Borderline Syndrome and Energies of Defence


On the occasion of the 2020 Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory Ceremony, the discussion Borderline Syndrome and Energies of Defence will kick off this year’s programme. Twenty years after Ljubljana hosted the European Biennial of Contemporary Art Manifesta 3 – for which Igor Zabel acted as coordinator – we return with Šejla Kamerić, Renata Salecl, and Kathrin Rhomberg to its central theme – “borderline syndrome and energies of defence” – and look at it through the lens of today’s realities.

The curators of the third edition of Manifesta – Francesco Bonami, Ole Bouman, Mária Hlavajová, and Kathrin Rhomberg – wanted to ground the contemporary art event in political reality. They decided to think about what defines contemporary Europe through the perspective of “the borderline syndrome and defence energies”. They recognised the concept of the borderline syndrome, which they borrowed from the field of psychology, as befitting our times, noting that issues of identity diffusion and defence, protection and resistance, had an impact at many levels – artistic, geopolitical, social, personal. As the curators wrote in the first Manifesta 3 newsletter, their decision for the selected topic was reinforced by the position of Ljubljana and Slovenia as a space between the former East and West, a country politically on the brink of entering the EU, and geographically close to ethnic struggles. Other factors related to the problem of protection also led the curators to reflect on the borderline: new walls being erected across Europe and its mental map; migration; the defence reflex, which could be seen in the legitimisation of dangerous political forces; various defence strategies against the accelerated globalisation of the free market. In the end, a contemporary art event grounded in political reality also raises the question about the borderline between art and socio-political reality. 


Šejla Kamerić – artist, Sarajevo
Renata Salecl – philosopher and sociologist, Ljubljana
Kathrin Rhomberg – curator and member of Manifesta 3 curatorial team, Vienna

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The discussion focus will be on exploring the selected topic from today’s perspective. The invited speakers have each been asked to shed light on the selected topic from their own unique viewpoint.

This debate is part of a longer-term collaboration with the < rotor > association for contemporary art in Graz.

Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.