• Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation.


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One of the most attention-grabbing projects of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) movement in the post-socialist 1990s was the State in Time project carried out primarily by Irwin. The first important point to be made here is that the NSK State in Time implied the absence of any kind of physical territory, and the second, that it operated through the virtualization and transfer of national elements in a wholly temporal form in which cause and effect were not spatial but linked through information.

The NSK Embassy in Moscow was established in the context of the internationalization of the important Eastern European phenomenon known as Apt-Art (Apartment-Art)–the producing and exhibiting of art in the private apartments of Moscow's underground circles. The Embassy project did not attempt to achieve equilibrium in the opposition between totalitarian ideology and the untainted "non-ideological" private sphere (although it did preserve something left over from the totalitarian style of claustrophobia), but rather it tried to actualize both spheres as two sides of the same coin (Slavoj Žižek's formulation), both of which will disappear in a post-socialist democracy.

NSK Embassies were realized in Moscow (1992) and Ghent (1993), and at the Berlin Volksbühne (1993). Consulates were opened at the Hotel Ambasciatori in Florence (1993) and in the kitchen of private gallery owner Marino Cettina in Umag, Croatia (1994). From a historical viewpoint, the NSK Moscow Embassy and the NSK Umag Consulate were essentially and directly linked to the presentation of Irwin's projects in the mid-1980s, including Irwin's exhibition “Was ist Kunst?” (What is art?) held in a private apartment in Ljubljana in 1984. In this extreme utopia, Irwin's NSK Embassy means not only a break with analogy, but also a break with representational models on the basis of which we establish our certainty through similarity. This is also one possible way to understand the notion of the "mapping" of post-socialism.


Dušan Mandič, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek and Borut Vogelnik

Founded in 1983.

The group IRWIN was founded in 1983 and at first called Rrose Irwin Sélavy. In 1984, together with the musical group Laibach and the Scipion Našice Sisters Theater, IRWIN created the collective “Neue Slowenische Kunst” - NSK (New Slovenian Art). Soon after its founding, the group had shortened the name to R Irwin S. and, after forming the larger collective, to IRWIN. In 1987 the group gave an official statement on their activity in form of the text “The Future is the seed of the past”. IRWIN’s members presented their work to the collective for approval. Afterwards they were stamped with the group’s monogram.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2017 “NSK State Pavilion", Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy &, Vienna, Austria

2010 “IRWIN“, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, Switzerland

2009 “IRWIN: What is Art“, Kalmar Konstmuseum, Kalmar, Sweden

2008 “Black Square on the Red Square“, Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia, Bulgaria

2007 “History Re-constructed“, Culturgest, Lisabon, Portugal

2006 “East Art Map“, Collegium Artisticum, Sarajevo, Bosnia und Herzegovina

2005 “Like to Like“, Gheto, Split, Croatia

2004 “Hysteria and two of her female friends“, Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia

2003 “Retroprinciple“, Museum of Modern Art, Belgrade, Serbia

2002 “Sound Icons“, Bonomo Gallery, Rome, Italy

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2011 “The Global Contemporary. The Art World after 1989“, ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany

2010 “Things Evokes Feelings“, Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland

2009 “Europe XXL“, Tripostal, Lille, France

2008 “Kontakt … Works from the Art Collection of Erste Bank Group“, Institute of Contemporary Art, Dunaújvàros, Hungary

2007 “Kontakt Belgrade. Works from the Collection of Erste Bank Group“, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, Serbia

2005 “Collective Creativity“, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany

2004 “The Post_Communist Condition“, Kunst-Werke, Berlin, Germany

2003 “Individual Systems“, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy

2002 “(Un)painted“, Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Hisrich, Robert D., Peters, Michael P., Shepherd, Dean A. 2010. Entrepreneurship. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.


IRWIN, ed. 2006. East art map: contemporary art and Eastern Europe. London: Afterall Book.


Arns, Inke, ed. 2003. Irwinretroprincip, 1983-2003. Frankfurt: Revolver [Exhib. Cat., Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Sep. 26-Oct. 26, 2003), Karl-Ernst-Osthaus-Museum Hagen (Nov. 15, 2003-Jan. 4, 2004), Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade (Apr. 17-May 17, 2004)]


IRWIN, ed. 2002. East art map. Ljubljana: Sakan Dragan.



Other Media


Buden, Boris. 2006. Single Talks. Boris Buden in conversation with IRWIN, Katrin Klingan, Piotr Piotrowski. Vienna: Zone. 1 DVD (60 min.)


Brunner-Szabo, Eva, Lampalzer, Gerda Lampalzer, eds. Gržinić/Šmid: A Selection of Videos Works 1990-2003. Vienna: Arge index (Index DVD Edition; 005), 1 DVD.

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