This website hosts a large list of youtube videos of transferred photofilm animations that were produced in the AnimaFilm Studio in Bucharest. It was initially a state studio was started in 1964, during the Communist period and had the animator figure of Ion Popescu-Gopo working there.
The exhibition organised together with the artists who formed subREAL (C?lin Dan, Iosif Király and Dan Mih?l?ianu) assembles for the first time a vast selection of conceptual works that cover the whole artistic journey of the group, from its foundation in the summer of 1990 to the present.
Founded by C?lin Dan (art historian at the time) and Dan Mihaltianu (artist), shortly joined by Iosif Király (architect and photographer), ”the group of action” appeared as a consequence of the political changes in 1989 in order to “exorcise the residue of the decades of communist oppression.”
Combining installation with the formal elements of performance and actionism, the works produced in 1990-1992 (East-West Avenue, Alimentara, Je t’aime, moi non plus ….) make a visual inventory of the remnants of the officially closed communist period, revealing a complex common background that was manifest at that time (and long afterwards) in the artistic world, in the political one and in society in general. Triggered by a reaction to the clichés of the western press when referring to the Romania of the 90s as well as to the autochthonous nationalistic discourse, the Draculaland series (1993-1995) combined fiction with reality by using multi-cultural and personal sources in complex installations which abounded in ironic references and cynical associations. “Although the hybridisation between Vlad the Impaler/Dracula and Mona Lisa was a spontaneous gesture, it instinctively sought to simplify our relation to a culture that had problems in its (Central/East/Balkan European) ‘regional’ integration in ways other than exotic.” In 1993 Dan Mih?l?ianu left the group opting for an individual artistic career.
Their one-year residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (1995-1996) marked the beginning of a new stage for the subREAL duo, the distance from Romanian everyday life allowing them to initiate the Art History Archive series. 18 crates with photographic material abandoned by UAP (the Fine Art Union) after the disbandment of the Arta magazine – which had controlled the public image of local art between 1953 and 1990 – made their way to Berlin, where they were initially turned into dynamic sculpture by covering the walls and ceiling of the space of their dwelling with b/w reproductions of various dimensions. This headfirst introduction was followed by a series of events, installations and performances which had artistic press photography as their conceptual core. The Serving Art series (1997-1999) was next, in which a number of negatives of reproduction photos were deconstructed in installations that recovered the universe of the aura around the art object – objects, characters, events – following themes such as: the interaction between culture and politics; photography as a bridge between the public and private spheres; the ambiguous innocence of the photographic camera; social involvement versus social convention, etc.
In the Interviewing the Cities series initiated in Vienna in 1999, “the servants of art”, marginal characters who carried out the ritual of presenting the art work, were replaced by the members of the group. The re-enactment of the images in the archive had a double purpose this time: to analyse the artistic reality in various towns on several levels and to articulate a subjective journal of our relationships with people and places. “The project is made of three series of staged photographs: portraits produced in collaboration with the members of the local artistic communities; interviews with public space monuments; urban perspectives using the trompe l’oeil technique in order to underline the artificiality of urbanism and its good collaboration with mediatic tourism.”
subREAL is the first truly international group that originated in Romania after 1989. Belonging to a generation of transition, the members of the group took the first steps in establishing a dialogue with western art, transforming the closed culture from which they were coming into an open one. They initiated curatorial projects such as Mozart’s Sex (1991, Artexpo, Bucharest) or Nomadic (1994, Sao Paolo Biennale) and participated in major international events: the Istanbul Biennale, Manifesta 1 Kunsthal Rotterdam (1996), the Berlin Biennale (1998), the Venice Biennale – Aperto (1993) and the Romanian Pavilion (1999). They exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (1995), Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (1996), the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia (1996), Akademie Schloss Solitude (1998), etc.
The participation of the subREAL group in most exhibitions dedicated to contemporary art in Central and Eastern Europe between 1997 and 2003 – Bukarest nach ’89. Kunst in Rumänien heute, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst in Aachen (1997), After The Wall, Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1999), L’Autre moitié de l’Europe, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris and 2000+. Arteast Collection, Moderna Galerja in Ljubljana (2000), In Search of Balkania, Neue Galerie in Graz (2002) or Blood and Honey, Sammlung Essl – Kunst der Gegenwart in Vienna (2003) – brings into bold relief the part played by the artistic duo in the reconfiguration of the international contemporary art world after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
MNAC parteners: BRD Groupe Societe Generale, illy Sponsors: Murfatlar, Chocolat, Chainsaw Media partners: Igloo Habitat & arhitectura, Zeppelin, 24Fun, Radio France Internationale, feeder.ro, Cocor MediaChannel
One of the three parts of the work W*ESTERN by Romanian artist Olivia Mihaltianu. The three super 8 films have been showing in turn at ‘Salonul de Proiecte’ in Bucharest, part of the exhibition ‘From the Backstage’.
Olivia Mihaltianu’s reflection in these works comes from an ironical take to the genre of Spaghetti Westerns and deals ‘with recent developments established on the international art scene: the constant reconfiguration of the power-interrelationship between artists, curators and institutions, seen as a catalyst for a new cultural and socio-economic environment.’
In the show at Salonul de Proiecte, Olivia creates an exhibition space faithfully re-creating a cinema theater, with two rows of its red velvet seats and a black curtain, the green-lit Exit sign and the accompanying movie posters featuring the artist posing in cowboy boots and a super 8 camera or a piece of pastry as a weapon.
The exhibition ‘From the Backstage’ (22 June- 5 August 2012) is the second resulted from an open call launched by the gallery in July 2011, a group show which brings together new works by Romanian artists: Biroul de Cercetari Melodramatice (The Bureau for Melodramatic Research), Stefan Tiron, Simina Guga and Irina Costache, Tatiana Fiodorova, Bogdan Girbovan, Mihaela Michailov & Paul Dunca, Olivia Mihaltianu, Ales Niculescu, Stefan Sava.
‘In Stage and Twist a child drinks a mixture of Pepsi and Coca-Cola, a giant puzzle is played by two half-naked young men, an iconic work byYves Klein is re-enacted with the artist leaping into the void and hitting the pavement below and a group of workers assemble a monumental sculpture out of scaffolding in an empty field. In all of these works history is both re-staged and twisted as a means to engage critically with the present day.
This exhibition brings together the Polish artist Anna Molska and the Romanian artist Ciprian Mureşan for their first museum exhibition in London. Molska and Mureşan draw upon historical events and art history to highlight the power of the collective experience in the post-communism era. Both artists question social mechanisms and the construction of individuality. Rather than glorifying the past, each work cheerfully accepts the uncountable failures and shortcomings of contemporary society.
The exhibition is curated by Capucine Perrot, Tate Modern and Magda Lipska, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.’
The Balkans were fashionable in 2003, everyone knows that
But what is the fashionable art now? Possibly still hanging somewhere in-betweens, as consensual mellow political art of Europe and sharp activist art of Eastern Europe, depending on the respective curatorial or cultural framing.
Full forward text by Ruxandra Balaci from the magazine Artelier no.8/ 2003 via mnac
“ARTELIER 8 and the pros and cons of Balkanness
Foreword by Ruxandra Balaci
Why are ‘the Balkans’ so (or still) fashionable at the moment? Why do we all keep switching on Balkan issues…Will the “Balkan-trend” subside after the sudden spread of an overwhelming interest in it…? What will be next fashionable item after all these Balkan scenarios to spend euros on? 'Balkanness' (as belonging to a certain area and to a certain range of mentalities) is, again, under definition. It is of certain actuality the political correctness of questioning Balkanness vs. globalization vs. 'europenization' - although globalization implies the nightmare of losing cultural identities. Identification is, in a way, enclosing, in another way, disclosing…but what about neo-identification, re-identification, self-identification… and so on? Do new generations (so globalized) feel the Balkanness anymore? Do they try to escape this temperamental and somewhat neurotic, bordered reality? Young auto-exiles from Balkan countries - enacting a real exodus -, do they still identify themselves with this area, or do they mostly want to escape their ephemeral Balkan capitals, or at least to act as nomads, in between… For them national vs. international is less than an issue… Is the West trying to culturally (and not only) colonialize/ integrate the Balkans and the ‘Wild East’? Or to ‘implement’ a kind of new, subtle “Kultur-rassismus” after the fall of the Iron Curtain, as my Balkan friend Uros Djuric put it? Or is it just a friendly approach to meet differentia? To meet the Other? It seems that we have to assume this label… to be ‘ghetto-ized’ and wait to be discovered as Europe enlarged… we are a territory that should be explored. That should be researched upon. That should be Westernally contextualized. (The Balkans are interesting only if (re-)discovered by Western curators or theorists - of course always with the backstage, more or less overt help of Eastern curators and theorists.) The Balkan information is ingurgitated and digested mainly through or with Western filters and labels. Most of the time, searching for and buying mainly clichés, (everybody is seemingly astonished and disappointed that Balkan art is sometimes so ‘similar to European art’), curators invent bazaar-like displays, meeting the expectations of their audiences. Westerners are PR-izing and advertising the Balkans and in a way we feel ashamed, in a way grateful… Important is the corpus of information and analysis built up about the Balkans, under the umbrella and within the context of Western research, a warrant of earnest and efficient effort. Paternalist attitudes towards Easterners are also commonplace. The Other is considered - and obviously it is from a certain point of view -, clearly inferior…But this is euphemistically hidden under cynically polite formulas… (Sometimes they do force one to become a nationalist, à rebours). Do Balkan “patterns” & “clichés” still stand for real common ground or are they useful mainly for the cultural discourse of nowadays Western approaches? (Helpful in mentally appropriating the Other, before physically doing so). Balkanness has been already transcended by globalization or by absorption into the cynically euphemistic label “former Eastern block”… Histories and temperamental peculiarities are concocted in the mythical melting pot of the Balkans, this dark side, mysterious, incongruous - an ethnic and religious puzzle-like area of Europe… Intriguing and exciting, for the outsider, the real vs. the virtual Balkans is an issue to be re-clarified, sorting among many hypotheses, metaphors and bits of folklore. Bound/less Borders, Balkania (In Search of), Blood & Honey, In Den Schluchten des Balkan, Cosmopolis… A similar discourse was formerly extended to all Eastern European countries, (but not anymore as the Central Northern part of it seems to have more or less reached the Western Europeans standard - remember After The Wall, L’autre moitié de l’Europe?). That discourse belongs to the past, as those areas are now peacefully gliding toward globalization. The Balkan spirit so much spoken about seems to be standing still at the dawn of 21st century, as the ultimate outpost of the dark/ deep Europe… Stability/ permanence/ pacification, being imposed from outside (in fact this sudden spread of interest toward the Balkans is mainly sustained and financed by the Stability Pact), as opposed to instability/ transience/ the ephemeral/ uncertainty of inside. Idiosyncrasy and destabilization (as inner behaviors) are to be studied, concluded upon and possibly eradicated for a future pacific co-existence. To be labeled ‘Balkan’ artist - a label imposed by a ‘neo-colonial’ wave of curators -, and accept it implies self-irony, painful contradictions and acceptance of complexes that permeate the subconscious… (“The surest sign of Balkan identity is the resistance to Balkan identity”, someone said.) Visual culture products - intended rather like a complex venue for awareness and interpretation of national/ regional identity, through which people come into consciousness as members of a particular community, are still insufficient in the majority of Balkan countries (after years devoted to bad taste and thus, according to Kristeva, lacking the coagulation of civic identity) and seem to need implementation from civilizations of the visual coming from Outside. Balkan search/ find/ and finally press Enter by the Outside user. In counterbalance, there is a spread of ‘against’ stances/ to subvert/ to shut down the Balkan label by Inside users. Boundlessly bounded/ still exotic/ a black hole to be explored/ an European gap? Or a positive Alterity/ as a source (seemingly freshly discovered) of European culture…? The Balkans are considered the classical bridge between East and West, but also, a kind of paradoxical periphery of both… a hybrid. Seclusion and exposure to dramatic events made considering the future more positively a strange utopia. But we’re still hoping that maybe not… that maybe we hide a lot of potentialities… (Balancing between nostalgic hope and defeatism is maybe another cliché to be explored here). One thing is sure: the Balkan second-hand European area is producing a first-hand intello network striving to improve their condition… and trying hard to escape the second-hand complexes and fatalisms by establishing contacts with first-hand intello networks of the first-hand Western European area… Are we witnessing the last attempts to define the monster next door, the gap, the borderline, to draw the line before finally integrating and melting with… toward a NEW Europe…(Another cliché. But clichés is what we really have the more reliable and sure… and relaxing and useful, and in clichés we want to invest and in clichés we trust and we can sell also, much easier, clichés). For Westerners it is an actual task to approach and afterwards maybe cautiously appropriate the dangerous zone, the derelict zone, the ugly zone (see Kristeva’s geo-aesthetics), the suffering zone (Europe’s still suffering zone). Waiting to be diagnosed and cured. Or to be taken advantage of, because weak. To normalize it or better to preserve it like an exotic/ abnormal item, still suscitating the zoo effect, as the still mysterious side of Europe… to be ‘clarified’ (another cliché) and helped to (re)-emerge. Dismantling the myth or feeding the myth? What would be more suitable? Maintaining differentia or striving towards an osmotic Europe seems to be, at the moment, the Hamletian question of new geopolitics. Because, paradoxically, everybody is tempted to do both…from Inside and from Outside.
'Ghetto'-ized or not, 'cliché-ized' or not, approaching this area is surely approaching another valuable area of art.”
”(…) because the work of art has something independent, insolent, offensive, and aggressive, especially when it’s finished–not while it’s being made. That’s why I prefer performances–live art–because they are experienced in the present moment, like life itself.” (my emphasis) I wonder if this insolence and offensiveness could be the stultification pedagogy of the art as ‘telling’ of a truth, the curator as ‘teller’ of a story and the artist as ‘maker’ of work embedded with these telling and seeing properties.
It is so interesting to note how a lot of my peer first year PhD students have been either taking or planning to take a trip ‘back home’ mainly for research purposes. They have contacted people in their country, set up meetings or are planning to dig up the archives. I am no different: my next trip home will double as a research journey. There is a specific feeling or rather, a mixture of feelings between going home and going to where you know or hope to get more insight for your work. As I was keeping an eye on the events, I have two flagged specifically for research purposes:
Marturii XXI- Revizitand Trecutul (Confessions XXI- Revisiting the Past), a collection of filmed interviews with artists, critics and art historians who played a major part on the Romanian artistic scene before 1989. Showing in Bucharest at PLATFORMA, a MNAC (National Museum of Contemporary Art) project space.
An issue I have been trying to think of in the past moths has to do with the connections between three concepts (art, politics and event) and three French philosophers (Jacques Ranciere, Gilles Deleuze and Alain Badiou). It seems that in scholarly debates it has been an open question at least since the beginning of the century- when after the 90s is was no longer unpopular/not cool to engage Deleuze and when Ranciere and Badiou, being translated more and more, were revealing their interest for engaging with the figures of their theoretical ‘upbringing’ of the May ‘68 descent to Anglo-American audiences.
To find the logic and sense the tensions of this debate, I have of course resorted to the original sources: Ranciere’s Dissagreement and Dissensus, Deleuze’s Logic of Sense, Francis Bacon and What is Philosophy? (with Guattari) and Badiou’s Metapolitics and Handbook of Inaesthetics (in French when possible). I have mapped out concepts and laid out diagrams and started to get what I believe is a preliminary and starting direction.
But as it happens, you sometimes stumble upon a source like this, which is all so clearly presented in a few introductory paragraphs that helps move forward your thought with more certainty that the process is not that far from unveiling itself even further in the form you have yourself only intuitively mapped.
The 2012 Biennale has been announced and the Press Release reads:
"Within the current context of the shifting nature of politics, economics, and culture—conditions that are increasingly referred to as "precarious" times—artists often have to negotiate risky positions, contested territories, or situations in which cultural activity interacts with, or provides a counterpoint to, conditions of flux. Bucharest Biennale 5 profiles the work of artists whose agency lies less in overt statements, but rather in investigative, indirect, or informal strategies that possess their own kind of power."
"Often, artists also circumvent or negotiate existing systems that they find questionable or challenging. Their methodology reflects a practice that is evolving, dynamic and responsive, something that is essential for situations that change quickly or are not yet fully understood. For some artists this means working together, for others, it means developing tactics that are distinctly individual and informal. The deployment of informal approaches is resonant in a city such as Bucharest, among others, where more formal structures do not necessarily appear to support the most experimental art practice."
"Ileana Pintilie is an art historian and art critic. Her books includeActionism in Romania During the Communist Era and the volumeMitteleuropäische Paradigmen in Südosteuropa. Ein Beitrag zur Kultur der Deutschen im Banat (with Roxana Nubert). She has also published many articles and essays on contemporary art in Romania and abroad in international catalogues and volumes. In 1994 Pintilie won a National Award for Art Criticism. “
Ileana Pintilie is conjured by the end of a decade to create a cartography of Romanian performance art from as early as the 1970s until the end of the 1990s.
The history of performance art is linked very closely to that of moving image art, with artists like Ion Grigorescu or Alexandru Antik working with both media throughout their careers, sometime to document their performances, other times to produce new work from a filmed performance which is intended to become a moving image artwork.
Nevertheless, another point of intersection in interest with my research is the relation between the body in performance and that in film and how this relation is negotiated between the artist and the audience, the public and the private, the social and the political.
How do you get away from thinking Socialist Realist art outside the concept of ‘trauma’; how do you think the ‘neos’ in relation to the ‘posts’ in art and politics in forms of what can be called ‘Neo-Socialist-Realism or, how Dr. Klara Kemp-Welch puts it, ‘Who’s Afraid of Neo-Socialist-Realism?’
The work resonated strongly to a recent reading I did on ‘Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition’ (Ed. Ales Erjavec), where the ‘Posts’ of the past seem to become the ‘Neo’ forms of work of the present, and there is yet no clear signage of what the future will be labeled as.
Dr. Klara Kemp-Welch makes note in her article of the death of the avant-gardes, just as Martin Jay writes in the Forewood to the ‘Postmodernism’ book about the short-lived ‘Postsocialist’ avant-gardes:
"As in the case of the classical avant-gardes, once their subversive moment was at an end, something intangible was gone, and they, too, passed into history-or sometimes were absorbed into the international art market." (Martin Jay, 2003, xvii)
At the end of her article, Dr. Kemp-Welsch concludes:
"The capitalist culture industry has undoubtedly by now swallowed up and institutionalized the historical avant-garde. But it has had more trouble digesting Socialist Realism. This most despised of styles has proved harder to disarm (…)"
In the art market of a present Neoliberalism, do these works that could be named Neo-Socialist-Realist just push the Ostalgic demand of the Western art market for a ‘re-orientalized, re-erotocized’ (Groys, 2000) to their limits? Is this an actual act of dissonance or dissensus with the market or is it the beginning of a creation of a different sort of demand? In other words, is it abiding the free market rules, thus could be read as a form of ‘externality’ in this exchange or can it be hijacked to become a supplement or a voice for a ‘part with no part’ (Ranciere, 2010)?