Festival IZIS is an annual contemporary arts festival that has taken place at a variety of locations on the Slovenian coast since its inception in 2013. It was founded by a group of (mainly) locally-based artists, curators and producers, chief among them Marko Vivoda, Borut Jerman and Tibor Hrs Pandur, with the express aim is of using contemporary art practices to explore the intersections between art, culture, science and technology.
This places the festival firmly at the centre of a thriving national intermedia scene that also includes Delavski dom Trbovlje Cultural Centre (particularly the Speculum Artium Festival and Trbovlje, New Media Setting), Pixxelpoint International Festival of Contemporary Art Practices, Sonica International Festival of Transitory Art, Svetlobna Gverila, KID PiNA, and Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory. It has also become a key organisation within RUK, a network of art and cultural research centres based in Trbovlje and co-financed by the Slovenian Ministry of Culture and the European Regional Development Fund.
Concept and beginnings
The idea for the festival came about somewhat spontaneously among a group of friends on the steps of the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana in 2013, with the name being settled upon almost immediately by Tibor Hrs Pandur, who was part of the now-defunct I.D.I.O.T. literary group.
As most of the initiators were from the Istria region, Izola was seen as the most natural location for the festival, although they are also aware of the need to find a space for contemporary art away from the capital. The core team has remained more or less unchanged since the start, although there has been some expansion in the number of personnel and collaborators as the festival has grown in size. Another key early idea was to stage it in the quiet period between Christmas and New Year, which was indeed the case until the 7th edition, which was held in July and August 2019.
Although the first edition of the festival (2013) was staged over a single day only, mainly at Art kino Odeon Izola, an ongoing festival supporter, it did sketch out many of the areas of interest explored in later years: audio-visual installation (Andrej Koruza's Signals From The Limit), electronic music (Random Logic) and audio-visually-supported poetry readings by the I.D.I.O.T. group. Musicians subsequently involved in the festival include experimental pianist Tine Grgurevič (aka Bowrain), jesusonecstasy (sonic artist and explorer Mitja Cerkvenik), Irena Tomažin, and experimental hip-hopper .cunfa.
The festival expanded considerably for its 7th edition in 2018, fittingly titled Invasion, which referred to its occupation of the Monfort Exhibition Space, a former salt warehouse in Piran (the first time the festival had shifted its locus from Izola), and to the presence of a larger number of works, presented as a retrospective from a range of intermedia producers, most notably the Koper-based PiNA cultural NGO, which has maintained close links with IZIS since the beginning and is now responsible for producing the festival.
Fuck Off Illusion
The invasion was to have continued in 2020, the festival's 8th year, with an extensive programme planned to take place at Libertas, another former salt warehouse, this time in Koper. The Covid emergency of 2020 pared the programme to the bone, although there was considerable media interest in the one element that survived, Fuck Off Illusion, a project developed in situ by American conceptual artist Brad Downey as an ongoing response to the emergency. The exhibition also featured the remains of Downey's original wooden sculpture of Melania Trump, which had been damaged in an arson attack two months previously, along with the mould used to craft the replacement bronze statue.
Festival performances and works