Rog factory is an industrial complex on the east edge of Ljubljana centre, which produced the famous Rog bicycles and was shut down in 1 991. Since then it has laid abandoned, empty, and in deterioration for 15 years. In 2006 the area was occupied by engaged students, artists and activists as a critical response to the post-socialist transition process (privatisation and de-industrialisation), and erosion of public and social spaces (individualisation and atomisation of society). The occupation pulled legitimacy from the need for places for non-formal artistic, cultural and political activity (autonomy, alternative culture, horizontal political organising).

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Ladies and gentlemen of the panel,


We are writing to you with the aim to inform you and encourage you to thoroughly consider the possible consequences of your decisions in your European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) venturing, and understand the possible impact your decision may have on the city of Ljubljana. As there are numerous publications problematizing the ECoC project itself, even at the official European level, we will stick to the local issues, as it is also a matter of urgency for us.
This is simultaneously an open letter and therefore meant for wider audiences in addition to functioning as transparent and open communication.

Since the possibility emerged, we have raised concerns and expressed our horror in several ways over the prospect of the management of the ECoC title in the hands of the municipal government of Ljubljana(MOL). We were joined in our critique by a wide community of local cultural actors as it became evident that the ways in which MOL went about its candidature was marked by its typical exclusivist approach. What we call an authoritarian approach of MOL is nothing new, but in this case it presupposes the support of a multimillion euro investment by the European Commission.

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We received the minutes (record notes) of the court hearing, dated 24 September 2020, from the District Court in Ljubljana, a hearing of the representative of the Municipality of Ljubljana (MOL) and two former Autonomous Factory Rog users. The target of the mayor's accusations are again the same people, despite their unenviable economic situation, whom the municipality decided to agonize, financially and otherwise, via court procedures two years ago. At the hearing Zoran Janković (mayor) and Jože Klavdij Novak (MOL attorney) laid false accusations that the former users still live in Rog despite the court's ban, incorrectly reported about the Autonomous Factory Rog (AF Rog) and told many lies at the expense of both interrogated.

It is clear that with such a maneuver the municipality is trying to put pressure on the rest of the AF Rog community through former users. In response to this, we want to expose the lies of J. K. Novak and Z. Janković, the lies which are recorded as testimony in the court record. We also believe that the  purpose of this testimony is just another futile attempt to achieve the eviction of AF Rog. We urge the court to examine the accuracy of the statements made by MOL, whereby it will arrive at the nonsense and contradictions of the statements of J. K. Novak and Z. Janković and come to the conclusion that they testified falsely.

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One year after the occupation - in 2007 - the municipality began planning the renovation of the area into a “Creative centre Rog”, putting the emphasis on redeveloping the surroundings in order to build an attractive area for international artists and tourists. With the help of an EU-led project devoted to revitalization of ex-industrial zones, they propose a public-private partnership to renovate the main factory building, the construction of a design hotel, up-standard apartments and commercial programs. The public-private ration is 20-80%. One of the proposals also suggests a relocation of 3 art academies to Rog, but their deans deny it, because of non-defined relations between academic and commercial programs and because they don’t want their students - who are active in the factory - to lose their studios/ateliers. The municipality could never find an investor because of global recession, so they down-scaled the project into an all- publicly financed “centre for architecture, design and visual arts” stressed on developing the creative industries economic sector and helping young designers into entering the labor market.

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With the renewed escalation of pressure from the City Municipality of Ljubljana, we turn to you with a public appeal to the city administration to agree to an open dialogue with the users of AT Rog, which we’ve been trying to establish in vain for three years. Instead of violent confrontations or closed negotiations we are striving for an open discussion about the future of the Rog Factory in cooperation with the interested professional public. We ask you to contribute to our petition and help find a common, transparent and non-violent solution to the conflict.

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Chronology of the factory spaces on Trubarjeva street.

  • 1871 - The land is bought by Ivan Janesh who builds a smaller groundfloor building for tanning hides.
  • 1879 - Janesh upgrades it into a one storey building that holds a tanning workshop.
  • 1884 - His sons build the second floor.
  • 1900 - The tannery is bought by Karel Pollak, who renovates and modernizes the workshop.
  • 1904 - Pollak surrounds the area with a wall and builds a residential villa.

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