Igor Zabel (1958–2005, Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Igor Zabel was during his entire life actively involved in many fields of theory and culture – as an author, essayist, modern and contemporary art curator, literary and art critic, translator, and mentor for new generations of curators and critics of contemporary art. In his theorethical and curatorial work, he tirelessly called for the profound exploration of those political, social and cultural undercurrents that had the potential to give us a better understanding of the modern and contemporary art.

 

Igor Zabel graduated in comparative literature, art history and philosophy from the University of Ljubljana in 1982. After graduation he worked for two years as assistant lecturer at the Department for Comparative Literature of the Faculty of Arts. In 1989, he received his MA from the same university. Between 1984 and 1986, he worked as a freelance writer. Starting in 1986, Igor Zabel worked as curator at the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art, where he gained the title of senior curator and prepared a number of anthology exhibitions of Slovenian art, solo as well as thematic exhibitions: Aspects of the Minimal. Minimal Art in Slovenia 1968–1980, 1990; OHO–A Retrospective, 1994; Inexplicable Presence. The Curator’s Place of Work, 1997; Tank! Slovene Historical Avant-Garde, 1998 (co-curator); 2000+ Arteast Collection, 2000 (co-curator); 2004; Seven Sins: Ljubljana – Moscow, 2004 (co-curator); an exhibition trilogy Slovene Art 1975–2005, 2003–05 (co-curator).

 

His curatorial work outside Slovenia includes distinguished exhibition Individual Systems at the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003 and, among others, 33rd Zagreb Salon at the Museum and Gallery Centre Zagreb, 1998; Aspects/Positions, Museum moderner Kunst – Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, 1999 (member of the curatorial team); The Future Is Not What It Used To Be, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, 2004 (co-curator).

 

Zabel was coordinator of Manifesta 3, European Biennial of Contemporary Art, in Ljubljana in 2000 and a member of the International Board of Manifesta. He was co-editor of the first six issues of the MJ – Manifesta Journal: Journal of Contemporary Curatorship (with Viktor Misiano) and for several years editor of the magazine of Moderna galerija Ljubljana M’ars.

 

Igor Zabel is the author of two books of essays on contemporary art and a number of essays and articles published in Slovenian and international anthologies, collected editions, catalogues and magazines (including Art Journal, Art Press, Flash Art, Index, Moscow Art Magazine, and others). He wrote short stories and translated (into and from the Slovene language) numerous texts and books (by Edward W. Said, Oscar Wilde, Amartya Kumar Sen, Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein) from the field of humanities and literature.

 

For several years, he engaged in passing on his broad knowledge and experiences in writing and curating contemporary art to younger generations in the World of Art – Curatorial Course for Contemporary Art in Ljubljana.