KIBLA Portal is a multifunctional exhibition and event venue for contemporary artistic practices, stationed in the city of Maribor. It presents a variety of media, from computer and intermedia arts to paintings and sculptures, and is sometimes also used for electronic music performances, conferences and the like. It operates as a dislocated premise of the KIBLA Multimedia Centre (MMC KIBLA), an institution that works at the confluences of research, culture, technology, arts, and sciences.
Though MMC KIBLA also operates the similar gallery venue KiBela Art Space, the KIBLA Portal is very special in its basic – spatial – feature. It is very big. It covers a space of about 2000 square meters and as such both enables and demands specific types of projects.
The venue is located at the premises of the Maribor textile factory MTT, which was closed in the 1990s and remained unused until its current transformation. Its vast grounds were revitalised as KIBLA Portal when Maribor was the European Capital of Culture 2012, the venue opened in November 2012 with Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious – an international art exhibition with a conference, workshops, and lectures.
The KIBLA Portal has displayed a very diverse set of works, ideas, and performances. Most of its exhibition projects have a distinctively international character and an interdisciplinary approach.
For example, the aforementioned Soft Control was a wide-ranging event that dealt with the discourses and contexts of technology, arts, and contemporary techno-culture. The display titled Materiality in the Portal presented its topic – the concept of materiality – through a diverse set of works that featured side by side the established canon of Slovenian and international art as well as the works of young and promising authors – and also some almost forgotten and overlooked artists. Another international exhibition dealt with World War I and was called Memory of Violence – Dreams of the Future 1914 –18.
In collaboration with the Faculty of Arts, University of Maribor, a group of students were invited – together with some already established artists – to use the medium of drawing and present new works made especially for the exhibition and developed for this specific venue.
Invited artists and curators
Some of the curators involved in the KIBLA Portal have been Dmitry Bulatov, Sanja Kojić Mladenov, Petra Varl, Žiga Dobnikar, and Aleksandra Kostič. The latter is among other things also the director of KIBLA Multimedia Centre.
As the Portal’s concept and its capacities dictate for it to feature numerous works, one would be hard pressed to come up with a representative list of artists. Yet, some of the authors from abroad whose works have been featured here are Marina Abramović (RS/US), Stelarc (AU), Suzanne Dikker (NL), Matthias Oostrik (NL), Jimmy Loizeau (UK), Brandon Ballengee (US), Paul Smith (UK), David Bowen (US), Andrew Gracie (UK/ES), Kuda begut sobaki (RU), Bill Vorn (CA), Lana Čmajčanin (BiH), Boris Pramatarov (BG), Marcel Mališ (SK), Bogdan Girbovan (RO), Anca Benera (RO), Arnold Estefan (RO), Visualizing Palestine (LB), Vessna Perunovich (RS-CA), Magali Sanheira (FR), Gábor Fülöp (HU), Libuše Jarcovjáková (CZ), Max Sudhues (DE), Magda Tothova (SK), Chto Delat (RU), María Elínardóttir (IS), Oliver Pietsch (DE), and Goran Tomčić (HR/US).
Of the artists from Slovenia, a very incomplete list would include Nataša Berk, Maja Hodošček, Nika Autor, Mark Požlep, Ervin Potočnik, Borut Peterlin, Mojca Oblak, Mina Fina, Laibach, Marko Jakše, Mitja Ficko, Tadej Vindiš, Damijan Kracina, Vlado Repnik, and Matija Bobičić.
Festivals and other events at KIBLA Portal
Since 2013, the Maribor Electronic Destination International Festival (MED) takes place at Portal, as does the KIBLIX Festival. In 2013 and 2015, respectively, the KIBLIX Festival merged its efforts with the International Festival of Computer Arts (IFCA) and staged a joint festival venture.
KIBLIX has, among many others, brought here works and performances by Angelo Vermeulen, Elisabeth Schimana, William Myers, Ghislaine Boddington, Servando Barreiro, Electric Indigo, and Random Logic. Some of the musicians presented at MED have included Andy Stott, Cut Hands, Wolf Müller, and Dodecahedragraph.
Soft Control has probably been the most internationally elaborate project to date. Some of the participating institutions were Ars Electronica, Impakt (NL), MediaArtLab (RU), National Centre for Contemporary Arts – Kaliningrad Branch (RU), Prometheus (RU), Experiments in Art and Technology – E.A.T., Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto (PT), Centre for new media culture RIXC (LV), International Centre for Art and New Technologies CIANT (CZ), Hangar, Centre for research and production for the visual arts (ES), Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka (HR), Dom omladine Beograd (RS), O3ONE (RS), and others. Among others, Slovenian partnerships included the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Maribor and the Scientific Research Centre (ZRC SAZU), Slovene Academy of Science and Arts.
Some other partners in Portal’s exhibitions have included the WYSPA Institute of Art (PL), VESSEL (IT), Instituto Polytechnico de Tomar (PT), The French Institute in Serbia and the Goethe-Institute in Belgrade and the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina (RS).