The city of Ljubljana celebrates a decade as a member of the ICORN network with an exhibition held at Gallery Kresija from the 16th of November to the 12th of December 2021.The exhibition titled “It is impossible to return to an impossible land” features the work of artists Jošt Franko and Jernej Žumer as they give their artistic interpretation of the stories of five ICORN residents the city has hosted: Zineb El Rhazoui, Girma Fantaye, Sameer Sayegh, Shiva Nazar Ahari, and most recently, Souzan Ali.
Since 2011 when it joined ICORN, Ljubljana has been proactive in its efforts to give refuge to persecuted writers from around the world and to help them create a new social and creative network in their host city. In May 2014, it hosted the ICORN General Assembly and welcomed the other member cities, their numerous writer and artist residents, and the many other partners to the network. Already the home of a vibrant literary hub, the city was named in 2010 the UNESCO’s World Book Capital. The recognition is fitting of the city’s literary community that boasts of numerous publishing houses, a vibrant poetry scene and counts among its numbers prominent names in world literature like philosopher Slavoj Žižek, poet Tomaž Šalamun, novelists Drago Jančar and Brina Svit.
The importance of cultural life in Ljubljana, both past and present, is reflected in this new exhibition which was the result of online and in-person meetings of the featured artists with the ICORN residents between June and September 2021. Through a variety of visual practices, both artists reflect on the physical spaces that have welcomed these residents, like the city’s many cafes, but also the challenging experiences they have faced as they processed leaving their homes, facing censorship, and the alienation of a new environment. Žumer’s illustrations reveal tiny details from before and during the residents’ stay in Ljubljana, while Franko’s photographs speak of Ljubljana at the time when most of the ICORN residents had already left. Žumer’s visual comments combine drawing and writing to build a fragmented visual narrative, complemented in the display by written accounts of the residents.
The exhibition highlights the crucial role that organisations play locally and globally - connected through the ICORN network and the infinite connections it facilitates - in supporting threatened voices and promoting free expression in all of its creative and courageous embodiments.
You can find more information on the exhibition that will be held from 16 November-12 December in Gallery Kresija’s Facebook page. The gallery is located in Stritarjeva ulica 6, 1000 Ljubljana.
To read more about the city of Ljubljana, their partnership with ICORN, and their past and current residents, please visit this page.