Film by IRWIN in collaboration with Igor Zupe
Time for a New State. First Congress of NSK State in Time Citizens, Berlin
Slovenia, 2012
HD, 65 min

Conclusive plenary session of the First NSK Citizens’ Congress held in Berlin, October 2010
video document, 104 min

Promotion of 1st NSK Folk Art Biennale, Leipzig, 2014
mixed media


First Congress of the NSK State in Time Citizens, Berlin

The Slovene arts collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) founded the NSK State in Time in 1992, shortly after the collapse of socialism and the break-up of Yugoslavia in war. It emerged at a time when a radical rethinking of the nation-state was necessary, and yet it did not manifest itself geopolitically, but in the form of a collective artistic endeavor. Instead of to a territory NSK assigns the status of state to thinking, which alters its boundaries in accordance with the movements and changes of its symbolic and physical collective body. The NSK State does not identify itself with other real or actually existing states and has grown till now into ten thousand members collective.

Eighteen years after the founding of the state, the first NSK Citizens’ Congress took place in Berlin. From October 21 to 23 2010, delegates, founding members of NSK, and congress organizers met at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, a signature post-war modernist structure located in the heart of the Tiergarten, and a short distance from the Reichstag and new Chancellery building.

The 30 delegates in attendance represented a broad spectrum of political, aesthetic, and philosophical opinions. Predominantly from Europe and the U.S. (and also including delegates from Nigeria and New Zealand), they were initially selected through an application process open to all NSK citizens. Ostensibly, their task was to critically examine the formal and conceptual structure of the NSK state and to envisage potential avenues for its continuation and proliferation. Working in three groups, two days of discussion culminated in a gathering when delegates elected to meet together to craft a concluding statement that was presented to the audience at the conclusive plenary session.

NSK Folk Art

The NSK State was founded in 1992 as a transformation of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) art collective into the NSK State in Time. NSK was formed in 1984 in Yugoslavia by three groups – Irwin, Laibach and the Sisters Scipio Nasica Theater. Collaboration, a free flow of ideas between individual members and groups and the joint planning of actions were critical to NSK’s operations and its development. The NSK State was a response to the radical political changes in Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe at the start of the 1990s. In addition to projects such as temporary embassies and consulates, NSK State in Time began issuing passports in 1993. There are currently about 14,000 NSK passport holders around the world.

The Internet was a key tool for spreading the NSK State message. In 1994, NSK’s Electronic Embassy Tokyo website was launched and remained active for some years. In 2001 Haris Hararis from Athens launched the unofficial NSK website NSKSTATE.COM, which became the central meeting point for NSK citizens. Around this time it became clear that the citizens had begun to self-organize, both online and in the real world. They used the conceptual space and iconographies of the NSK State in Time and the various NSK groups as a basis for their own actions and responses. A decision was taken not to restrict such initiatives, but to support them.

There were many examples: in America film-maker Christian Matzke opened a NSK library on his own initiative. In Reykjavik, NSK citizens organized on their own initiative the NSK Guard of Iceland and their own NSK Embassy. In the mid-1990s Charlie Krafft from Seattle produced sets of NSK-themed porcelain plates. In 2007 Irwin and NSKSTATE.COM began gathering these artifacts, naming this phenomenon NSK Folk Art. NSK Folk Art is a collection of these works in various styles and contexts, these unforeseeable and improbable responses to NSK’s work and symbolism.



The first NSK FOLK ART Biennale 2014 will take place in Leipzig, Germany. An exhibition of selected works by artistically active NSK citizens is planned.

Previous NSK Folk Art exhibitions displayed predominantly works that made direct reference to classic NSK aesthetics and iconography.

The organizers of the Biennale (NSK STAAT LIPSK) want to take the concept a step further. The aesthetics of the Slovene core groups, the retro principle, overidentification with avant-garde movements to produce a (re)processing of the traumas of the 20th century certainly played important roles in the decision of artists to become citizens of NSK State. The same applies to the provocative and subversive power that has emanated from Neue Slowenische Kunst for the last 30 years.

However, the inspiration which visual artists draw from NSK does not necessarily require or determine a stylistic alignment with its established aesthetics. The new millennium presents new issues, themes and problems, and new media develop new ways of seeing and being seen. In this respect, the Biennale will also be a mirror of individual citizens’ positions, which in their sum form an artistic representation of the political, philosophical and cultural spirit of the NSK State in Time.

What is NSK Folk Art & why?

The 1st NSK Folk Art Biennale is both a construction site and manifestation of the NSK State in Time and Space. The NSK State is a “social sculpture”, a state without boundaries or fixed territory which uses art as a medium to subject histories, philosophies and ideologies to a contemporary examination and interrogation by and through their semiotics and iconographies.

Who produces NSK Folk Art & what is it for?

Citizens of the State (“das Volk”) are hereby requested to contribute their interpretations and visions of the state, its ideology and iconography to what will be the largest show of NSK state art worldwide. The basic intention is the update and expansion of a broadening Volkskunst (folk art) manifesting itself independent of limitations such as tribal traditions, regional customs and religious ritual. Paradoxically, it is this very raw material which can also be used to turn the analysis and (re)construction of the relations between art and politics into artistic practice. Particular value is placed on updates, variations and development of state semiotics in order to thus extend their transcendental validity claim to hitherto alien, outside imageries and cultural spaces in order to colonize them.

The Biennale Event(s)

The Biennale will feature an event program including lectures, debates, film screenings and parties (possibly including live music).


The IRWIN group consists of five artists: Dušan Mandič (Ljubljana, 1954), Miran Mohar (Novo Mesto, 1958), Andrej Savski (Ljubljana, 1961), Roman Uranjek (Trbovlje, 1961) and Borut Vogelnik (Kranj, 1959). The group was founded in 1983 in Ljubljana and IRWIN was also a co-founder of the NSK organization and the NSK State in Time.

Recent exhibitions and projects include: Former West, HKW, Berlin, 2013; A Bigger Splash, Tate Modern, London; NSK Passport Office, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Manifesta, Genk, 2012; The Global Contemporary. The Art Worlds after 1989, ZKM/Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, The International, MACBA, Barcelona, 2011; The Promises of the Past, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2010, State in Time, Kunsthalle Krems, 2009; Here Is Every, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), 2008–09; NSK Passport Holders, Taipei Biennial, Taipei Art Museum, 2008; Birds of a Feather, Akbank Art Center, Istanbul, 2006–07; Collective Creativity, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, 2005; IRWIN: Retroprincip 19832003, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2003; and Individual Systems, 50th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2003. Members of the group live and work in Ljubljana.