Maska, časopis za scenske umetnosti

Post-alternative in Slovenia 1993-2013

Maska, a performing arts journal, has its roots in the early 1920s. It was established and created by liberal actors and directors who understood the journal as a space of change and reformation of the theatre. Maska, which was first issued in 1920 and 1921, was closely connected with the broader space of the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Today’s Maska is a direct descendant of the magazine with the plural name Maske (1985–1991) and was first published in November 1991, then still under the auspices of the Association of Slovenian Cultural Organisations. In 1991, the editors of Maske, Tone Peršak and Peter Božič, handed over the journal to the new generation of critics, dramaturges, philosophers, sociologists and artists, who decisively and decidedly renewed its concept with Maja Breznik and Irena Štaudohar at the lead. In the programmatic editorial of the first issue, the young board pointed out three conceptual postulates that still apply to Maska today.
— reflection on theatre must synthesise all fields of art,
— constant efforts are needed to establish theoretical language that could problematise the broad range of the theatre idiom,
— it is essential to combine theory and practice that legitimise each other because only then can the journal provide a live recording of consciousness. 

Legislative changes in 1993 in the then still very young country of Slovenia offered Maska, as our only performing arts journal, a formal framework for institutionalisation and independence. A similar “legalisation” was then experienced by a range of relatively young and extremely powerful experimental, dance, visual performing practices also associated with the term “alternative”. The year 1993 marked the beginning of the new era for the alternative of Slovenia. Back then, it was still marked by optimism. 

From today’s perspective, we can also see that throughout the history of the city of Ljubljana, and maybe the state of Slovenia, too, one could hardly find a more wasted cultural and artistic opportunity than the so-called alternative of the 1980s and early 1990s. The cultural policies of creativity of many independent organisations and individuals have not been able, since 1993, to do much more than help them keep and maintain a marginal status. It is quite clear today that 1993 denotes a perfidious break for the “independent” creative field of Ljubljana and Slovenia and that such breaks were experienced by “independent” or “alternative” contexts elsewhere in the world: the concept of production has gradually taken the place of creativity, displaced and replaced it; the statuses of self-employed precarious workers in culture maintain the illusion of employment; excessive workloads of precarious workers consume all their time; the space previously occupied by performances has been taken over by festivals, and festivalisation gives art projects a mark of cultural industry; non-profit production organisations, institutes and associations are offered the false impression of being institutional structures; the public dialogue and subsidies maintain their marginality; and we could go on and on. Today’s post-alternative is a medical condition. 

At this point Maska, which today as an institute for publishing, cultural and production activities commemorates along with many other non-governmental organisations the 20th anniversary of its establishment, no longer finds its key importance in the affirmation of recent art practices through their recording and global and historical contextualisation, but focuses on the problematisation of structural and political issues posed by and in contemporary art and theory. The questioning of one’s own position has become an ethical imperative of the art of the 21st century.

Amelia Kraigher
Translated by Polona Glavan


Amelia Kraigher: Uvodnik 

Love and Sovereignity 

Lidija Radojević: Changing the Mode of Production in the Field of Culture 

Stefan Hölscher: What is the Meaning of Potential Today? 

Postalternative in Slovenia 1993–2013 

Jure Novak: VWe All Know! 

Rotten Ramparts: Interview with Simon Kardum 

A Brutal Routine: Interview with Janez Janša 

A Fragile Fate: Interview with Iztok Kovač 

Post festum 

Rok Vevar: GILŠ - KODUM (1991–1999) alongside Bauhaus and Black Mountain College 

Anti-representation in Contemporary Theatre: Case Studies 

Bojan Anđelković: THEATRE – POWER – SUBJECT 

Zala Dobovšek: Walking as Choreography and the City as Scenography 

Kalina Stefanova: Legionnaires, or The Post-Dramatic, Political Theatre, Latvian Style, Goes On 

Matej T. Vatovec: Nota Bene. Anti-representation Enters the Theatre