Together with the Petrović Njegoš Foundation, we have started working together on the Archive of Cetinje Biennials project by signing a cooperation agreement. The project was initiated and conceived by the Institute of Contemporary Art, with the aim of preserving and professionally processing the value that the Cetinje Biennial has brought to the culture of Montenegro.
With this cooperation for the actualisation of the Biennials of Cetinje, we want to emphasise their role in the recent history of culture and their influence on the modernisation of the visual arts scene and its connection with the international art scene.
The Cetinje Biennial was initiated in 1989, by architect and activist Nikola Petrović Njegoš and it quickly grew into an internationally recognised exhibition of contemporary art, with five editions held between 1991 and 2005. The historical moment in which the idea of the Cetinje Biennale (1989-1991) was conceived and realised, as well as the period of its duration (1991-2005), correspond to social changes that were also reflected in the further development of the Montenegrin art scene.
These changes were part of the programmatic and thematic concept of all individual editions of the Biennial, introducing contemporary art practices, but also engagement and participation within the Montenegrin art scene, and ultimately resulting in the emergence of a whole new generation of artists. The Biennale enabled the production of visual art from a strictly institutional framework, as well as the internationalisation of the visual scene by bringing in a number of relevant European artists and curators, thus enabling a strong and revolutionary turn of the local scene that can be methodologically analysed and monitored in parallel with the development of the Biennial.
Unfortunately, in the fifteen years since the last Biennale, the documents and data on the biennial have not been made available to the public. No professional records, documentation, or adequate implementation in art education and analysis of this period of Montenegrin history and culture were made. The consequence of the lack of adequate archiving and processing of the documentation on the biennial and the entire context resulting from its work, gradually leads to the waste and disappearance of data, memories and knowledge about this important document from the recent history of Montenegrin culture and art. In such circumstances, the possibility of establishing a constructive review and continuous development of Montenegrin contemporary art is made difficult and interrupted, and creates an atmosphere of inconsistency and irresponsibility for the effort and created values contained in the complex history behind the five editions of the international biennials of visual arts held in Cetinje.
Therefore, we see the Cetinje Biennale as the basis for constructing an internationally relevant physical and digital space, an archival model necessary for the preservation, analysis and understanding of Montenegrin contemporary visual art, and thus the understanding of local and wider cultural and social reality through the language of contemporary art.
The aim of the project is to valorise this significant international event through the archival, curatorial and artistic processing of documentation of all five issues of the Biennial owned by the Petrović Njegoš Foundation, in the form of documentary exhibitions and scientific panels, as it is the basis for the scientific contextualisation of Montenegrin contemporary production in the discipline of visual arts and culture. Without professional archiving and documentation, as well as marking of these key points in the history of Montenegrin culture and, above all, its professional dissemination, the continuity of the development of contemporary artistic practices cannot be understood, nor can the correct perspective of its further relevance be established. That is why this is at the same time a project of creating archives of contemporary Montenegrin visual art (which to date has not been formed by any institution dedicated to this discipline) because the archival material of all five editions of the Biennale, at which Montenegrin artists were represented equally with significant international authors, has the potential to illuminate relevance of creativity of Montenegrin authors developed in the most difficult circumstances of embargo, transition, isolation and marginalisation, whose consequences are still largely felt today. Namely, the professional processing, placement and contextualisation of contemporary Montenegrin visual art since the 1990s, through the acquisition of numerous (transitional, geopolitical and other) circumstances, was still observed and present on the international scene solely through the individual engagements of authors without quality structural and institutional support, that is. strategic cultural policies of the country.