The Bežigrajska galerija (Bežigrad Gallery) with its 2 locations in the Bežigrad neighbourhood north of the Ljubljana city centre simply named Bežigrajska galerija 1 and Bežigrajska galerija 2, features smaller exhibitions by younger or established Slovene artists. The topical curated shows are usually rooted in the gallery’s rich collection of visual and concrete poetry. The Bežigrajska galerija also organises two traditional annual events – an exhibition on puppetry (From Sketch to Puppet) and the series of international experimental music concerts O•zvočenje, linked also to the gallery’s Images of Notations Collection. Since 2009, both venues are administered by the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana.
Founded in 1976, the Bežigrajska galerija at Dunajska cesta has been a branch of the City Art Gallery Ljubljana since 1996. In 2002, the gallery opened its second space nearby at Vodovodna ulica, the so-called Bežigrajska galerija 2. The space on Dunajska is since then known as Bežigrajska galerija 1. Since the City Art Gallery Ljubljana and the City Museum of Ljubljana merged into a new public institute in 2009, the Bežigrajska galerija 1 and 2 operate under the umbrella of the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana as its autonomous units.
Programme and exhibitions
In both its spaces, Bežigrajska galerija hosts approximately 12 exhibitions annually, some in cooperation with major museums and galleries in Slovenia and abroad. The exhibition programme can be roughly divided into 3 categories: solo exhibitions of younger artists in Bežigrajska galerija 1 (Vesna Čadež, Barbara Eva Zavodnik) or young established and well-known artists (Milan Golob, Peter Ciuha). Bežigrajska galerija 2, the larger of the two venues, offers solo exhibitions mostly to well-known Slovenian artists such as Jože Slak, Živko Marušič, and Dušan Kirbiš.
Multimedia exhibitions and events
The Bežigrajska galerija 2 has been introducing multimedia installations since the 1980s, including sound landscapes, contemporary and experimental music, video, and experimental film. The gallery stages also multimedia events, concerts and, since 2002, also the international experimental music festival O•zvočenje.
Bežigrajska galerija also presents an annual international video Festival Nature, based on images or elements found in nature. The 6th edition in 2009 presented 14 mostly young video artists. In 2008, the festival featured among others also the video A Listening Human by Miha Vipotnik, one of the 3 Slovene video art pioneers. Within this frame, the Bežigrajska galerija featured in 2005 a topical group exhibition of 11 Slovene established sculptors of different generations (Mirsad Begić, Jakov Brdar, Mojca Smerdu, Damijan Kracina, Primož Pugelj, and Urša Toman – Drinovec).
From Sketch to Puppet
Every year, Bežigrajska galerija 1 stages a traditional show titled From Sketch to Puppet. In 2009, Barbara Bulatović exhibited in both spaces a selection of her drawings, sketches, and puppets created mostly between 1997 and 2006, including works from the performance the Child and the World (Otrok in svet), bestowed with the Little Prince Award in 1998. In recent years the exhibition cycle included exhibitions of puppets from several Slovenian puppet theatres including Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, Maribor Puppet Theatre, and Zapik Theatre.
Visual and Concrete Poetry
The collection is based on the works collected by poet and mail-artist Franci Zagoričnik (1933–1997) over a period of 30 years and expands also to the international part and the works of other Slovenian visual and concrete poetry artists.
There is no permanent display, but over 15 survey exhibitions have been prepared in recent years. Some were also dedicated to the opuses of individual artists such as Matjaž Hanžek, Nejč Slapar, and Jaka Železnikar. In 2009, for example, the international group exhibition Poetry Posters addressed the obsoleteness of the poster medium since the age of digitalisation. It also featured the very first poetry posters created in Slovenia in the 1970s by Miha Avanzo (in cooperation with Zdravko Papič and Lidija Starc) or famous poetry posters published by the Mladina Magazine (1982–1984).
Images of Notations
The collection comprises the works of important Slovenian and foreign composers who have abandoned the traditional notation and invented their own systems of graphic notations, now understood as original works of fine art. It contains over 100 scores by 80 composers of experimental music including John Cage, Vinko Globokar, Charles Ives, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Iannis Xenakis. Works are executed in various techniques such as drawing, collage, mixed media on paper, etc. Included in the collection are also sound recordings of the compositions and concert videos.
As the collection cannot be permanently displayed, the gallery has prepared several thematic exhibitions in the last 15 years, showing the works also in other venues such as the Media Nox Gallery in Maribor.