viennacontemporary2019 | The Curator’s Room

Friday, 27 September 2019: 17:00 – 18:00 | The Curator’s Room | Igor Zabel: How to Make Art Visible? | Slovenia, 2018, 64 min, in color, 1:1,77 / 16:9

The Curator’s Room, a documentary film dedicated to the art historian and curator Igor Zabel (1958–2005), focuses on Zabel’s work in the field of fine arts from the end of the 1980s to his death. Through the film, we learn how, in that epochal time – at the turn of the century and on the intersection of (post)modern and contemporary art, the local and international art space, socialism and capitalism, East and West, artistic and social/political –, he faced in his work not only great changes and conflicts, but also possibilities for the new. 

The film portrays not only a man who, despite the internal contradictions of the art world, persistently believed in the power of art, but also the time and space in which Igor Zabel worked and which he co-shaped.

About the film

As an art historian and curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, Zabel importantly contributed to an adequate historical placement of artistic phenomena such as historical avant-gardes (Tank!, 1998) and neo-avant-gardes (OHO: Retrospective, 1994), but also contemporary artistic practices. In Slovenia, he was one of the key art historians who defined contemporary art as a specific art practice and importantly contributed to its establishment, also in the international context (Manifesta 3). In addition, he always incisively reflected on the conditions in which contemporary art emerged.

In his work, Igor Zabel constantly emphasised the significance of context. In turn, the film contextualises his work – from the changing geopolitical context and accelerated globalisation to the changing institutional framework of art production, including the role of curators.

The documentary tells of his concept of the curator’s role, his key exhibition projects and their backgrounds, his interventions into Slovenian art history, his literary works and the texts with which he importantly co-created the reflection on the relation between the (former) East and West as it was manifested in the field of art after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In his theoretical and curatorial work, he advocated an in-depth consideration of the political and social sub-currents that can contribute to a better understanding of art and, at the same time, insisted on the capability of art to tease apart the very substrata that so importantly determine it. His interest in researching the complex relations between the social and the artistic was also the basis of Individual Systems, an exhibition he prepared for the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), which inaugurated him as a referential international curator.

Director Damjan Kozole
Scriptwriter Urša Jurman
Camera Matjaž Mrak
Editor Jurij Moškon
Sound Julij Zornik
Music Laibach (Von Sonnen Untergang)
Producer Danijel Hočevar
Production Company Vertigo
Co-Production RTV Slovenia, Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory
Financial support by Slovenian Film Centre
Distribution Vertigo

Zdenka Badovinac, Jože Barši, Francesco Bonami, Barbara Borčić, Ekaterina Degot, Ješa Denegri, Charles Esche, Vadim Fiškin, Sergej Kapus, Samo Krušič, Boris Marte, Viktor Misiano, Marjetica Potrč, Igor Španjol, Borut Vogelnik, Mateja Kos Zabel, Bojan in Sonja Zabel, Božidar Zrinski, Beti Žerovc, Peter Weibel

Author’s statement

“When Igor Zabel died in 2005, I was abroad. I opened my computer and saw a black-and-white photo of him on a portal. His sudden and unusual death resounded among all of us who work in art. This is not merely a film about Igor Zabel, but also a film about a time that brought essential shifts in the understanding and evaluation of art in the context of great social and political changes. In addition to the reflection on Zabel’s heritage, the film includes important documents that tell us how contemporary art was born and established in Slovenia and Eastern Europe.” Damjan Kozole

About the author

Damjan Kozole (born 1964 in Brežice, Slovenia) is an award-winning Slovenian filmmaker whose directing credits include nine feature narrative films: The Fatal Telephone (1987), Remington (1988), Stereotyoe (1997), Porn Film (2000), Spare Parts (2003), Labour Equeals Freedom (2005), Forever (2008), Slovenian Girl(2009) and Nightlife (2016) as well as feature documentaries The Birth of Lear (1993), Long Vacation (2012) and Project Cancer (2013).

His films received several awards and nominations: Spare Parts was nominated for the Golden Bear at Berlinale and ranked by Sight & Sound in 2008 among ten most important films of the New Europe, worldwide released Slovenian Girl premiered in 2009 at Toronto, Pusan and Sarajevo IFF, while Nightlife received Crystal Globe for Best Director at Karlovy Vary IFF.

In 2005, a retrospective of Kozole’s feature films took place in USA and Canada, hosted by the American Film Institute. He’s a member of European Film Academy.


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Save the Date
26–29 September 2019
Marx Halle Vienna

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