STA, 22 January 2021 - Slovenian Ambassador to Italy Tomaž Kunstelj and the foreign and culture ministries are opposed to the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art's involvement in an exhibition showcasing the imagery of heroism in the former Yugoslavia at the MAXXI museum in Rome, the left-wing magazine Mladina reports in the latest edition.
The ambassador finds the exhibition scandalous, in particular considering that Slovenia is observing the 30th anniversary of independence from Yugoslavia this year.
In a dispatch to the Foreign Ministry on 12 January, part of which is published by Mladina, Kunstelj says the main reason for his opposition is that the project is linked to the theme of the former Yugoslavia and does not showcase achievements of Slovenian arts.
In the dispatch he says the embassy "will not promote or organise exhibitions from Slovenia on the topic of ex-Yugoslavia, in particular not during the 30th anniversary period".
The Foreign Ministry told the STA they agree with the ambassador that the "exhibition cannot be part of cultural and promotional programme to observe the round anniversary of statehood or the programme of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU".
The Culture Ministry said the ambassador did not demand for the exhibition to be "banned, he only expressed his opinion that it is not suitable to be included in the project to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence or the Slovenian presidency of the EU".
It added that the exhibition "unfortunately does not pursue such goals and values of international promotion of Slovenian culture and arts globally" as to be included in the programme of two international projects of such importance.
According to Mladina, MAXXI - National Museum of XXI Century Arts decided to put on the show as part of the years-long running presentation of contemporary arts in the broader Mediterranean region.
The show Bigger than Myself. Voices of Heroes from Ex-Yugoslavia will showcase contemporary arts from the region of the former Yugoslavia with heroism as the recurring theme.
The Rome museum invited Zdenka Badovinac, the former director of the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art, to edit the show. It involves more than 50 artists from countries of the former Yugoslavia, including more than ten directly linked with Slovenia.
The show was to be put on as early as 2018, but the opening has been postponed several times due to organisational problems and the coronavirus pandemic. It was to be on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ljubljana from October to December.
The museum told the STA today it had not been informed of the ambassador's opposition to the show. "We have learnt about the ambassador's letter from Mladina, which is unacceptable as the Embassy and or the Culture Ministry should check facts with us as well."
Badovinac told Mladina that the exhibition was fully financed by the Italian museum. She believes the ambassador's letter suggests his "not being informed of the facts and his judging the exhibition based on national criteria, which is unacceptable in the modern world".
The opposition Left protested against the ambassador's dispatch in a press release today, saying the government was interfering not only in the programme of the Ljubljana museum but also in that of MAXXI, an internationally acclaimed private museum.