Dubravka Ugrešić

NEW: Considering the development of the situation regarding the spread of the corona virus, Rijeka 2020 in agreement with its partners, decided to cancel all events planned till April 14th 2020, regardless of the number of people who would gather at these events. MORE

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With an exhibition inspired by a collection of spelling books, the well-known writer Dubravka Ugrešić also introduces herself as an artist in a different genre to the wider public. In the framework of the Dopolavoro flagship of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, the exhibition Red School will open at Filodrammatica Gallery (Korzo 28/1, Rijeka), on Thursday, 26 March, at 20:00.

Visit the exhibition until 16 April, from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 – 13:00 and 17:00 – 20:00. Admission is free.

At the beginning of the war in Yugoslavia in 1991, Dubravka Ugrešić accidentally ran across a spelling book from 1957, which, by the year of publication, could well have been her own. In her words:

“Suddenly I had two new worlds emerging in front of me: a remote, forgotten world of the spelling book promising a happy future, and another, real, present world that was brutally denying that future..”

The episode was an introduction into her collecting of spelling books which in turn resulted with an essay published in her book The Culture of Lying, and also with a series of visual works presented at this exhibition. There are scenes from school life presented by little figures and drawings inspired by spelling books.

The exhibition also shows the original alphabet and spelling books that she collected over the years, mainly from Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia. The exhibition presents this brilliant writer as an artist in a different genre and medium, not just as polygons for repetition of the themes already mastered, but as spaces in which she draws attention to some new motives in a playful and tender way.



Over the past three decades, Dubravka Ugresic has established herself as one of Europe’s most distinctive novelists and essayists. From her early postmodernist excursions, to her elegiac reckonings in fiction and the essay with the disintegration of her Yugoslav homeland and the fall of the Berlin Wall, through to her more recent writings on popular and literary culture, Ugresic’s work is marked by a rare combination of irony, polemic, and compassion. Following degrees in Comparative and Russian Literature, Ugresic worked for many years at the University of Zagreb’s Institute for Theory of Literature, successfully pursuing parallel careers as both a writer and as a scholar. In 1991, when war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, Ugresic took a firm anti-war stance, critically dissecting retrograde Croatian and Serbian nationalism, the stupidity and criminality of war, and in the process became a target for nationalist journalists, politicians and fellow writers. Subjected to prolonged public ostracism and persistent media harassment, she left Croatia in 1993. In an exile that has in time become emigration, her books have been translated into over twenty languages. She has taught at a number of American and European universities, including Harvard, UCLA, Columbia and the Free University of Berlin. She is the winner of several major literary prizes (Austrian State Prize for European Literature 1998; finalist of Man Booker International Prize 2009; Jean Améry Essay Prize, awarded for her essayistic work as a whole, 2012; Vilenica Prize 2016; while Karaoke Culture was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism 2011. She is the winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Ugresic lives in Amsterdam. (Photo: Shevuan Williams. Norman, Oklahoma 2016)

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