Thursday, August 12, 2010

You may ask...

1. What does your banner represent?

The banner is a photograph I took this summer at the Memorial for the Victims of Communism in Sighet, Romania. The statuary bronze group by the artist Aurel Vlad is entitled "Cortege of the Sacrificial Victims" and it was presented in 1997 ; it is made up of eighteen figures, men and women, walking towards the wall where political prisoners were summarily executed during the Cold War. The original concept of the sculpture was to present people faced with a closed horizon, just as the communist dictatorship disrupted millions of human lives. I chose this image to suggest the suffering in the country's past but also to look forward, to ask what we might do with this past, how we may act in the period of transition towards a more free and just society.

2. I didn't read the rationale behind this blog. Can you break it down for us again - why are you doing this?

My first reaction would be , because I am dissatisfied with the sate of art criticism in Romania and with the insufficient information about how its cultural institutions work. I would go even so far as to say, because the Romanian art scene has never really analyzed itself post 1989, with the exception of Lia Perjovschi's Contemporary Art Archive, a non-institutionalized project. Too many brilliant initiatives have been lost or forgotten because of the lack of solidarity and collaboration between artists, institutions, cultural managers and critics. Also, an obvious reason would be the under-representation of Romanian artists in Art History, museums, publications around the world. I am trying to fill in some gaps both within and outside.

3. Why do you allocate more space to some artists/institutions/projects and less to others?

It's hard to please every reader, when some of you may already know half of what I am writing about and some are just getting introduced to the issues. I try to write more about an artist who has been overlooked in the past, than someone who is getting a lot of coverage in the international media. Some of the people/spaces I am writing about are inexistent except in archives in Romania, while some have comprehensive websites, reviews etc. So I hope that if someone/something grabs your interest you will make the extra step and visit the links I have scattered throughout the post or even better, go see the original work - and make up your own mind. I don't support the position where the authority tells people what the work conveys, as if there is a single Truth about its meaning. So I try to give you as much as I can about the context, some of my ideas, and then send you on your own exploration path.

4. What is your position between the democratic system and the communist dictatorship?

All this talk about transition from dictatorship and democracy - it seems like a big ad campaign when you're living in this country. I am in principle against returning to the failed communist regime, that is instituting communism by force; there is a resurgence of nostalgia for that period nowadays and frankly, those who want to bring Ceausescu back probably deserve their own fate. In any case it is a symptom of how the post-1989 projects have become bankrupt, both economically and ideologically. It is infinitely more difficult to go from corruption and total mistrust to an open society, and Romania is not even half-way there. I believe the 1989 Revolution was stolen from the people, and instead we got a neo-communist government for some good years and then entered a period of confusion and hysteria over integration into Europe. Even thought that's simplifying it a bit, the process of democratization has been corrupted from the start, and as a people we have not come to terms with the human rights violations during the dictatorship or the mineriads. So while I am in principle in favor or democratic society, I am suspicious of both the Romanian politicians who are blinding implementing Western ideals and of Western systems (like the IMF or EU) which seem to not care for the social but the(ir) capital.

5. How do you organize your posts? This all seems pretty random.

I chose the blog format because it allows me to react spontaneously. My posts respond to various stimuli from the media or subjective ones, from casual meetings and conversations. I never intended to write a Romanian Contemporary Art History, although I do my best to historicize, to bring context and rationale behind each presentation. It is far from being a perfect system, which is why I called the blog a Map, to suggest the project of discovery that is subjective (my process) and to bring the reader into the stories. Another great thing about the blog format is the cloud of concepts and list of art platforms floating on the right hand panel, which allows you, the reader, to structure the information based on your interests. If anything this is an ongoing art history alternative, presenting various subjective narratives, voices of different and disconnected generations and opposing aesthetic views. Thus, I hope to synchronize form with function, to describe a complex process - the dynamics of the contemporary Romanian art scene - in a concentrated, accessible and understandable format.

6. How can I get involved with what you're writing?

By reading and responding, by looking into the people, places, works of art, publications and institutions yourself, you are contributing to creating more knowledge and awareness, and basically I am happy if my blog achieves just that.

You don't have to be from or have had experience working in Romania or Eastern Europe. If you're interested in art, culture, art history, civic society - preferably in combination with one another and this geographic region- then send me an email and I will be happy to guide your interest.

Do you want to be a guest blogger for this Art Map? I am open to ideas that contrast and compare, challenge my interpretations with facts and logic, or something that you think is really relevant that you don't see on here. Just email me.

Thank you for reading, I really appreciate all your comments and questions!

Image courtesy of Dan Perjovschi.


  1. Perhaps a bit off-topic, but in a future entry you should talk about what/who you're studying at Rutgers!

  2. I'll let you know as soon as I do! Right now it's general: conceptual art from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

  3. Also, this will interest you: