When the group Rrose Irwin Sélavy was founded in Yugoslavia in 1983, its members Dušan Mandič (b. 1954, Ljubljana), Miran Mohar (b. 1958, Novo Mesto), Andrej Savski (b. 1961, Ljubljana), Roman Uranjek (b. 1961, Trbovlje - †2022, Ljubljana) and Borut Vogelnik (b. 1959, Kranj) were between 22 and 29 years old. They came from the punk and graffiti scene of Ljubljana. Together with the music group Laibach, the theater of the sisters Scipio Nasicas and the design department New Collectivism (NK), IRWIN is still one of the main groups of the artist collective New Slovenian Art (NSK), founded in 1984.
What is art, IRWIN? (curators: Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter) focuses on the Slovenian artists' collective IRWIN, which will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023. Since 1983 IRWIN has been dealing with the art history of Eastern Europe, especially with the ambivalent legacy of the historical avant-garde and its totalitarian successors, i.e. with the dialectic of avant-garde and totalitarianism. Since the 1990s, the group has concentrated on a critical, iconoclastic questioning of the art history of "Western modernism. It playfully and abysmally contrasts this with an "Eastern Modernism" in the form of the "Retroavantgarde". In the 2000s, the NSK state in time becomes relevant: a state without territory, but which issues passports as "confirmation of temporal space". In the vertical on the U3, posters advertise tourist trips there during the exhibition.
The exhibition consists of two major chapters. The first exhibition chapter asks about black humor, which is always present in IRWIN's works. The second chapter is dedicated to questions of the state - and how IRWIN uses it to comment on current issues such as migration.
In the vertical on the U4, the window of Museum Ostwall (MO) presents IRWIN's new production Was ist Kunst, Bernd und Hilla Becher?, which was created using the German artist couple's nine-part series Fördertürme (1973-1989) (MO Collection).
To accompany the exhibition, a new HMKV magazine (2023/2) will be published by Verlag Kettler in October. In addition to new essays by Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter and a comprehensive photographic documentation of the exhibition, it also contains a so-called "source book" (texts: Inke Arns, Lara Both), which for the first time systematically breaks down the image sources of IRWIN's works and classifies them (art-)historically.