The Five IRWIN Artists on a Barents Tour by Land and Sea

The IRWIN artist collective (Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Dusan Mandic, Borut Vogelnik and Roman Uranjek) visited Pikene på Broen as part of our BAR International Artist in Residence programme. During their stay they joined us for the Norwegian Russian Cultural Days where they met delegates from both sides of the border and journeyed across Varangerfjord aboard Hurtigruten MS Polarlys, toured the town of Vardø and the Steilneset Memorial by artist Louise Bourgeois and architect Peter Zumthor, travelled to Nikel to explore the city with our Russian expert and toured the Pasvik valley to get an insight to the borderlands between Norway and Russia.

The visit resulted in deeper discussion with Andreas Hoffmann about the supremacists` symbol of the cross in the word “cross-border” (which appears in many Germanic languages) and how this fact could be reflected in an art work on the border between the performative and the narrative.

Despite the packed schedule the Slovenian artist collective found time to give an overview of more than three decades work at an Open Office talk here at the Pikene på Broen headquarters in Kirkenes.
During the presentation, which was attended by the public and cultural specialists from whole North Norway, IRWIN showed the projects that have made them well-known in the international contemporary art world. They described their mission of questioning the role and relevance of state structures in the modern world.

One of the most iconic and influential examples of IRWIN’s work is the ‘Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK)’ passport program – a project that creates a state in time, not in space, with no physical attributes but rather citizens who make up the ‘ideal form of the state’. Miran Mohar of IRWIN described an incident in the 90’s as an example of how far the NSK state can reach

“The Slovenian minister for foreign affairs said on the television in the 90’s that it is already time to establish diplomatic relations with the NSK state, he almost lost his job because he’s boss, the prime minister, didn’t like the idea and [thought he] went a little too far. The foreign minister was very criticised for that.”

As Miran explained the incident he displayed an image overhead of the prime minister meeting with an NSK delegation – it is the often humorous and layered concepts of deeper meaning that punctuate IRWIN’s work.

IRWIN will return to Kirkenes to prepare a project for the upcoming Barents Spektakel – Rethinking Location.

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