The World of Art, School for Curatorial Practices and Critical Writing is the sole program in Slovenia aimed towards practical and theoretical education in the field of curatorial practices. It comes out of a premise that future experts need and should be taught the skills and methods, along with gaining knowledge and insight into the critical and theoretical apparatus as all this should eventually help them when tackling the complex matter of contemporary visual arts.
In 2011, we implemented two year school program, which was designed on the basis of several years’ research on various curatorial programs, analysis of curatorial practices, consultations with relevant national and international experts, and an evaluation of the past program and consideration of effective models of education in the field of contemporary visual arts and theories. After successful conclusion of educating the 15th school generation and twenty years of being active, we returned in January 2017 with a renewed program.
The school has two years (January 2017–June 2017, September 2017–June 2018) and consists of three sets: Lectures, Seminars and Modules and Practical Work.
The first year (January 2017–June 2017) is dedicated to the acquisition of art-historical, theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills. The lectures are focused on learning about art system, cultural policies, exhibition history and history of curatorial practices. Seminars in the first year are dedicated to critical writing, analysis of artworks and theory. Curatorial Research concerns practical aspects of curator’s work.
The second year (September 2017–June 2018) is dedicated to critical and curatorial studies and practice. The program includes regular meetings with tutors, studio visits, curatorial mapping, seminars, research work, and modules on the practical work of the curator. Through weekly meetings with tutors Alenka Gregorič and Miran Mohar the participants will conceptualize and prepare an exhibition of contemporary art and its accompanying events.
The World of Art as an educational program was introduced in 1997. It was developed out of a need for theoretical and practical education in the field of contemporary visual art and which no university program in Slovenia offers. Formal education in art history has included neither contemporary production nor the art theory of the 20th and 21st Century and the young experts have mainly turned towards past periods due to their lack of knowledge and apparatuses for decoding contemporary tendencies in art. In the eighties and nineties, art production in Slovenia formed an important agent in cultural and social processes and was also integrated into international scene, while the theoretical and curatorial apparatuses lagged behind. In response, the World of Art program brought a series of public lectures, which shed some light upon the artistic practices and art theories significant for the understanding of contemporary arts. As a unique program in this field, it also offered a course for curators of contemporary art, enabling participants to gain knowledge necessary to perform the work of a contemporary art curator.
In the first year, the World of Art programme, which was developed by Alenka Pirman and Lilijana Stepančič, was organised at the Škuc Gallery. In 1998 it became the programme of the Soros Center for Contemporary Arts – Ljubljana and gained a specific international character thanks to the Center’s extensive international links, especially within the Region (Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the newly formed countries of the former Soviet Union). This was also the year, in which the course was upgraded with study excursions abroad, offering participants the opportunity to look beyond the borders of the local situation and familiarize themselves with the variety of various methods, approaches and techniques of operation in the art system and art milieus of neighbouring countries.
In 2000 we upgraded the course with Workshops in Art Theory and Practical Work, which turned into Seminar in Contemporary Art Writing in 2003, regular part of the programme since Year 7 (2003/2004). The seminar stimulated texts on contemporary art and initiated new discourses and methods of recording and historicizing contemporary artistic practices.
In its seventh year (2003/2004) the educational program World of Art grew into School of Contemporary Art. It was composed by the course for curators with final exhibition, seminar in writing, series of lectures and a yearly anthology.
That same year, we remodelled the educational programme in the Laboratorium of Curatorial Practices. We invited former course participants and participants of the seminar and among the applicants selected seven, who have since established themselves in the world of contemporary art. Joint research and thinking on the design of the outcome event was upgraded with analysis and reflection of World of Art’s past activities. And more importantly, our Laboratorium was used for real-time verification of our mission; it also offered the opportunity to consider ideas of the entire curatorial scene. Thus, we organized two roundtables, which brought together all the key protagonists of curating in Slovenia of the past forty years. The Laboratorium has been concluded twice, with one-week project entitled LabSUs at Škuc Gallery in June 2007 and with exhibition LabSUs personal/osobno in the City Gallery in Labin in October of the same year. These were two different ways of realizing one specific curatorial practice: at Škuc Gallery the curators made their curatorial daily life visible with continuous presence and intensive multi-faceted public, semi-public and internal one week-long programme; in Labin their curatorial credo was shown with a selection of works of art and individual curatorial statements.
After a number of different formats we have tested until 2009, with the Year 13 (2010/2011) we established individual course segments (course for curators, seminar in writing) and variety of formats (workshops on writing, close reading workshop, exhibitions, modules, lectures) as World of Art, School for Curators and Critics of Contemporary Art with two year long programme. The first year was devoted to the acquisition of art-historical, theoretical and methodological knowledge; the second year was devoted to curatorial and critical studies and practical work. The pilot year helped to further reflection on the structure and contents of the programme. Instead of eight months in 1997, the school now lasted two years. To the pilot programme of the first year of 13th generation, that consisted of chapters from the art of the 20th and 21st centuries, close reading workshops, study excursions, workshops on writing about art and interpreting, targeted visits to exhibitions, a Seminar in Theory and guided studio visits were added in Year 14. Above all, we extended the course from the trial of 6 months (2010/2011) to a full year.
After successful completion of the Years 14 and 15, we return in January 2017 with renewed school programme and a new name – World of Art, School for Curatorial Practices and Critical Writing. School consists of two years, and is divided in three different segments: Lectures, Seminars and Modules and Practical Work. Lectures in the first year are focused on learning about art system, cultural policies, exhibition history and history of curatorial practices. Seminars in the first year are dedicated to critical writing, analysis of artworks and theory. Curatorial Research concerns practical aspects of curator’s work. The second year includes regular meetings with tutors, studio visits, curatorial mapping, seminars, research work, and modules on the practical work of the curator and designing exhibitions. Part of the programme, are series of public lectures, which are this year again dedicated to curatorial practices.
From the beginning, the school was set as an international course with number of international lecturers and often even participants from neighbouring countries.