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Sweet Protocols
UGM Studio, Trg Leona Štuklja 2
23 June–29 July 2023
opening: Friday, 23 June 2023, 19:00

artists: FaceOrFactory, Tamara Lašič Jurković, Dorijan Šiško, Andrej Škufca
curator: Jure Kirbiš

The exhibition Sweet Protocols presents four projects by artists of the younger generation, created in 2021 and 2022 within the framework of the U30+ programme of the Aksioma Institute for Contemporary Art. It is a continuation of the successful collaboration between Aksioma and the Maribor Art Gallery, this time for the third time in a row, after the exhibitions "Hi, Can You Hear Me Alright?" (2018) and "Hi, Where Are You Now?" (2020). The artworks by FaceOrFactory (Eva Smrekar, Aljaž Rudolf), Tamara Lašič Jurković, Dorijan Šiško and Andrej Škufca are for the first time presented together after their solo presentations in Aksioma's project space. The exhibition thus offers a more complex reading of the individual works, which, in dialogue with each other, create a space for in-depth reflection on social, political, economic and aesthetic phenomena and transformations in the post-digital era.

In the exhibition, the authors address the parallels between micro-organisms and social structures, the gamification of economic and other social processes, the problematics of the ideology of positive thinking within a permanent state of crisis, and the conflict between the extraction and abuse of non-renewable natural resources and environmental demands for reduced growth – phenomena and transformations that capitalism generates for its own perpetuation. The exhibition highlights the protocols, the sequences of commands that direct the workings of mechanisms ranging from cellular structures, bodies, the environment, the market to thought processes. The protocols simultaneously standardise and simplify the functioning of these mechanisms, but they also dehumanise them and render them rigid and inflexible. The exhibition addresses what it would mean to throw away chains of command – sweet protocols – and if such an emancipatory moment is even possible in our time. The FaceOrFactory platform examines the different strategies of formulating narratives and specific rhetorical patterns crucial in the creation of artistic NFT platforms, presenting a critical reading of contemporary NFT production, while also continuously analysing ironically their own (impossible) creative position in the context of a critique of the contemporary economic market. Tamara Lašič Jurković appropriates guided meditation in order to challenge the neoliberal ideology of positive thinking, which in today's times of crisis acts as a tool for pacifying the individual and concealing the need to rethink social inequalities and our relationship to nature. Dorijan Šiško continues his eclectic exploration of the aesthetics and medium of video games, considering alternative relationships between virtual and physical spaces and digital and material cultures, while his video game and spatial installation draws gallery visitors into a post-virtual vision of a parallel reality. Andrej Škufca creates a landscape where artworks and organic forms merge as the viewer navigates through a patchy, shifting terrain, with the installation referencing the specific narrative structures of video games and their often gradual unfolding of information.

U30+ is a production programme dedicated to supporting young artists, which has been implemented by Aksioma since 2013. It provides authors at the beginning of their creative journey with full support for the realisation of their art project, from the development of an idea to its realisation, as well as solo and group presentations. For more than a decade, Aksioma has been filling the gap that young artists face after leaving school and before entering the art world, while exploring new trends, themes, languages and formats in Slovenian contemporary art.

FaceOrFactory (2020–) is an artistic research platform that analyses the forms of presence and functions of the (in)human face in contemporary society, based on a personal archive of DNA samples and 3D models. The platform's projects have so far been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Kapelica Gallery, Aksioma, Center for Fine Arts BOZAR in Brussels, Kino Šiška, Meštrović Pavilion in Zagreb and elsewhere, and were part of the IMPAKT Full Spectrum Curatorship Programme and SAM's six-month artist residency in Singapore.

Tamara Lašič Jurković holds a MA in Industrial Design from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana (ALUO). Her work focuses on environmental and social issues of the 21st century and the role of design in addressing them. She works as an interdisciplinary designer, researcher and curator. Since 2020 she has been working with the design studio Ljudje, where she co-creates socially responsible campaigns, creative workshops and exhibitions. Since 2022 she has been teaching as an assistant at ALUO.

Dorijan Šiško is a graphic designer and multimedia artist whose practice also spans the fields of video games, animation, installation, theatre and VJ. He is a member of the collectives Freštreš and Nimaš izbire. His work has also been presented at the 34th Ljubljana Graphic Biennial - Iskra Delta and the International Festival KIBLIX 2020-2021: Virtual Worlds Now, for which he also designed the visual identity. Among others, he has exhibited at Aksioma Project Space, Osmoza, Kino Šiška, ACE KIBLA / KIBLA PORTAL, the Slovenian National Museum, the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art, Jakopič Gallery, and the Out to See Festival in New York.

Andrej Škufca is a contemporary artist working with objects of technologies. He has had solo exhibitions at Aksioma in Ljubljana, the International Center of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery in Zagreb, Karlin Studios and Center for Contemporary Art FUTURA in Prague, as well as at the DUM Project Space in Ljubljana. He has participated in group exhibitions at Het Niewe Institut in Rotterdam, National Museum of 21st Century Art MAXXI in Rome, Ludwig Museum in Budapest, Centre for Contemporary Art of Montenegro in Podgorica, Nitja Centre for Contemporary Art in Oslo, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova and Museum of Modern Art  in Ljubljana. He is also a co-editor of the magazine ŠUM.

Co-production: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art
Support: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia