Archive for September, 2008

Where is the (Re)Discovered Vitality of Romanian Art?

I must admit to having extremely mixed feelings when it comes to Romania, Romanians, Romanian language, Romanian culture and everything that can be derived, extracted or reduced to the aforesaid root: the country I was born in. Why, well, first I finally managed to mobilize myself and everyone I could convince, persuade, pressure to go to an exhibition at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Stockholm titled the Archive of Pain. And frankly speaking I was far from being impressed, rather disappointed. It seemed to be a sort of nostalgic remembering of “those times”, even when it came to an installation called Dacia 1300 My Generation; or the testimonies of several people ( three times 135 minutes of confessions, memories, nostalgia, etc). What I liked most was the book about communism, with all sorts of ingenious devices to show us how churches were moved from one place to another, or how ugly tall blocks replaces small houses.

However, what I strongly disliked was the very annoying and persistent feeling that this communism-thing has happened only in Bucharest. I got the feeling that communism-in-Romania equals communism-in-Bucharest, and since I tried to resist hyper-centralizing-temptations, be them even in art, I was disappointed. I though the whole thing would allow at least from time to time for other voices, from the periphery, from the corners, from the sides. This left me with a strong longing for a happening à la the-pink-pony-with-a-black-swastika-on-its-ass kind of thing, like at the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York (the street-art exhibition was titled “Freedom for Lazy People” and it was super!).

What is all this fuss with the-pink-pony-with-a-black-swastika-on-its-ass? It all began with a pink pony with a swastika on its ass, just like that. It was an attempt to shatter intellectual monolithic thinking, cast doubt and open eyes; some argue it succeeded, some say that it was an unnecessary move. Others, the usual protectors of the good moral furiously declared that Romania’s beauty, virginity and innocence (you may as well choose all synonyms from the family of purity-obsessive-thinking and put them here) has been tarnished. Even though, I would personally argue, when you get sick and tired of so much purity and undiscovered virtues it is necessary to look at the object of your analysis from all angles, even those harder to the palate.

And jumping from this to totally other things, but keeping with the air of sulfur and blasphemy,  since it seems to be rather in this season, I want to write a brief Laudatio to a great artist who managed to escape from the straitjacket of dogmatic boredom, sacred and unquestioned. His name is Benedek Levente, and he has this great blog, and if he comes to exhibit in Stockholm, that would be just great! His latest “Euromaniac” exhibition is simply breathtaking for both those who appreciate this kind of stuff, and those who will simply declare it evil. What is the fault of the artist? Well, the main accusation is that he managed to transpose in art what millions and millions of Romanians (but my guess is that this is valid everywhere in the world) are fed with when turning on the TV. The images thus impregnated on his memory are juxtaposed over the holy national emblems; the result tells a story about a country that survived communism and the prolonged transition, only to become a transit station for immigration to the West, a place of quotidian violence, nudity and obscenity. I would say that it sounds like an almost universal message. If you are not convinced take your time and visit this guys blog and then tell me what you think:

Has Romanian Art (Re)Discovered Its Vitality?

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Sunday, September 14th, 2008 Miscellaneous No Comments