Final Press Release

MY FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE WILL TAKE PLACE TODAY, ON 16 OCTOBER, AT 3 P.M. AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART IN FRONT OF THE TRIESTE CONSTRUCTIVIST CABINET

I hereby announce that I am ending my hunger strike today, on 16 October.

Today, following several important resolutions that emerged over the past few days, I received the opinion of the Public Accounting Directorate, which states that the expenses that the Municipality of Vitanje submitted as part of the documentation regarding the execution of the contract with the Ministry, are justified. It also states that KSEVT’s management of public resources was justified and transparent. This is enough for me to stop putting my health in danger and concentrate my efforts on collaboration with the government’s team in order to ensure a constructive transition of KSEVT into a functional institution.

I therefore expect the Ministry of Culture to renounce its request for KSEVT to return the funds it had been granted, so that we close last year’s balance and start focusing on finding a solution for this year’s situation.

The Ministry now has an opportunity to act upon the realization that the criminalization of KSEVT’s management in 2014 resulted from the Director-General of the Creativity Directorate’s lack of will for seeking constructive solutions: it is now evident that the employee purposefully caused major material and moral damage to me, KSEVT, and to the Ministry of Culture. I hope that the Minister and the employees alike take our case as a warning that Ministry officials should not act as mere guardians of accountancy rules, but as, first and foremost, as those who should actively follow the development of artistic practices and strive for creating the best possible conditions for art and culture.

Regarding my second claim, the Prime Minister, who shook hands with me at the Museum of Modern Art on 13 October, gave me his word that all the necessary measures will be taken to establish solid productional foundations for KSEVT. Such activities are due to begin next week.

My third claim was widely discussed and there was public recognition of the need for a raise in the share of budget allocations to culture to 2% of the annual government budget. The resolution of the National Council, which was passed on to the National Assembly, calls for an increase in funding as soon as possible. The government should take the massive reaction of concerned international partners of the Slovenian artistic scene as a warning that our projects in international consortia should not be toyed around with. This international support is what we should build on in order to to put pressure on politics, which should take the most responsible approach possible to creating conditions that would allow us to measure up to the commitment that our European partners expect from us!

Let the case of KSEVT be taken as a warning by political decision-makers: it demonstrates that art and culture are fragile qualities of humanity. There is always too little humanity, so we shall always demand more.

I thank everyone who recognized the reasons behind my claims as our common issues and responded to the strike with their own insights and activities.

Miha Turšič

Final Press Release

Press Release #16

15 October 2015, the sixteenth day of KSEVT’s cofounder Miha Turšič’s hunger strike

There was a press conference at noon, in front of the Trieste Constructivist Cabinet. I wished to present the reasons to continue with my strike. Despite the breaking moment in my fight to solve the situation, when yesterday the Prime Minister sincerely promised to establish KSEVT within the framework of the Slovenian Space Agency, I cannot suppress my fears that the conditions and circumstances for its successful functioning remain unchanged: there is still no understanding at the Ministry of Culture and this may smother the favour of other ministries within the agency and, moreover, cause insufficient funding, so the culture will be unable to win an equal share among participants. No, I do not behave like a spoiled child who was given an inch and then took a mile. I act as a responsible artist/producer who is concerned about the conditions in which the contents will be implemented and in which financial sustainability will be given to projects, defined as avant-garde, therefore in need of extreme attention when considering the ways of their implementation.

I cannot understand: how can the Minister of Culture not grasp the fact that she should create certain conditions at the ministry in order to adapt the ministry to the needs of art – and not to adapt art to procedures. Why does she surround herself with people who hate art? Who hate the contemporary? Who hate independence? And they interpret all of this as maladjustment, aggression and savageness. Artists are beyond morality. They relate to ethics, and this prevents them from withdrawing their wish! Whoever fails to understand this, has no place at the Ministry of Culture. Is it not clear for the Minister that she will only be good at what she does if she will surround herself with good personnel, if possible, greater art experts than herself?

I had a medical examination today. The doctor says everything is within normal rates. In other words, I continue to strike.

Press Release #16

Speech at the National Assembly

During the past few years of my involvement in KSEVT I have experienced some rather extreme situations, the ones I did not expect to happen in my life. When I struggled to overcome them, I also tried to look back at certain role models that shaped my personality. There is one particulary important among them. Back in the childhood years, children in our family were told a story about our great-granduncle Jakob Aljaž.

They described him as a man fond of the mountains, a daring man who, above all, recognised the urge for action that would functionally materialise a need (a shelter) and establish a symbol of mountaineering culture (to mark the top of the highest mountain). His work was not only an object, but a common identity. It reflected upon the relation between man and space, between the mountaineer and the mountain. And this was a time when there was no mass rush of travelers in the mountains yet, just as there is no real mass spaceflight today.

Later in life, I recognised a similar quality in Herman Potočnik Noordung. He was not only the first engineer to have integrated the existing technological knowledge into the first space architecture designs, he also recognised the need and problems of human habitation outside the Earth. He was the first culturalisator of space. And so he had inspired a whole new generation of space engineers, the ones who sent the first rockets, first satellite and first man to space – and reached for the Moon.

Speaking as a designer – I worked in product and trademark development for ten years –, the manifestation of human culture within the industrial production meant a great deal to me, because it helps us understand our common qualities, regardless of their traditional, urban, national or planetary nature.

And that is why, years ago, I decided for KSEVT, an institution that would systematically contribute to the understanding of the human in space – and, consequentially, the human on the Earth. After all, it is in space where we should reconsider everything we claim to know about the human.

There are many people behind everything you know about KSEVT, though the central team consists also of Dragan, Dunja and Srečko, a man who built this structure. There are many who worked in KSEVT and many who understand it from a distance, contributing with their knowledge and experience. Many of them wrote their opinions and insights to the current situation. You can read them in these very days. Since we stand at the National Assembly, I would like to point out that many politicians, too, understood the uniqueness of space culturalisation and supported or enabled it. Sometimes with a gesture, a letter, with communication, and sometimes with resources.

To make it clear – up to now, most of the resources for KSEVT came from Europe, after that, the Municipality of Vitanje, thirdly, individuals; the State comes only fourth in this list. But except the construction of the building, KSEVT’s activities were largerly made possible by us, individuals – the founders. In this year, however, we came to a point when we, the founders and the Municipality, have completely exhausted all our capacities. Even though we have tried to reach an agreement with the State for many years, we still have not found a mechanism to ensure a sustainable functionality for KSEVT and the implementation of space culturalisation. Rapid changes of governments have no doubt made a large impact, too. We have had five or six different Ministers of Culture during this period. In the last year, following the Article 67 of ZUJIK (Act on the Implementation of Public Interest in Culture), a transitional mechanism was established and helped us to survive. This is why the municipal public institute was formed and so the mechanism began to work. But only for one year. This year – not only were we cut off from any funding, there were also attempts by the Creativity Directorate of the Ministry of Culture to disable us and label our acts as criminal. Instead of solving current problems, they created new ones. The municipal public institute became a training ground for bureaucratic sadism and could not continue to facilitate space culturalisation any longer.

Over the last few days it became popular to mention the „unjustified use of given resources, non-transparency“ and other types of media promoted syntax. I therefore wish to emphasize that the entire business conduct was legal and transparent, but one should draw a line between cause and consequence. The cause lies in the fact that space culturalisation did not have the basic systemic support, the consequence, however, is a set of anomalies, starting with the artists financing the equipment and contents, developing the national cultural heritage and an international network on their own … and so on and so forth …

… until the destruction of KSEVT, before it even began to function properly.

Ths is why I demanded the Director-General of the Creativity Directorate to resign, because I cannot accept that a government official is implementing personal politics which then result in the destruction of a cultural institution. The politics of manipulation, misleading bureaucracy and arrogance, where any kind of dialogue is being refused, has prevented the programme from being carried out and brought us to the edge of our minimum survival requirements.

This is why I demanded that if an investment in the building of such a structure and in setting the foundations of Slovenian space identity did indeed occur, it should be organised in the form of an operational national institution and thus be granted sustainable functionality and development.

This is why I demanded the conditions for cultural activities to improve by raising the share of financial means for culture in the national budget to 2%, in order to prevent the destruction of continuity which was being developed for entire decades, and to enable the 21st century culture.

I began my hunger strike at the end of September, we are in mid-October now, the fifteenth day, to be precise. I have no intention to break the strike until my claims are met, not until art and culture will be recognised as central manifestations of our ethics.

14 October 2015

Speech at the National Assembly

Press Release #15

THE THIRD PRESS CONFERENCE WILL TAKE PLACE TODAY, ON 15 OCTOBER AT 12 P.M. IN FRONT OF THE TRIESTE CONSTRUCTIVIST CABINET AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

14 October 2015, the fifteenth day of KSEVT’s cofounder Miha Turšič’s hunger strike

Today was a loooong day. The session at the National Council began at 9 a.m. The Minister came accompanied by the entire Creativity Directorate, which did not utter a word during the whole session. Naturally, she was the only one to speak. But the only thing she had to say was that the accounting documentation was incomplete and that raging artists, who come to her ministry to throw tables around, are giving her righteous officials, who are no lawbreakers, a very tough time.

The Members of the Council, on the other hand, were great! They concluded the session by adopting resolutions that address all of my claims. In the third resolution, they even demonstrated their anger and pointed to a resolution they had adopted 10 days ago, saying that they recommend the government raise the share of the budget allocated to culture to 1% of the GDP!

Later that afternoon, I got a visit from the Prime Minister at the Museum of Modern Art. He was well acquainted with the issues at hand, and our conversation revolved around the core of the matter. He assured me that all the necessary measures will be taken for KSEVT to be established in an appropriate form.

The session of the Committee for Culture at the National Assembly began at 5 p.m. Even more officials from the Ministry of Culture showed up, and they were even quieter than in the morning. The Minister hijacked the initiative for an interdepartmental search for solutions for KSEVT (sic!). Tellingly enough, she concluded that KSEVT’s programme positioned it elsewhere, certainly not in the framework of the Ministry of Culture. The discussion that followed this statement sounded anything but a harmonious symphony in her support. Except for Božidar Novak, the famous novelist, whose escapade, worthy of a paid henchman, touched the very bottom of the sewers that his articles kept filling up over the past days, the other discussants managed to tell the seeds from the chaff and emphasized that the case of KSEVT is a symptom of bad conditions in culture and society in general.

The Secretary of State from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister presented a proposal that addresses the second claim of my hunger strike. By and large, the proposed solution envisages establishing a Slovenian Space Agency, where KSEVT would be one of the stakeholders. It would fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Economy, which would make it possible for the Agency to benefit from synergies between the economy, science, education, and culture. I am well aware that there is still a long way to go before we reach a functional solution, but this approach is promising.

And nothing was said regarding my other two claims! But, you know, what transformed KSEVT from a perfectly functional legal-formal form into a catastrophe in the first place, were precisely the conditions that I am addressing in points 1 and 3! What is there to reassure us that officials, who are incapable of dialogue, and a general lack of funding won’t result in another round of hell for KSEVT despite this new organizational solution? Politics should consciously make sure its decisions come to life! Because it just might happen that the moment politicians, who act in our favour, leave the dance-floor of the government, the project is torn apart by officials and their inexplicable non/decisions.

The situation we are currently faced with is grotesque. The Ministry of Culture that created this radical state of affairs seems to be coming out absolutely victorious. No one can do anything about their incompetent officials, they almost managed to get rid of KSEVT and at the same time secure excellent starting points to increase the share of the budget allocated to culture that the Minister will proceed to (as she emphasized on several occasions today) hand over to cultural heritage, which her expert opinion considers as the most undernourished aspect of the Ministry of Culture. A world gone wrong.

We are not there yet. I therefore continue with my hunger strike!

Press Release #15

Press Release #14

13 October 2015, the fourteenth day of KSEVT’s cofounder Miha Turšič’s hunger strike

Today, I was cheered up by the Prime Minister’s appearance on the First Daily News on Slovenian National Television, where he stated loud and clear that the government supports the existence of KSEVT and the continuation of its activities. I was particularly cheered up by the statement that he wanted to solve matters as soon as possible, as did the Ministry. The statement ended in a most excellent way: a solution that would benefit the Institute, as well as culture, science, and the economy … hm, I just hope that excellence does not grow sour in the firm embrace of bureaucracy.

I am extremely curious about what is going to happen in the Parliament tomorrow. I was invited to the National Council at 9 a.m., and to the National Assembly at 5 p.m. The form frightens me. Incessant permissions to speak, counting votes, and compromising are means of exhaustion, and definitely not methods that can account for the particularities of art. Will they understand how my three claims are interrelated? Will they understand the extreme conditions that have pushed the entire cultural sphere to the brink of despair and survival?

Press Release #14

Press Release #13

12 October 2015, the thirteenth day of KSEVT’s cofounder Miha Turšič’s hunger strike

According to the news I read on the STA (Slovenian News Agency) portal, ‘the Prime Minister Miro Cerar and the leader of DeSUS Karl Erjavec support the work of the Minister of Culture Julijana Bizjak Mlakar’ … huh, and did anyone have problems with the Minister in the first place? It seems as though they listened to a briefing of their spin doctors and, through a telephone-effect, missed the whole point. My first claim does not aim at the Minister but at the Director-General of the Creativity Directorate who has been tainting the Minister’s vision with lies. The STA quotes Erjavec: ‘He is familiar with the fact that the Ministry has been trying to find some solutions and aid the project from the very beginning.’ (sic!) Could someone please tell me who acquaints these people with the reality we are living in?!? I hold nothing against the first of the State’s ministers and his government department colleagues but I feel more and more that this buraucratic apparatus, established during the years of quick seasonal changes in the government, eventually overthrew it and came to power. Of course the contents are of no interest to it whatsoever.

There are letters of support coming in from all over the world. The feeling that I am not insane is finally back. So is the feeling that KSEVT should persist. If I should be allowed a little pathos, and quote Primož Trubar: to exist and to persist.

I had a thorough medical examination today, along with a blood sample:

Considering the clinical state and laboratory results, Miha Turšič remains in a stable state, however, we can expect things to get worse, should the hunger strike be prolonged. If any signs of confusion, insomnia, arrythmia, general weakness or cramps in the skeletal muscles occur, I reccomend that he be examined by an emergency doctor, hospitalised or that adequate measures are taken.

Press Release #13

Press Release #12

11 October 2015, the twelfth day of KSEVT’s cofounder Miha Turšič’s hunger strike

It was another incredibly busy Sunday. Many visits and phone calls from morning till late in the evening. Only yesterday, it seemed I would have the weekend to catch up on sleep, but I have been hallucinating next Wednesday and the Committee of Culture session at the National Assembly all day long. I have been going through possible scenarios and am more and more convinced that crucial decisions should take place before Wednesday, so that the Committee does not turn out to be just another one of those forums where we swear we are friends with art and culture.

Maybe I am really starting to hallucinate, but this State would be something completely different if the Committee of Science and the Committee of Economics also convened on our matter, and took interest in evaluating the synergetic potentials of KSEVT. A technologised society may either be a society of those enslaved by machines or a society that has culturalised technology for a better life for the majority. KSEVT is exactly this. An artistic, scientific, and technological emanation of the best that civilisation has produced to have been able to free itself of gravity and contemplate itself as a whole.

A meticulous medical examination is on the agenda tomorrow.

Press Release #12