When the group Rrose Irwin Sélavy was founded in Yugoslavia in 1983, its members Dušan Mandič (1954, Ljubljana), Miran Mohar (1958, Novo Mesto), Andrej Savski (1961, Ljubljana), Roman Uranjek (1961, Trbovlje, †2022, Ljubljana) and Borut Vogelnik (*1959, Kranj) were aged between 22 and 29. They all came from the punk and graffiti scene of Ljubljana. Together with the music group Laibach, the theater of the sisters Scipio Nasicas, and the designers from Neuer Kollektivismus (New Collectivism), IRWIN is still one of the main groups of the artists’ collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (New Slovenian Art), founded in 1984.
This volume is published to mark the 40th anniversary of the artists’ collective and to accompany the exhibition at HMKV Dortmund. Since 1983, IRWIN has been investigating the art history of Eastern Europe, especially the ambivalent legacy of the historical avant-garde and its totalitarian successors, i.e. the dialectic of avant-garde and totalitarianism. Since the 1990s, the focus of the group has been on challenging the art history of “Western Modernism” in a critical and iconoclastic way. The artists playfully and darkly contrast it with the “retro avant-garde” and an “Eastern Modernism”.
The book, which can be read from both sides, is made up of two parts: the first chapter explores the black humor that is a consistent element in IRWIN’s work. The second chapter examines issues relating to the state – and how IRWIN uses them to comment on current topics such as migration.