Power Structures

In 2009, the Slovenian state gave the Libyan president Muammar al-Gaddafi a Lipizzan racehorse. The breed dates back to the 16th century and is famous thanks to its links to the prestigious Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria. During the reign of the Habsburg monarchy, the animals were bred at a stud farm in what is now Slovenia, but their denomination was a source of dispute between Slovenia and Austria until UNESCO officially registered the breed as arising from “intangible” cultural heritage.

A photograph of Gaddafi’s horse – from The Foundation of Endeavour (2020) – appears in this solo exhibition of Jasmina Cibic (b. 1979), originally shown in Museum of Contemporary Art Ljubljana. Cibic, who, herself, was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, creates artworks that probe how nations have wielded “soft power” through cultural diplomacy. The artist’s practice spans many media but is crucially grounded in research, uncovering historical examples which feed into theatrical artistic experiences.

Also on display is Cibic’s 2021 Film London Jarman Award-winning film The Gift (2019-2021), derived from a wider body of work which untangles the threads of reciprocity and obligation woven into the exchange of presents between governments. Meanwhile, a new installation, Most Favoured Nation, incorporates words from past speeches made by global leaders. Power takes many shapes. It can barge its way into view violently like an invading army or it can use charm to slip through unnoticed. Cibic recently commented in Studio International: “I’m drawn towards the political psychology and unconsciousness of states.”

Museum der Moderne Salzburg | Until 12 June


Image Credits:
1. Nada – Act II, 2017, single-channel HD video, stereo, 13:02 min., film still. © Jasmina Cibic 2017.
2. Jasmina Cibic, Founding Fathers (Rosa Helmut Kohl), 2020, chromogenic print, © Jasmina Cibic 2020
3. Jasmina Cibic, Nada – Act III: The Exhibition, 2018, single channel projection, high definition video (color, stereo sound), 16:21 min., production still, © Jasmina Cibic 2021, photo: Pete Moss.
4. Jasmina Cibic, Tear Down and Rebuild, 2015, single channel HD video (stereo sound), 15:28 min, production still, © Jasmina Cibic 2021, photo: Ivan Petrović