This summer I had to chance to go to both Documenta in Kassel and the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts. Here’s my photos from one of the Ljubljana Biennial exhibitions that allowed photos. The theme of this Biennial was this poem by Slovenian writer Jure Deleta (and inspiration from Karel Destovnik). There was no overall curator of the festival this time, previous winners of prizes were allowed to each choose an artist to take part. Ljubljana is a small, easy-going city, and so was the art festival, although the artwork and exhibition presentation were high quality. None of the stress of Documenta. I have written a zine about my trips to Slovenia and Croatia this summer, available here, and am in the process of writing one about my time in Germany.
Metelkova is an area in the centre of Ljubljana that was originally a military barracks, then was squatted in the early 90s when the Yugoslav army pulled out after Slovenia declared independence, and is now full of social centres, workshops and gig venues. (And a hostel where I stayed overnight before crossing the border to Klagenfurt for work).
The most famous area like this is Christiania in Copenhagen. I was very disappointed with Christiania when I visited last year. I liked some of the buildings there, but the central market area was sleazy and tacky and there was an aggressive atmosphere, and the place it most honestly reminded me of was the red light district in Amsterdam. Maybe its glory days were in the 60s and 70s when it was founded.
Metelkova is a different proposition. It had a friendly and relaxed attitude, and I never felt any qualms about wandering round by myself, an atmosphere probably helped by the fact that the city government takes a generally positive attitude to its existence. They still don’t pay any rent, but no-one seems to care. It was clean and pleasant- people seemed to respect the communal space.