The Break Festival began in 1997 with the aim of bringing together young (up to 35 years old) emerging artists from all disciplines to present their work to Ljubljana audiences. During its early years, the festival brought in numerous young artists from the west, as well as from the former Yugoslavia and even Novosibirsk and Mongolia. Since 2000 the age limit has been abandoned and the festival is now orientated towards urban, technologically-supported arts and intermedia artistic practices that are perceived as current avant garde. The Festival now also presents special guests (world-acclaimed artists) with the aim of establishing an innovative dialogue with young emerging artists. One very important component is a symposium on the chosen festival theme with lectures by artists and scientists invited from different fields. This theme was ‘Invisible Threat’ in 2003 and the 'New Species' in 2005.
The purpose of the festival is to explore new artistic expressions and contemporary topics and to emphasise emerging poetics whose artistic discourse has not yet been deep-rooted within firmly established standards, criteria and cultural values. Categories of the festival include visual arts (comics, graphic prints, digital prints, photographs, interactive works and visual communication: ‘subvertising’ and computer-assisted art from web art to robotics); performing arts; intermedia arts; moving pictures (films of all categories: documentaries, fiction, video art, animated films, experimental films and short films); music and sound (concerts, sound installations and intermedia performances in which sound is given priority); architecture; and applied arts. Forms of presentation include 2-D exhibitions, installations and ambient performances, actions, concerts and sound installations, fashion shows, lectures, round tables and projections.
In 2005 the organisers received 329 project applications, out of which 38 were selected. The festival took place in four locations in the city of Ljubljana. The central location of the festival was the halls of a factory on Poljanska street 95 where 14 installations were exhibited, 12 different performances were performed and a symposium with 19 lectures, 4 of which include a workshop, were held during the first week of the festival. At Castle Kodeljevo the festival presented an exhibition of 16 installations. Due to its specific character, one of the art works was realised at the Botanical Gardens in Ljubljana, and another at the Kapelica Gallery, which was also its producer. In all a total of 63 projects was realised by 68 artists and some collaborators from the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Japan, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States of America.
The 9th Break Festival took place in different locations in the city centre in November 2007. A wide range of artists from all over the globe dealt with the issue of reality perception through exhibitions, performances, indoor and outdoor installations, symposia, lectures, video and film projections and workshops addressing the theme of the Potemkin village and its worldwide multi-form phenomena (fake, utopia, dystopia, facade, dissimulation, simulacra, imitation, fiction, propaganda, virtuality, diversion, fraud, mask, cosmetics, hoax...).
Co-operating organisations include SCCA-Ljubljana Centre for Contemporary Arts, the City Museum of Ljubljana, Ljubljana Dance Theatre (PTL), KUD Mreža Arts and Culture Association, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Radio Študent (RŠ), Maska Magazine, Urban Festival Zagreb, Vojvodjanka Novi Sad, Bitef Festival Beograd, Radio FRO Linz, Radio La Benevolencia Amsterdam, Imaginary Museum Projects Amsterdam, La General Collective Paris, Vector Foundation Bucharest, Cricoteca Krakov, Guelman Gallery Moscow and Empire Sydney.