Beti Žerovc
When Attitudes Become the Norm
The Contemporary Curator and Institutional Art

IZA Editions (in English)

When Attitudes Become the Norm, a collection of essays and interviews with established curators, artists and critics on the phenomenon of curatorship in contemporary art by art historian and theorist Beti Žerovc, has been reprinted due to great interest.

Žerovc examines curatorship in its broader social, political and economic contexts, as well as in relation to the profound changes that have taken place in the art field over the last century. She analyses the curator as a figure who appears, evolves, and participates in the institutionalisation of contemporary art and argues that with the curator institutional art – art designed to fit the art institution’s space and needs – achieves its fullest expression.

The first part of the book establishes the historical and contextual framework for understanding the phenomenon of curatorship and outlines the range of the contemporary art curator’s powers and activities. In later essays, Žerovc analyses the rapid global spread of curatorship, discusses politicised left-leaning contemporary art as a genre that has developed in explicit connection with curators and art institutions, and questions the possibilities of the social and political objectives attached to exhibitions and other curatorial projects. In the last part of the book, Žerovc investigates the character and ambiguities of the curator as an artist and the curated contemporary art exhibition as an artistic medium, as an event, and as a ritual. She draws comparisons between the contemporary role of art institutions as commissioners and producers of art and the similar role played in the past by the aristocracy and the Church and makes connections between contemporary art events and religious ritual. Her analysis thus seeks to counter the treatment of these aesthetic productions as autonomous creations and to foster a more critical view of the role art institutions play within the broader social system.

Detailed: Table of Contents & Introduction by Beti Žerovc
The afterword is by the American art theorist Mary Anne Staniszewski, who, among other things, is the author of one of the seminal analyses of the modern contemporary art institution, The Power of Display: A History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art (MIT, 1998).

Beti Žerovc is a Slovene art historian and art theorist. She teaches at the Department of Art History [photo: Nada Žgank] at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana. Her areas of research are visual art and the art system since the mid-nineteenth century with a focus on their role in society. In the past fifteen years her research has concentrated on the phenomena of the contemporary art curator, the contemporary art exhibition as a medium, and the changing role of art institutions.

Edited by Urška Jurman
Designed by Ivian Kan Mujezinovič / Ee
IZA Editions
Published by Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory (Ljubljana) & Archive Books (Berlin)
Supported by ERSTE Foundation


First reprint: 2018, Ljubljana and Berlin
ISBN 978-3-943620-39-9
Soft cover
276 pages
EUR 20

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IZA Editions

Extending the Dialogue

Essays by Igor Zabel Award Laureates, Grant Recipients, and Jury Members, 2008–2014

Contributors: Edit András, Fouad Asfour, Keti Chukhrov, Karel Císař, Ekaterina Degot, Maja Fowkes and Reuben Fowkes, Alenka Gregorič, Daniel Grúň, Sabine Hänsgen, Tímea Junghaus, Klara Kemp-Welch, Miklavž Komelj, Lev Kreft and Aldo Milohnić, Kirill Medvedev, Piotr Piotrowski, Jelena Vesić, Raluca Voinea, WHW /What, How & for Whom/

The authors come from twelve different countries and represent a range of disciplines and interests: they are art historians, philosophers, cultural theorists and activists, critics, curators, and poets, with most of them falling into two or three of these categories. All have made important contributions to contemporary art and cultural production, art history writing, and critical thought within, and sometimes far beyond, the region once known, problematically, as “Eastern Europe”.

And all of them are either laureates or grant recipients of the prestigious Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory, or have served on the award jury. Named in honour of the distinguished Slovene curator and art historian Igor Zabel (1958–2005), the award honours the exceptional cultural achievements of those dedicated to deepening and broadening our knowledge of visual art and culture in Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe.

The book thus offers a collection of urgencies and agencies in art history, art writing, and art and cultural production from across this cultural and political geography. It is a survey of the pressing issues that stimulate these authors’ scholarly, curatorial, and cultural investments and so provides a referential, if fragmented and incomplete, picture of current conditions of art and culture in the region.

Given the authors’ diverse backgrounds, their writings express a variety of concerns and approaches, although certain groupings are apparent. The first of these groupings addresses issues in art history and theory from a geo-political perspective; the question of the centre–periphery relationship in writing about Central and Eastern European art is further enriched by perspectives from other “peripheries”, with feminist, post-colonial, and minority positions coming into play as the matrix of power in art writing, art history, and art education is critically examined. The second (and largest) grouping of writings discusses specific art phenomena, from the 1960s to the present. Several authors apply comparative and horizontal art-historical methods to reposition Eastern European art within the global context. Among the important topics represented here are environmental concerns and – since many of the artworks under discussion were developed as ephemeral works – the artistic and performative potential of documentation and archives. Other authors, meanwhile, reflect on the conditions of contemporary cultural production and the role of cultural institutions in the region. The last grouping deals with the intersection of politics and art, specifically with the region’s (utopian) legacy of revolution, socialism, and communism.

In 2008, when the first Igor Zabel Award was presented, the Igor Zabel Association and the ERSTE Foundation co-published the book, Continuing Dialogues: A Tribute to Igor Zabel. The present book is titled Extending the Dialogue not only because, in some senses, it is a follow-up to that first publication, but also because these texts examine issues and offer views that go far beyond local and regional concerns.

See table of contents!
Editors: Urška Jurman, Christiane Erharter, and Rawley Grau
Designed by Ivian Kan Mujezinovič / Ee
Published by Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory (Ljubljana), Archive Books (Berlin), and ERSTE Foundation (Vienna)
IZA Editions: publications series by the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory (Ljubljana) and Archive Books (Berlin)


December 2016, Ljubljana, Berlin, Vienna
ISBN 978-3-943620-52-8
Soft cover
Images, colour
416 pages
EUR 25

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Igor Zabel: Ah, Art
Travel notes


The notebooks and planners in Igor Zabel’s heritage contain diary entries hidden among his schedules, lecture outlines, interview cues, directories, etc. Igor Zabel kept a journal on his business trips; and he travelled a lot, he visited a large part of the world from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv and Moscow. And also all of Europe, of course. Here, journal is meant in the literal sense of a chronological record of daily events. He described exhibitions, the ideas they generated, his encounters with collectors and artists, and also glimpses of everyday life. He wrote at airports, on trains, in hotels, etc. The journals are written realistically, in Igor’s precise style, and are precious testimonies about the art scene, people, exhibitions and life.

Edited by Zoja Skušek
Published by Založba /* cf. publishing house
Co-published with the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory



December 2014, Ljubljana
ISBN: 978-961-257-064-4
Soft cover
Images 11 b&w
174 pages
EUR 20

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Igor Zabel: Contemporary Art Theory

Edition of a collection of Igor Zabel's texts in English


This book brings for the first time a comprehensive selection of Igor Zabel’s writings in the English language. This important translation brings forward Zabel’s extraordinary analytical and emphatic thinking and writing on modern and contemporary art from Socialist Realism and Conceptual Art to Post-Modernism and Contextual Art, particularly in Slovenia and Eastern Europe. 


Focusing on the complex East-West relations within the international art system, this publication brings forth a critical reflection on the position of art linked to deep changes society underwent following the fall of the Berlin Wall. It also traces contemporary culture to avant-garde practices and provides insight into Zabel’s curatorial strategies. Structured like a portrait of the art scene in Slovenia and Eastern Europe over the last few decades, the book raises issues of identity by confronting this specific geopolitical context with emerging global paradigms and serves as a methodology model for research into Eastern European art practices.


The book is divided into four chapters: East, West and Between (dialogue and perception of the Other in the context of the complex relations established after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989), Strategies and Spaces of Art (strategies of representation and theories of display, the role of the curator and the new understanding of the white cube), Ad Personam (individual artists and thematic phenomena) and Extras (selected columns on arts and culture). The volume is introduced by Igor Španjol, its editor.


Edited by Igor Španjol

Selection of texts by Zoja Skušek and Barbara Borčić


Published by JRP Ringier

Co-published with Les presses du réel, Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, ERSTE Foundation, and Moderna galerija, Ljubljana

The book is part of the “Documents” series, which is dedicated to critical writings.




November 2012, Zurich

ISBN: 978-3-03764-238-2 (JRP Ringier)
ISBN: 978-2-84066-573-1 (Les presses du réel)

Soft cover, 150 x 210 mm

Images 20 b&w

302 pages

EUR 20 / CHF 30 / £ 15 / US 29.95


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Continuing Dialogues
A Tribute to Igor Zabel


The aim of this book is to reflect upon the theories and approach pursued by Igor Zabel in his critical writings, curatorial practices and European exchange initiatives following the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a senior curator at the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana he was deeply engaged in reflecting and establishing links between “East” and “West” European art without loosing a critical perspective on the ongoing transformations. In this book it becomes clear that, despite his perception of all the apparently unbridgeable differences involved, continuing dialogues played a fundamental role in his practice as both theorist and a curator.


An introductory roundtable session focuses on the historical and local setting which formed the background for Igor Zabel’s engagement for an art historical as well as theoretical grounding of Slovenian art and for the internationalization of this scene. Participants were Zdenka Badovinac, Vadim Fishkin, Dušan Mandić, Bojana Piškur, Igor Španjol and Herwig G. Höller.


Further texts by Zdenka Badovinac, Francesco Bonami, Eda Čufer, Ješa Denegri, Charles Esche, Viktor Misiano, Kathrin Rhomberg and Maria Havajova, colleagues of Zabel’s, shed light on the various cultural aspects of his activity as a critical thinker, curator and writer. A closing chapter contains contributions by Zoran Erić, Suzana Milevska, Renata Salecl and Georg Schöllhammer, who attempt to demonstrate the continuing relevance of Igor Zabel’s (art-)political reflections by taking stock of the current cultural and political forms of dialogue in Europe.


Contributing artists include: AA Bronson, Art & Language, Jože Barši, Johanna Billing, Josef Dabernig, IRWIN, Valery Koshlyakov, Luisa Lambri, Yuri Leiderman, Deimantas Narkevičius, Roman Ondák, Tadej Pogačar, Marko Pogačnik, Marjetica Potrč, Florian Pumhösl and Mladen Stilinović.


Edited by Christa Benzer, Christine Böhler, Christiane Erharter

Published by JRP Ringier

Co-published with ERSTE Foundation and the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory




November 2008, Zurich

ISBN: 978-3-905829-91-4

Softcover, 190 x 250 mm

Images 19 color / 7 b&w

216 pages

CHF 30 / EUR 19 / £ 13 / US 28


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