Dežela skrbnikov: balada o Piranu (The Land of Caretakers: A Ballad of Piran)
, 2022, reproduction n. 2 from the series of 10 drawings, ink on paper, 21,0 x 29,7cm

Courtesy: Marjetica Potrč & Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin/Stockholm/Mexico City

Photo: © Jaka Jeraša, Obalne Galerije Piran

WATER AND LAND: Marjetica Potrč | 
Solo ehibition | Curated by: Mara Ambrožič Verderber & Matic Bukovac | 
Piran City Gallery |
17. 12. 2022 – 5.03.2023 |
Opening: Saturday, 17.12.2022, at 18.00

In the Piran Coastal Galleries, we are celebrating the closure of the annual museum program with a large solo show of the world-famous Slovenian artist MARJETICA POTRČ. The ceremonial opening of the exhibition WATER AND LAND will be held at the Piran City Gallery of Piran on Saturday, 17 December 2022 at 6 pm. A press conference will be organized for journalists and the media the day before, on Friday, December 16, 2022 at 11 a.m. It will be attended by the artist, curators and collaborators which were participating in the design of her multidisciplinary project over the past year.

Marjetica Potrč develops her artistic expression at the intersection of visual art, architecture, ecology and anthropology. In her work, she emphasizes the importance of empowering individuals and communities through the use of problem-solving tools and strategies in our everyday life and for the future.

The WATER AND LAND project includes three visual essays and diagrams in which the artist draws attention to humanity’s coexistence with nature and the need for mutual cooperation. Two visual essays and diagrams, created in 2022 for the Biennale of Sydney, address the rights of two waterways, the Soča River in Slovenia and the Lachlan River in Australia. The third visual essay, The Land of Caretakers: A Ballad of Piran, consisting of ten small-format drawings, is linked to an eleventh large-format drawing, or diagram, entitled The Land of Guardians. Both pieces refer to the current challenges faced by Piran and its Istrian hinterland. Dedicated to the specific concerns of the region, this work was created over several months of research, through conversations with the inhabitants of Piran. Serving as a point of intersection, The Land of Guardians, which has been transferred onto the central wall of the gallery space in the form of a monumental mural, pays homage to Slovenia’s coastal region and its inhabitants.

Among other things, the exhibition draws attention to the understanding of water as a legal person that must be respected. In place of the usual perspective of natural resources as something to be exploited, Potrč’s work offers reflections on the importance of protecting and carefully managing our most basic resources: land and water.

Marjetica Potrč lives and works in Ljubljana. Her work was presented at numerous exhibitions in Europe, Asia, the United States of America and Latin America, and was included in the most important manifestations of contemporary art, such as the Venice Biennale, where she exhibited her works in 1993, 2003, 2009 and 2021. She also exhibited in many prominent institutions around the world, such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Barbican Gallery in London, Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, NTU- Center for Contemporary Art in Singapore and MAXXI- National Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome.

From 2011 to 2018, she was a professor of Participatory Design at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts (HfBK), where she led the Design for the Living World class. She received numerous awards, including the Hugo Boss Prize 2000, awarded for achievements in contemporary art by the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and a Vera List Center for Art and Politics fellowship at the private research-oriented university The New School in New York (2007).

The project has been produced by the Piran Coastal Galleries and was created with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Piran, in cooperation with Galerie Nordenhake from Berlin.

The rich public program and public workshops has been deployed in collaboration and with the kind support of many civil stakeholders, local associations and students, among others: the Local Community of Piran; Abakkum, Institute for Landscape, Culture and Art Piran; University of Primorska (PEF VUO); SWANK, Lucija; Faros Association, University of the Third Age of Life PiranMore info on this link…



The connecting element of the visual essay The Land of Caretakers: A Ballad of Piran is the transformation of the city through the four seasons. This story is intertwined with reflections on the challenges facing the municipality of Piran as it deals with major environmental problems, such as flooding in the city during heavy downpours and high tides and in the agricultural areas of the former family salt fields in the Sečovlje Salt Pans. Multifaceted and colourful, the essay tells us that the existing circumstances can be resolved only by making a new agreement with the land. The earth is a living being that we must respect and protect as caretakers, and this must be recognized in our laws, for we hold it in common with nature. A unique contribution comes from the artist’s many conversations with people in the coastal towns, which enriched her understanding of crucial local issues and helped her to raise collective issues about the necessity of preserving Istria’s natural resources through the shared will and constructive cooperation of the stakeholders in the common space. It is becoming increasingly clear that neither the state nor the market economy is able to adequately address the problem of preserving our common natural resources; to succeed, we must protect the earth together. For this reason, Marjetica Potrč has incorporated into her visual essay rules for managing land held in common, which summarize the fundamental findings about collective action for which the American political economist Elinor Ostrom was awarded the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

The Rights of a River and The Life of the Lachlan River are the two other visual essays presented in the Piran City Gallery, created for the prestigious international Biennale of Sydney in the spring of 2022. The first visual essay, The Rights of a River, was inspired by the success of the 2021 referendum that rejected proposed changes to the Waters Act. In this way, the people of Slovenia overturned a law that would have allowed private capital to exploit the country’s protected water resources. The second visual essay concerns the Lachlan River, which flows through the land of the Wiradjuri people in central New South Wales, Australia. It was created in collaboration with Ray Woods, a Wiradjuri elder. As custodians of the Lachlan River, the Wiradjuri people are fighting to prevent the enlargement of the Wyangala Dam, which would take water from the lower reaches of the Lachlan River.

These works speak of the interdependence between human beings and nature and highlight a new understanding of natural resources, one that strengthens the concept of the “personhood of the environment”. From this perspective, nature is presented as a (legal) subject with certain rights, and not as an object that can be unjustly exploited. This also changes how we understand our role towards nature: we become its caretakers and guardians. When nature – or a part of nature, such as a river – acquires legal status as a person, a process begins that is very similar to the recognition of the civil and political rights of less privileged social groups.



Štorta Path Walk / Workshop in public space
In the frame of the exhibition Water and Land, in collaboration with landscape architect Romana Kačič (Abakkum, Institute for Landscape, Culture and Art Piran) and the Piran Local Community, four workshops, entitled Štorta Path Walk, will be organized with the aim to restore or improve the accessibility and passability of traditional footpaths in Piran. Students of the University of Primorska (Faculty of Pedagogy, Visual Arts and Design program) will also join the workshops under the mentorship of Prof. Boštjan Bugarič and Prof. Polonca Lovšin. The Štorta Path workshops will take place along the Matteoti and Oljčna footpaths in between Piran gardens and olive groves. In addition, one of the aims is also to create a Manual for the Co-Management of the Paths in Between the Piran Gardens, which will be created in cooperation between PCG, the local citizens of Piran and the city administration. More about the workshops…

Nature and living environment – intergenerational activities
In addition to the workshops on plain air, a unique art corner dedicated to creative expression is organized on the first floor of the gallery space. In the reception hall, the products presented were created during the andragogic activity realized in cooperation with the Faros Society, the University for the Third Life Period Piran, which took place on the theme of water and land. Intergenerational activities and creative workshops, organized by curator-pedagogue Ana Papež, will continue during the national cultural holiday, with a dance workshop led by professional choreographer and director of SWANK dance school Tamara Perić. More on the link…

Exhibition view photo credits:
© Jaka Jeraša, Obalne Galerije Piran