E-xhibition "Alenka Bartl, Costume-Designer"

Virtual exhibition by the National Theatre Museum of Slovenia and Novi ZATO

Alenka Bartl, Costume Designer

"Tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flame." (Thomas More)

Alenka Bartl has a very rich creative career behind her. In the early 1950s, before graduating from the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade, she designed her first costumes for plays, operas and ballets at the Slovene National Theatre in Ljubljana. She was one of the first Slovene professional costume designers to have a university degree in fine art and costume design. Over a period of fifty-five years she designed over 500 sets of theatre costumes, worked on approximately forty film and television productions, and laid the foundations for the first Slovene sections for costume design at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, and as a Full Professor at these two institutions influenced generations of students. She made a considerable contribution towards the establishment of costume design as an independent artistic genre in Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia (it was under her initiative that the Golden Arena awards for costume design were introduced at the Festival of Yugoslav Film in Pula).

The costume sketches by Alenka Bartl (according to the currently available data, there are over 5000 of them in private collections and at the iconotheque of the National Theatre Museum) and the drama, opera, ballet, film and television costumes based on them reveal an intelligent, instinctive and often witty artist, full of joie de vivre and, above all, curious and forever searching. She was able to follow the message communicated by the written work, the director’s interpretation of it and the psychology, i.e. the dramaturgic characterisation of the protagonists, and capture the character of the interpreter – the person wearing the costume. In her sketches (and costumes) she always skilfully and thoughtfully combined historical (artistic) styles dictated by the text or music on which the production was based with the aesthetic of the time of the theatre, film or television production.

Alenka Bartl’s creations have appeared at numerous important festivals and exhibitions at home and abroad (in addition to the Prague Quadrennial let us mention the notable international exhibitions in Tokyo and Shanghai) and received numerous awards, among them the Prešeren Foundation Award (1972) and the Grand Prešeren Award for her life’s work (1989). This year she was also given the highest Slovene award for creativity in film, the Metod Badjura Award for her life’s work.

The Slovenian National Theatre Museum, in cooperation with the National Gallery in Ljubljana, in April 2012 organised a survey exhibition Alenka Bartl, Costume Designer, in which 355 costume sketches and 15 costumes were shown. With this e-exhibition we wish to “extend” the life of the exhibition and increase its scope to more than 550 sketches. Of course, a virtual exhibition cannot replace the unique and unrepeatable experience of a “physical” exhibition, by seeing the original works of art in real space and time, but it does have some advantages: it offers a remote approach to the works of art that is flexible with regard to time, usually reaches a wider audience (often even people not in the habit of visiting museums and galleries), and brings the comfort of seeing the exhibition from the “comfort of one’s armchair”; moreover, the organisers can keep adding to the exhibition, linking its elements to other internet content. Digitalised sketches become a part of international internet databases; with its wide (we could call it democratic) accessibility they contribute to the knowledge and awareness of the Slovenian theatre heritage and cultural heritage in general, connecting it with other present and future creative achievements.

E-exhibition: Slovenian National Theatre Museum (represented by Ivo Svetina) and Novi ZATO. (represented by Samo M. Strelec) | Opened: 25 October 2012, Maribor Theatre Festival | Exhibition curator: Tea Rogelj, MA

Sketches selected by: Alenka Bartl and Tea Rogelj  | Computer design of the digital collections and the virtual exhibition on the portal sigledal.org: Gregor Matevc  | Identification and record of sketches: Ana Perne and Tea Rogelj  | Digitalisation: Dušan Nelec  | Translation into English: Maja Visenjak Limon

Sketch: Alenka Bartl, Lysistrata by Aristophanes (SNT Drama Ljubljana, opening on 26 December 1975)

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