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Past Events

The internationally acclaimed Irwin group was established in Ljubljana in 1983 by 5 artists: Dušan Mandič, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek, and Borut Vogelnik. Along with the music group Laibach, the performance group Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre (which later evolved into Noordung Cosmokinetic Cabinet) and the design section Novi kolektivizem (NK), the Irwin group is part of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) movement. Irwin is represented by the Gregor Podnar Gallery. In 2004 Irwin received the Rihard Jakopič Award, the most important visual arts award in Slovenia.

The name of the group Irwin comes from a reference to Marcel Duchamp (Rrose Sélavy) and was initially Rrose Irwin Sélavy but was soon shortened to R Irwin S.

Working procedure

In the work of the group, two fundamental approaches may be observed. The first is an emphasis on collective working rather than privileging the individuality of the artist. All the projects are signed Irwin; only for the paintings and smaller projects produced after 2004 is it known which of the members is the creator. The second important characteristic is the so-called retro-principle, whereby works become a collage of quotations and allusions to various sources, such as past symbols, iconography, and philosophical ideas. The group explained the paradoxical position of retro-avant-gardism in an official statement The Future is the Seed of the Past in 1987.

Since the 1990s, Irwin's complex and provocative art practices have been characterised by parallels between aesthetics and institutional criticism, the creation of discussion platforms and international dialogue. The group has been concentrating on a critical examination of art history by pointing out the artificiality of the historical structures of Western art that continue to this day to exclude contemporary Eastern European art. Irwin's projects intervene in social and historiographical activities and have helped redefine the status of art in Eastern Europe.


From the 1980s, Irwin's most important projects are, for instance, "Red Districts" (1987), a painting that commemorates history and work, art and totalitarianism, "Was Ist Kunst" (1984), a series on the ideology of art, and "Four Seasons" (1988).

Among the most important projects realised by Irwin during the 1990s there are Retroavantgarda (1994–2000), mapping specific artistic practice on the territories of ex-Yugoslavia, Transnacionala (1996), a journey across along the lines of colonisation from west to east across of the United States, NSK Embassy Moscow (1992), Black Square on Red Square (1992), a guerilla action that took place on Moscow's Red Square, Kapital (1991), an exhibition in Clock Tower Gallery in New York, and the East Art Map.

East Art Map (EAM)

The project aims to critically (re)construct the history of contemporary art in Eastern Europe (from 1945 on). The project is based on the idea that history is not given but has to be constructed and the fact that the documentation of the contemporary art scene in Eastern Europe has been very poor. In EAM, artists are taken out of their national frameworks and presented in a unified scheme of the Eastern European art scene. In collaboration with New Moment: Magazine for Art and Advertising, Irwin invited a group of eminent art critics, curators, and artists from different ex-socialist countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe to create the basic database. It was first published in an issue of New Moment in 2002, then a CD was made, and in 2004 EAM was put online as a truly participatory project open for contributions. Since Irwin does not seek to establish some ultimate truth, the map is still being upgraded by public proposals. The website is part of the e-flux projects and includes instructions on how to participate. The book East Art Map: Contemporary Art and Eastern Europe, edited by Irwin, was published by Afterall in 2006.


Irwin has realised about 150 projects and solo exhibitions in Europe (most of the exhibitions have been held in Germany, Slovenia, and Austria), Russia, and the USA. Irwin's solo exhibition Construction Of The Context was on display in Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn in September 2012. The exhibition Time for a New State was held in London, Pristine, and Leipzig in 2012 and a year prior in Moscow. The project started in Lagos where Irwin members found signs saying "Time for a new state" on advertising billboards and decided to use them as a ready-made. Among other projects focused on the state there was also IRWIN–NSK Passport Office presented in MoMA Print Studio in New York in 2012; The Eye of the State, an exhibition curated by Avi Pitchon for the Israeli Center for Digital Art staged in cooperation with the Public Movement in 2010; and the first congress of NSK citizens which took place in Berlin in 2010. There it became clear that the NSK citizens are self-organised and can develop their country on their own, for example, they started with a series of events Rendez-vous in Lyon, London, New York, and Leipzig.

Another of Irwin's mofe recent projects Was ist Kunst Hugo Ball (2010) was presented in Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich and in Gregor Podnar Gallery in Berlin, where Irwin's Monochromes were on display in 2008 as well.

Art collections

Irwin's work is included in 14 important art collections, such as the collection of the Museum of Modern Art MoMA in New York, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig MUMOK in Vienna, ESSL MUSEUM in Klosterneuburg, Kunsthalle zu Kiel in Kiel, the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb in Zagreb, Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje in Skopje, and Moderna galerija in Ljubljana.

International group exhibitions

Since its beginnings, Irwin has exhibited at several prestigious international exhibitions, for instance, After the Wall–Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe in Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1999, Aspect / Positions – 50 Years of Art in Central Europe 1949–99 in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest; at the first Manifesta in Rotterdam in 1996 and at Manifesta 09 in Genk, where the work Red Districts was on display in 2012. Among other important exhibitions, Irwin participated in the 50th Biennale di Venezia in 2003; the 9th Istanbul Biennial in 2005; at Eye on Europe in the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2006.

During the last few years Irwin's work has been included in over 20 group exhibitions per year. In 2012, for instance, Irwin participated in Collaborations & Interventions in CCA Andratx; Quadratic Equations in Kepes Institut in Budapes;, Moving forward, counting backwards in Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo - MUAC in Mexico City; Spirits of Internationalism in Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst in Antwerpen, and many others.

See also

External links

Official websites

General references

On projects and artworks

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The internationally acclaimed Irwin group was established in Ljubljana in 1983 by 5 artists: Dušan Mandič, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek, and Borut Vogelnik. +
The internationally acclaimed Irwin group was established in Ljubljana in 1983 by 5 artists: Dušan Mandič, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek, and Borut Vogelnik. +
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