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Speech by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia Vasko Simoniti at the opening of the exhibition in the European Parliament

The Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia Vasko Simoniti opened an exhibition of contemporary Slovenian fine art, titled "We are living in exciting times" in the European Parliament in Brussels. The Slovene curator of the exhibition Marko Košan has prepared a selection of works by thirteen Slovene artists who, in the midst of a modern flood of visual images propagated through mass media, are looking for new ways of painting, sculptural and photographic expression aimed at new utopias. In addition to the Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti the attendees were also addressed by Chair of the Artistic Committee of the European Parliament, Prof. Karol Karski.

Speech by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia Vasko Simoniti

The exhibition of contemporary Slovenian visual artworks in the European Parliament is a great honour for Slovenia. We are especially proud of this event because Slovenia is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence while holding its second Presidency of the Council of the European Union – the family of free democracies.

Europe, which is well aware of its identity, history and traditions, is facing new challenges and reflections on its own future. After great trials, ups and downs, in the second half of the last century it managed to form binding common values and ensure freedom at all levels of human existence, which gives creativity a free rein. This ensures its existence today and tomorrow. This environment is home to a diversity of expressions, as each community shapes its own spiritual and material image through its idiom. Just as each family, each institution, and each profession has its own specific manner of expression, the language of art in all its manifestations has its own particular forms of expression as well.

Of all the genres of contemporary art, it is precisely in the visual arts that we can find extraordinary diversity and an exceptional coexistence of forms, which is less characteristic of other arts. What I have in mind is not only the completely congenial coexistence of abstract painting and figurative art, but also the coexistence of conceptual art, performance, installation, socially committed art, biological interventions, and so on, not to mention the diversity witnessed in the works of the younger generations, including, for instance, internet art. The visual arts embrace extraordinary pluralism. In the last half century, the visual arts have seemed to resemble the mythological Proteus, the Homeric sea deity, who constantly changes forms and reveals his wisdom only if we hold him in a firm embrace, even as he turns into a tree, a bull, fire, water, and a serpent. Perhaps it is precisely the visual arts with their extraordinary diversity that form a kind of living democratic laboratory, constantly creating a plurality of expressions and ideas.

This exhibition of contemporary Slovenian artists again challenges us to reflect on the nature of art and the messages it conveys. The exhibited works thus encourage us to preserve the two virtues of a democratic society: tolerance of differences and empathy for others. We might even dare to say that the visual arts are a real test of the openness of modern democratic society. So, long live the visual arts in all their diversity; it is up to artists to find deeper messages through infinite freedom of expression, to discover not only forms but also content, whether the latter dwells in the artist’s lyrical world or in his or her social engagement.

The exhibition "We Are Living in Interesting Times", which shows the works of artists of the middle and younger generations, addresses with and in its own language all those in the European Parliament who do not speak this language but carry it within themselves as a seed of personal freedom and spiritual breadth.

The exhibition, which was created in cooperation with the The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška as part of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will be on display in the European Parliamet and also on the website of the Ministry of Culture until the end of this year.