Kustosova delovna soba (The Curator’s Room)
an apartment exhibition series

Part I: Inexplicable Presence
November 27, 2021, 7:00PM (Screening)
287 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, Canada

Dear friends,
You are warmly invited to attend Part I: Inexplicable Presence, the first event of a series of apartment exhibitions. This series starts with a 69-minute screening program, composed of two videos reflecting on the important work of Slovenian curator, art historian and writer Igor Zabel (1958-2005).

Inexplicable Presence (Curator's Working Place)
Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, 1997

Digitized VHS tape. Recorded by the Moderna galerija, Ljubljana
Courtesy Moderna galerija, Ljubljana

This 5-minute video documents Igor Zabel’s 1997 exhibition Inexplicable Presence (Curator's Working Place). In this intimate, mute portrait, the video scans each artwork from the exhibition. Handheld, the camcorder's autofocus catches the reflections from the framed works and wanders around the small room, a temporary office and exhibition space, in the basement of the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This fragmented collection of clips is an opportunity to investigate the curator’s room, to project Zabel’s desires for a different scale and , as he writes, “the possibility of low-budget projects.”1 Dear to its curator, this exhibition included works of Heimo Zobernig, Mladen Stilinović, Uri Tzaig, Angela Greuerholz, Jochen Gerz, Jože Barši, Lewis Baltz, Suchan Kinoshita, Yuri Leiderman, and Per Kirkeby. Inexplicable Presence (Curator's Working Place) was held at the Moderna galerija at the same time as Epicenter Ljubljana, an exhibition curated by Harald Szeemann. This synchronicity reveals the context within which Zabel initiated another way to think of what he qualifies “ the peripheral, ephemeral, accidental, and arbitrary."2 A year later, Zabel would write about his exhibition, and would use it as an example within the broader thought: “The emphatically personal or even arbitrary nature of the work often characteristic of the contemporary curator is actually the deconstruction of the position of power and selection."3

The Curator’s Room
Igor Zabel: How to Make Art Visible?

Damjan Kozole, Slovenia, 2018, colour/black-white, 64 minutes.
Courtesy Vertigo, Zavod za kulturne dejavnosti.

" 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 visual arts from the end of the 1980s until his death. Through the film, we learn how, in that epochal time – at the turn of the century and at the intersections 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.

Interviewees: 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 and Sonja Zabel, Božidar Zrinski, Beti Žerovc, Peter Weibel."4

This series, Kustosova delovna soba (The Curator’s Room), not only quotes within its title Igor Zabel’s 1997 exhibition, but draws its impetus from it: “Every working day for two weeks, I sat in the basement room, together with the works, and I spoke with the visitors about them. When there was nobody in the room, I often looked at them myself. It was an unusual time for me."5

I would like to thank Urška Jurman at the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, Ida Hiršenfelder at the Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art plus
Muzej sodobne umetnosti Metelkova / Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova and Danijel Hocevar at Vertigo, Zavod za kulturne dejavnosti.

Please RSVP to christophebarbeau.email[at]gmail.com for the apartment number and to confirm attendance.
If you are not able to attend the screening, and are interested in the videos, write to me for more information.

Please feel free to forward this invitation.

All the best,
Christophe Barbeau

Still from Inexplicable Presence (Curator's Working Place), Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, 1997.

Still from The Curator’s Room, Igor Zabel: How to Make Art Visible?, 2018.

1 Zabel, Igor. Inexplicable Presence (Curator’s Working Place), Ljubljana : Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, 2020, 9.
3 The quote continues: " (Speaking about “deconstruction,” I am not trying to say that the curators can eliminate their role as the instance of power in the institutional system of the world of art, but rather that they reveal this role clearly and no longer present it as something “objective” or “natural.” )” Zabel, Igor. “Exhibition Strategies in 1990s: A few Examples From Slovenia”, Contemporary Art Theory, Documents series. Dijon: les presses du réel, Zurich: JRP|Ringier, 2012, 139.
4 https://www.igorzabel.org/en/about-igor-zabel/documentary
5 Zabel, Igor. Inexplicable Presence (Curator’s Working Place), 13.