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Word for word, without words

Mestna Galerija, Ljubljana

38 slovene phrases in an interdisciplinary exhibition

comunicato stampa

Marina Abramović in Ulay, Maria Ångerman, Vesna Bukovec, Attila Csörgő, Zvonko Čoh, Edvin Dobrilovič, Domestic Research Society, Igor Eškinja, Tomaž Furlan, Kostja Gatnik, Albert Heta, Damijan Kracina, Siniša Labrović, Giovanni Morbin, Ivan Moudov, Alban Muja, Miki Muster, Arjan Pregl, Provokart, Marija Mojca Pungerčar, RIGUSRS (The Researcs Institute for Geo-Art Statistics of the Republic of Slovenia), Hinko Smrekar, Ive Tabar, Slaven Tolj, UNIKUM (University of Klagenfurt, Cultural Center)

Curator: Alenka Gregorič

Artifacts and documents from collections
Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana, National Museum of Slovenia, Celje regional Museum, Slovene Ethnographic Museum

Exhibition concept and selection of works
Alenka Gregorič in Društvo za domače raziskave (Damijan Kracina, Alenka Pirman, Jani Pirnat)

Expert associates
Erika Kržišnik, Mateja Podlesnik, Janez Polajnar, Petra Zaranšek, Bernarda Županek

What happens if we divest language of figurativeness and start taking it literally, word for word? With a number of selected idioms from the Slovenian language as our points of departure we have explored linguistic directness and presented it in an interdisciplinary show. Underpinning the project is our everyday experience of using idiomatic expressions in written and spoken language. We have highlighted three levels of that:

1st translation – literal
When using the idiom "ta pa ima maslo na glavi" (which would literally translate as "he/she has butter on his/her head"), we are implying that the person so described is a shady character or is guilty of dishonesty. We usually never think of the idiom in its direct, literal sense. A person with butter on their head can also just be a person with butter on their head. The first level hopes to encourage back translations or a literal understanding of the selected phrases.

2nd translation – visual
What does a person with butter on their head look like? Why like that and not some other way? Does that even matter? Can a back translation of an idiom be used as a starting point for the visualization, the objectification, the making of an artwork, or for the selection of an already existing artwork which appears in a new light thanks to the idiom? In 1967, American artist Bruce Nauman made a relief body cast reaching from the model’s hand to her mouth. That’s also the title of his piece: From Hand to Mouth. An idiom that tends to be used to take the edge off the immediacy of poverty here takes on the dimensions of a human body. How subversive! The second level thus shows how to go around in circles, drill a hole in one’s knee, live on the edge, or sharpen a woman’s tongue. How to observe back translations and renounce the pathos of picturesquely portraying circumstances, as we tend to do with idioms?

3rd translation – spatial
How to present a person with butter on their head in a gallery? Who is next to them and why are they accompanied by a strip of skin off someone’s back, while two news anchors mutely exchange glances on a nearby TV set (apparently, political commentators are most prone to using idioms)? The third level brings together various materials (artworks, museum exhibits, and archival documents) in a spatial installation.

Literalness is not possible.

Domestic Research Society

Saturday, September 25 at 11a.m. to 7p.m.
Voluminous Trousers, Marija Mojca Pungerčar
Wednesday, September 22 at 6pm
Wednesday, October 13 at 6pm
Wednesday, October 27 at 6pm
Guided tour of the exhibition with Domestic Research Society, Alenka Gregorič and expert associates.

The Mestna galerija Ljubljana (City Art Museum Ljubljana) operates at four locations:
in its original building at Mestni trg 5 (ML1);
in the building housing the gallery's permanent collection at Cankarjevo nabrežje 11/I (ML2);
in the Bežigrajska galerija 1 at Dunajska 31 (BG1);
and in the Bežigrajska galerija 2 at Vodovodna 3 (BG2).

Opening view: Wednesday, September 15 at 8 pm

Mestna galerija Ljubljana - City Art Museum Ljubljana
Mestni trg 5 SI 1000 Ljubljana
Opening hours:
Tuesday-Saturday 11 am - 7 pm
Sunday 11 am - 3 pm
Closed on Monday and public holidays
Entrance Free

Compagni di viaggio
dal 19/1/2011 al 5/3/2011

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