a cultural contribution. There are no fast solutions, you need time and my long-term collaboration and Eastwards Prospectus might contribute to a small puzzle of the whole idea. Puzzle in the gallery and gallery in the whole environment. Romanian art landscape is big – you have Bucharest, Cluj, Iași, Timisoara, so it is also a question of synchronization and exchange of interests. It would be a mistake for me to judge the exchange between the art centers, but one big question is definitely this: how is the exchange within the country organized? We have to take into consideration cultural policies, funding strategies, and nonprofit initiatives. This is the basis on which you can then build an international strategy.
How can we measure the capacity of a country to understand contemporary art? Which are the right signals?
For me, the most important thing is to measure quality. Here, in the Romanian context, you have a strong tradition in avant-garde, you have artists who have an international presence in important galleries. In that framework, I can definitely say that Romania is an important player. But these measurements are different. If you compare it to Western Europe, we have a different level of relations. Does it mean that artists are present in important art biennials? Does it mean it sells well? Does it mean it has a certain percentage of people working for important institutions, biennials, museums or big commercial galleries that are considered “decision makers”? It is hard to say because for me quality is more important than these measurements. I don’t like to measure success through labels. I think artists are relevant because of this: they break borders and bridges. Art is universal.
3 words to describe the exhibition?
Artist, surrounding and poetics.
Groupe Renault is an automotive company. When we drive, we can get fines. Is art dangerous? Does it make us more vulnerable?
From my personal perspective, being vulnerable is not bad or dangerous. In these times, when we are bombarded with information, with wars breaking out every day, immigration expansion, we shouldn’t forget the fragile elements of our lives. We need emotions, feelings, compassion. Sometimes people are really alienated, they cannot communicate on an emotional level. Art in the context of a social and political narrative is limited because it is happening in closed environments and in order to bring about change it is important to reach an ever-wider audience. This is one of the ways to do it - you transform something that is not limited only to the discourse of contemporary art, and it becomes an experience that we all have: the expression of pain, death, love, friendship, sexual identity, political engagement. The potential of art is to cross all these elements. Art (contemporary art, music, literature, film etc.) is a reminder of all the things we forgot about. I understand art in the sense of Radicality of Love, written by Srećko Horvat, where the writer talks about the important revolutions that happened in the 20th century. The Croatian philosopher Srecko Horvat gives a possible answer to the question of why is it that the most radical revolutionaries like Lenin or Che feared the radicality of love. What is so radical about the seemingly conservative notion of love and why is it anything but conservative? If you want to raise a voice in society, you need to discuss the most intimate relations as well. Art can help discuss the most intimate relations between people and this can contribute to the social and political panorama.