forth year: 2001/2002 series of lectures: lectures / conversations with lecturers / lecturers

course for curators of contemporary art: course participants / study excursions / program collaborators / exhibition / course participant's texts


Sandra Sajovic
Cultural Tourism

Within the frame of the course for curators of contemporary art (the final result of which is the exhibition) study trips are also organised. This year we visited Vienna and Belgrade. The purpose of the study trips is getting to know the international art scene, visit cultural and art institutions and getting an insight into the mechanisms of operation of the entire cultural industry.
Because of the specifics of the cultural tradition and the current cultural-political and economic situation of the visited countries we were witnesses to two completely different town atmospheres and local artistic scenes.
On one hand Vienna, a historically important centre of cultural and artistic manifestations, rich with museums and galleries, which reach from mega institutions of high culture to small sale galleries, from multinational businesses exhibition pavilions to squatter's temples of art, from the diversified centres to narrowly specialised exhibitions. Due to the busy schedule there was little time for in depth discussions with the heads of the artistic programs and curators. On most occasions we managed to obtain merely the basic information as regards the proliferation of the gallery, the manner of operation, the budget, etc. The surplus of the visit itself was the round table at which the artists and the leading cultural workers of individual underground movements (which were the driving force of the resistance movement against the conservative policy of the leading party headed by Jörg Haider) co-operated. The theme was of great importance for us, for at the time we have already roughly limited our subject of investigation, i.e. the phenomenon of activism as a way (cultural and political) of committed operation within the artistic system. In fact, the round table provided the only true opportunity to obtain a deeper insight into the actual work of the local scene during those few days of cultural tourism, for from the visits of numerous exhibition venues all we were left with were merely calling cards. However, the visit to Belgrade had a completely different concept. The running from one gallery to another was substituted by a whole day's visits to the Center for Contemporary Arts - Belgrade, during which the organisers tried to encourage discussions on the theme politics and art through lectures by theoreticians, presentations of some artists, art groups and galleries as well as a round table. The overview of the artistic production of the last decade on the Yugoslav soil and the visits of those few active institutions gave us a clear picture of the conditions in which the artists still create and live and the galleries, museums and centres operate. Maybe the entire scenario lacked time for socialising, therefore it happened that instead of attending a lecture one preferred to visit a local artist, where one could also get to learn about the local gossip. The latter is not usually a part of the regular study programme, but may sometimes give you a better insight into the events.
Undoubtedly the study trips and exchanges are an important and necessary segment at expanding the knowledge and friendships as well as at the training of the new curators of contemporary art, at which the most important is the personal commitment of the individual, for even the best programme does not offer any benefit to the passive external observer.