I Feel Slovenia, I Feel Celje

The exhibition with the title “I Feel Slovenia, I Feel Celje” presents a patchwork of the personal stories and items of people who moved to Slovenia and, precisely, to Celje for numerous reasons, created a home here, and became engaged members of the society. The title itself clearly shows that the exhibition is intertwining the national and the local environments, which is mostly due to the fact that the idea of the exhibition arose from the exhibition “Slovenia and Africa: A web of people and objects”, set up in the Slovenian Ethnographical Museum in 2017. The story of former African students in Slovenia transfers to the environment of the immigrants of Celje.

Throughout the exhibition, personal stories and items complete one another, thus creating a sort of intimate space for the museum visitor to enter. All the items presented in the exhibition have been individually chosen by the participants. The purpose of the exhibition is to show the important influence of immigration on the development of a town and of a society, while at the same time presenting the role of personal items in relation to culture, identity, and memory.

The first part of the exhibition with the subtitle “I Feel Slovenia” shows stories and items of individuals from Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar. They arrived in Slovenia because they were given scholarships for foreigners who wanted to study in Yugoslavia in the framework of the Non-Aligned Movement; for different reasons, they later decided to stay here.

The second part of the exhibition with the subtitle “I Feel Celje” continues the story started in the Slovenian Ethnographical Museum, while at the same time localising it. This part of the exhibition shows personal stories and items of people who found their home away from home in Celje and its surroundings, while enriching the society and the culture of Celje with their work. Each story is a part of a personal experience of what it is like to live and create in Celje, just as each item is a memory of the country of birth and of life in it. All stories have been created in close cooperation with individuals who openly spoke about their experience of moving to and living in Celje.

The last part of the exhibition, “I Still Feel Celje”, is transferring us from the local to the global context. Quite a few inhabitants of Celje have moved abroad in recent years to create a new, different life. Along with greetings they send on their postcards, they are letting us know that, in another country, the people of Celje and, simultaneously, Slovenia, are also immigrants.

At the same time, they are communicating a strong message that we are all entitled to a better, safer, and cleaner world, and that we must not ever take away said right from anyone; in modern times, this is an extremely important message.

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