Video evening with DIVA Station: Rene Rusjan

Artist talk and screening
Friday, 24 February 2023, 7 pm
Photon Gallery, Trg Prekomorskih brigad 1, Ljubljana

Rene Rusjan, Puhun Suomea, 2004, video still

At the February Video Evening, we are hosting Rene Rusjan, visual artist, sculptor, professor and program director of the School of Arts at University of Nova Gorica. She will present part of her diverse artistic oeuvre, with an emphasis on video projects.

The early years of work of Rene Rusjan — she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana with a degree in sculpture in 1987 — were marked by large-scale sculptures made by arranging multiple free-standing elements from scrap iron castings around the gallery or outdoor space and assembling them into constellations. Rusjan participated in the symposium of large sculptures in Aberdeen, Scotland (1986) and several other art workshops in Yugoslavia (Prilep 1988, Pančevo 1989), exhibited regularly in Yugoslavia and abroad. She was the initiator of sculpture exhibitions in the garden of Vila Katarina in Ljubljana, a private non-profit gallery under the direction of Milena Kosec. In 1990, she organized a sculpture exhibition there, and in 1996 she returned with the day-night multimedia project Holes in Space, Holes in Time. The video documentation of the event is included in the DIVA Station archive.

After the breakup and the war in Yugoslavia, between 1993 and 1994, she temporarily stopped making art to work with refugees from Bosnia. This experience marked her future artistic practice. She became interested in everyday life situations and interpersonal communication. She started creating spatial installations using different media such as video, photography, sound, internet, written and spoken word, direct contact and personal collaboration. She began to place her works in spaces outside the galleries and invited the public to participate.

At the urban avant-garde art festival Break 2.2 The Invisible Threat in 2003, Rene Rusjan participated with a series of eight video interviews on the theme of the invisible threat that the home can represent. The videos were shown in a private apartment.

She addressed the vigilance of everyday life, and the importance of language in mutual communication in the video loop Wake me up if I fall asleep (2006) and with the video Puhun Suomea (2004), where she learns Finnish as part of an artist’s residency in Finland.

Rusjan addressed topics of joint research and collaboration with the public within the framework of the art Reading Room projects (U3, Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana 1997). She made the Reading Room SCCA 2007 project in the SCCA Library ten years later. She participated several times in the international festival Stazione di Topolò and joint domestic and international group projects.

In a multifaceted video project initiated in 2012 entitled Faraway, So Close! Distance Conversations she has been conducting long-distance conversations with many interlocutors she meets locally and around the world, reflecting on the experience of being a refugee and working in refugee centres, displacement, family and home.

In 2014, Rene Rusjan held at the City Art Gallery Ljubljana a retrospective exhibition, What I talk about when I talk about…, and in 2018 at the City Gallery of Nova Gorica, the exhibition episodes of memory in networking, (non)selected works.

Rene Rusjan has also been active in teaching for a long time and, together with Boštjan Potokar, founded the Famul Stuart School of Applied Arts in 1994. Over the years, the school has expanded and transformed into the current School of Arts at the University of Nova Gorica, where she is the program director, leading tutor of the Contemporary Art Practices module and mentor in visual arts and sculpture. In addition to teaching, her broad field of activity extends from visual, multimedia and performance art, scenography and design to conceiving and curating exhibitions and complex art projects with large groups of authors.

Foto: arhiv Galerije Photon

At Video Evenings with DIVA Station, we host authors who are included in the archive and invite them to talk about their work and the background behind creating individual video projects. The presentation in the gallery (artist talk) is accompanied by projections with comments, followed by a conversation with the audience. The Video Evenings are prepared by Vesna Bukovec, a professional associate of the DIVA Station archive of video, film and new-media art.

Production: SCCA-Ljubljana/DIVA StationPhoton Gallery
Supported by: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and City of Ljubljana – Department for Culture