Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why Romanian Art Map?

Starting in August I will be a Ph.D student at Rutgers University in the Art History Department, where I am planning to investigate the art scene in Eastern Europe (specifically Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic - but that may change) and the former Soviet Union, especially its evolution from 1945 to the present. I get asked what my area of specialization is quite a lot, and the first reaction when I mention this is that it's very narrow. Well, I actually think it's very broad because if you think of it there are a handful of authoritative texts on art produced in Eastern Europe and there is usually little documentation of artist texts, performances, objects or art spaces - and almost never in English. So one not only has to master Eastern European languages and Russian to be an expert in the field, but one has to translate back into English and make sense of the local culture for an audience that has probably little or indeed, no exposure to the specific histories, experiences and documents. So I have my work cut out for me for the next six to eight years, maybe longer.
With this in mind, I decided to start this blog to keep a virtual record of the projects generated by diverse participants in the Romanian art scene, from artists to art critics to curators and the public, in an attempt to re-examine its structure openly. The selection of material being presented is subjective and flexible and, at the same time, I hope it will be a useful springboard for anyone interested in contemporary art, art institutions and/or the Romanian social, cultural and political spheres. For this reason I chose to write in English.
This is not an authoritative presentation, but the point of view of a Romanian educated in the West trying to make sense of her home culture. In other words it is the product of living in two very different reference systems at once. This is also the position of a scholar critical of the art market, who believes the power of contemporary art lies in its potential for socio-political critique and involvement. Having said that, I am strongly in favor of those commercial spaces that support upcoming artists and singular projects, laying the scene for more conceptual endeavors.
Each blog entry will be focused on a particular space, person(s) or publication, highlighting their specific role within their social milieu and larger networks, both local and international. By choosing this structure I hope to emphasize possibilities for continuity and cooperation within a largely fragmented art scene. But to begin with, on the right-hand side of the blog, you will find an updated list of art platforms in Romania, some controversial, some independent, some commercial, some all of the above, that make-up its ever changing art and culture. Where available, I have linked the English version of the sites so they become available to a wider audience.

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