This master’s thesis treats the Triennial of Contemporary (Slovene) Art – U3, a triennial exhibition established in 1994 by the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna galerija) in Ljubljana as a three-year overview of contemporary art production in Slovenia. Through a comparative review of the event’s first six editions and their impact, the thesis seeks to show the significance of U3 in Slovenia and abroad – its relation to the acceptance of contemporary art (and various contemporary art concepts) in the Slovene context and its role in the Museum of Modern Art’s strategies for solidifying its place in the international art system.
The thesis begins by outlining the policies of the Museum of Modern Art, particularly during the transition from the 1980s to the 1990s, and briefly explains why the U3 triennial was developed. The central section provides a detailed examination of each individual exhibition, beginning with a discussion of the curator (how the curatorial position and selection criteria were justified and verbalized), followed by an explanation of the exhibition concept, and ending with the interpretation and positioning of the exhibition in the broader art-historical context, including an analysis of its reception in Slovene and foreign media and art criticism. In the final section, the thesis highlights certain central considerations relating to the 25-year history of U3: the break between the first and second edition; the issue of the curator and, specifically, the practice of alternating Slovene and foreign curators; and the effort to make Slovene art part of the international system. The thesis concludes that, despite the change in paradigm from a nationally representative exhibition to a (more) international one, U3 has preserved its attachment to, and importance for, Slovene art; its primary role is to provide an overview. Through its triennial selection, U3 represents the (current) artistic production in this country and thus contributes to the historicisation and canonisation of Slovene art.