Marija Skočir is the senior curator and head of both the Jakopič and Match Galleries in Ljubljana. She has (co-)curated more than 20 exhibitions in the past decade, including by world renowned photographers like Josef Koudelka, Roger Ballen, Lee Miller, Sebastião Salgado and Marc Riboud. In 2010 and 2013 she was deputy commissioner of the Slovenian Pavilion at Venice Biennale. In parallel to her work, she's a researcher in Art History at the University of Ljubljana, focusing on the significance of Magnum Photos agency for Central European photography.
What's the gallery's connection to Rihard Jakopič, one of Slovenia's most renowned painters?
After the Jakopič Pavillion in Tivoli park was demolished in 1962, the City Gallery was established as a successor, and the Jakopič Gallery was later set up as a venue for the presentation of visual artists by members of Association of Slovene Visual Artists in Ljubljana.
The space itself is a bit unusual. Can you tell us more about it?
Architect Edvard Ravnikar originally planned for the building to be supported by open-air concrete pillars, which are still visible in the gallery today, but then they decided to wall off the passages. This means we have a semi-underground space, with quite low ceilings. Still, it is one of biggest exhibition spaces in Ljubljana and is very flexible - when you as a curator know how to embrace a space, it is absolutely unique.
In recent years the gallery has primarily focused on photography. How did this come about?
This is mainly because of the gap we had or still have in the field of photography. Apart from private galleries, we do not have another venue in Ljubljana devoted exclusively to photography. Photography is the most diverse, but also independent media, which needs a specific approach.
Do you think photography is able to impact viewers in ways that other mediums cannot?
Photography is always a blueprint of some kind of reality, no matter how manipulated this reality might be. It is a strong visual language, its message can be very direct, we believe in its faithfulness much more than in any other media - so it can touch us very deeply. This is especially true for documentary and press photography, as we are used to learning about the world history and everyday events.
Any upcoming exhibitions that our readers should already mark on their calendars?
They should absolutely not miss the exhibition currently on show, Marc Riboud: Conscious traveller. Concerned Photographer. It's not often that a curator is given an opportunity to select vintage photographs from the family archive of such a world renowned photographer.