draft version

term the sustainable museum
narrator Zdenka Badovinac
published 10 January 2017

On the one hand, my term “sustainable museum” refers to the concept of the museum that we are developing at Moderna galerija based on the needs and urgencies described by the expression Low Budget Utopia, which forms the title of the last exhibition of works from our collection. On the other hand, this term tries to point to some similar ideas in contemporary art, especially from the territory of former Yugoslavia.


It seems that innovations or big breaks in art and in its institutions are not something that is characteristic of our time, at least not in terms of radical shifts inside the existing art genres or art media or in the existing types of institutions. At the same time, we can’t say that there are no radical shifts at all: there are, but they are less recognisable because they are taking place on the borders between different disciplines or between art and society, and can sometimes be only fully understood through their belonging to different ontologies.


Having incorporated institutional critique, art institutions have become self-reflexive; among other things, they have developed a stronger interest for broader issues of society and its histories. As for Eastern Europe, which has recently undergone major historic changes, history became one of the most important subjects. Local histories in particular are something that is being constantly revisited. Not only historians, everybody does this – from politicians, for whom history is an instrument in their present-day games of power, to contemporary artists, who are focused on the emancipatory potentials from the past and on their present-day erasures.


In a series of collection exhibitions that took place at Moderna galerija between 2012 and 2015 under the title “Repetition”, we repeated the same exhibition nine times as a reference to both the unbearable conditions of our work and to some characteristics of contemporary art. These were defined through a series of “re’s” such as abound in the international art and curatorial jargon :redefinerethinkrevisit.


Repetition became crucial for the museum concept that we named “the sustainable museum”. This concept was developed in more detail in the exhibition from our collection entitled Low Budget Utopia, which initially took up the whole building of the MSUM, but was later reduced by one floor to make room for temporary exhibitions