Opens 27th November 2014 Mobile Biennial, National Museum of Contemporary art, Bucharest, Romania
October 2014 Utopia School, Flux factory and Basekamp, New York, NY, USA
16th August, Art residence Galichnik, Macedonia
My text Between Heresy and Revolution has just been printed in the new edition of the Pavilion Journal
NOW&HERE = EVERYWHERE is an international Quantum Filmmaking project, participatory mobile phone cinema, celebrating cultural diversity, in which you can collaborate with your mobile phone.
unce that MOMENT 9 will be taking place on:
Saturday 7 June 2014 at 13:00 Bst (London Time)
Mobile Biennale 1: The Tour of Oltenia in 7 days
28.07 – 03.08 2014
A project Mobile Biennale 1– The Tour of Oltenia in 7 Days, that will take place between the 28th of July and the 3rd of August 2014, the following participants have been selected:
Mihai Barabancea (b. 1983) graduated the Photo-Video department of the National Art University of
Bucharest. His projects in the field of photography focus on subjects such as: the socially excluded
communities and the values of today’s society in relation to its ”margins” – for instance old and lonely
people, homeless children or people with disabilities. The exhibitions he participated in include: 2013 –
While the glory of the world fades away, Spațiul Platforma, MNAC Anexa, Bucharest; Barabancea & Borduz,
Calina Gallery.Space for Contemporary Art, Timișoara;
Anetta Mona Chisa (b. 1975) works together with Lucia Tkáčová starting with the year 2000 and lives in
Prague and Berlin. The artistic duo Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkáčová represented Romania at the Venice
Biennale, the 54th edition, in 2011, and participated in numerous exhibitions, among which we cite: 2013 –
a Lack, A touch, an aTavisM, a notiCe, Hit gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia (solo); The Second Lore, CUAC -
contemporary art, Salt Lake City, United States; Minimal Compact, Christine Koenig gallery, Vienna, Austria; 2012 – Either Way, We Lose, Sorry we’re closed, Brussels, Belgium (solo); 2011 – Material Culture / Things in our Hands, Christine Koenig Gallery, Vienna, Austria (solo), The Global Contemporary, ZKM / Museum fue Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe, Germany.
Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield is artist-philosopher and Professor of Theory and Philosophy of Art. Author of
books ‘Cryptochromism’ (2009) and ‘Materiality of Theory’ (2011); and of numerous book chapters, journal articles and catalogue essays. International Editorial Board of ‘Art & Research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts, and Methods’. Have given numerous performative readings in gallery and museum spaces. Collaborator with artists Ian Kiaer, Gregory Maass, Benoit Maire, Haroon Mirza, and Trine Marie Riel. Curator with Amanda Wilkinson, Wilkinson Gallery London, of a number of exhibitions and projects. Founding Executive Board member of Jan van Eyck Alumni Association.
David Goldenberg (b. 1956) is a London based artist. In 2014 he will publish a book of recent texts and
projects examining “Post Autonomy“. He was exhibited in The Caspian Biennial Convention; collateral
exhibition at Venice Biennial, 2013; 1st Land Art Biennial of Mongolia; 10th Istanbul Biennial; ICA
Philadelphia; Shedhalle, Zurich; 6th Sharjah Biennial; Tate Modern; ICA London, UK and many more.
Between 2010 and 2011 he produced 10 programs for Resonance FM radio examining Post Autonomy. He
lives and works in London.
Delia Popa (b.1980, Bucharest) studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Goldsmiths
College, University of London. Her most recent exhibitions include: 2013 – Anca Munteanu Rîmnic and Delia Popa, Salonul de proiecte, Anexa MNAC, Bucharest; Good Girls: Memory/Desire/Power, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, 2012 – Chelen Amenca (with Ellen Rothenberg), Contemporary Art Gallery, Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, 2011 – The Blind Men and the Elephant, Video-Screening (with Diana Sandor), Raum für Projektion, General Public, Berlin, Germany
Raluca Popa (b. 1979) earned her MA in Fine Art from Byam Shaw, Central Saint Martins College of art &
Design, UAL and graduated The Art and Design University of Cluj-Napoca. Her most recent exhibitions are:
2014 – And Yet There Was Art!, Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria, 2012 – What We Destroy and Celebrate at the Same Time, Salonul de Proiecte, MNAC Anexa, Bucharest; O Que Acontece Depois, Centro Cultural do Cartaxo, Portugal, 2011 – Crossover, Central Saint Martins, London, UK; Glory Hole, Elthorne Road, Archway, London, UK; 013, Concourse Gallery, Archway, London, UK.
Kate Sutton (born 1982) is an art critic and curator. Studied at the San Francisco Art Institute and
Standford University. Since 2008, has worked as the Associate Curator of BAIBAKOV art projects in Moscow, colllaborates with various cultural institutions like Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California, Museum of Nonconformist Art, St. Petersburg. Contributs regularly to Art Forum, among other publications. In 2013, was awarded a Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant from the Warhol Foundation.
Fluvial Station, Cetate PortDear Friends,
The presentation of international and Romanian participants at the first edition of the Mobile Biennale „The Tour of Oltenia in 7 Days” will take place on Monday, 28 July, at 9 pm, in Cetate Port (port on the Danube river, Cetate commune, Dolj county.With many representatives of different contemporary art institutional areas and of different artistic behaviours, the event is based on information and details. Its aim is to present the coordinates of an artistic microclimate which is to develop and grow during the follwing seven days and where the participants’ reactions (both individual and group attitudes) towards the environment reveal the actions they perform within the space of an artistic work.The Mobile Biennale is an opera in which mobility and interaction develop in a previously determined space or territory. The coagulant element of the mobile biennale concept consists in its mobility. Perceived as materiality, the mobility gains its shape according to the space-time coordinates that appoints it, while the content is generated by the participants’ interaction and disparity which establish a relationship to the world.
The project is supported by ERSTE Foundation
The main partner is „Craiova – Cultural Capital of Europe in 2021” Association
Art Forum 08.17.14
“ALL OF THESE BIENNALES boast of being a forum for the exchange of ideas,” curator Adrian Bojenoiu, cofounder of the Mobile Biennale, reasoned over a Bellini and a tomato-mozzarella skewer on the steps of the Museum of Fine Arts in Craiova, Romania. “We thought to ourselves, if that’s the case, why not just put the emphasis on the ideas? Why even bother with the exhibition part?”
We had gathered to toast the launch of the Mobile Biennale, whose “emphasis on ideas” translated to packing a bus with around thirty potential idea-havers, -sharers, and -negaters for a seven-day tour across what some may see as the armpit—albeit, a well-formed, beautifully-groomed, entirely desirable armpit—of Romania. The biennial’s founders, Bojenoiu and artist Alexandru Niculescu, had earned street-cred as the minds behind Club Electroputere, an artist-run space based in the old cultural center of a factory that once produced locomotive engines. While many artists may have decamped to Bucharest or Cluj, Bojenoiu and Niculescu chose to double down in Craiova, a town whose substantial artistic legacy (it is home to some of the only early Constantin Brâncuşi works to remain in the country) is being mined for a revival of sorts, thanks to the race for the 2021 European Cultural Capital. According to Vlad Drăgulescu, director of Craiova’s campaign, “Everyone writes off Craiova as the underdog in the competition”—which includes frontrunner Cluj, Home of Painters—“but if you look at the criteria, category by category, Craiova comes out on top. Especially when you add the surrounding area of Oltenia!”
The Mobile Biennale would take a closer look (and a gazillion Instagrams) of what Drăgulescu was talking about during its weeklong exploration of Oltenia. Club Electroputere had tried a beta version of the trip two years ago that attempted to cover all of Romania. “That was way too intense,” Niculescu confessed. “Romania is a big country.” Oltenia was a much more accommodating size, with a stunning mix of topographies—from the lush, boat-lined bays of the Danube, to the watermelon-bearing flatlands, to the pristine Transalpina, running along the ridges of the Carpathian mountains—all within a two- or three-hour drive.
The biennial’s championing of “Mobility” may have de-emphasized place conceptually, but that didn’t mean the participants—all either invited or selected through an open call—didn’t have every opportunity to play the tourist. The itinerary included a photo op at the Iron Gate II (which sounds straight out of Westeros, but is in fact a hydroelectric dam); a pilgrimage to Brâncuşi’s Endless Column at Târgu Jiu; and a brief respite at a chalet in Turcinești, where Niculescu and Dan Vezentan’s Cannibal Disco party featured a human-shaped mirror-ball roasting on a spit over red neon “flames.” Along the way, there were monasteries, mammoth caves, and hot springs galore, not to mention—crucially—outposts to replenish supplies of alcohol and cigarettes. And yes, there were the nightly presentations, more or less formal, though the real conversations raged over bottles of red wine and roadside tuică. Topics skittered from what it might mean for an artist to take responsibility for his or her work to whether an artist could ever effectively comment on another culture to who was left behind on a mountaintop (a conversation I missed, being one of the ones left behind on a mountaintop).
The first major stop was Port Cultural Cetate, a former agricultural port on the Danube, recently transformed into a lovely holiday haven and artist residency by its new owner, celebrity dissident, poet, writer, and sometime-vintner Mircea Dinescu. “The whole country has seen this house,” curator Raluca Velisar explained. “Dinescu hosts a talk show where he invites guests here and cooks a meal for them.” “Like Martha Stewart?” ventured Vilnius-based curator Juste Jonutyte. Velisar responded with a wry smile: “Not exactly.”
That evening would culminate in a midnight buffet served dockside to the sounds of Impex, a trio fronted by Dinescu’s violin-wielding son, Andrei Dinescu, who himself is best known as a member of Steaua de Mare (“Starfish”), popular for their electronica spin on Romanian folk music. First, however, we paid call to Cetate Arts Danube, the neighboring artist residency program launched by Joana Grevers, collector, patron, and founder of Bucharest’s 418 Gallery. The sprawling estate had belonged to her family before Communism. By the time Grevers was able to buy it back, many of the buildings had fallen into disrepair, including the magnificent stables, whose collapsed roof had allowed plants to colonize the building. Still, Grevers had managed to retool a hulking barn as the “Cetate Atelier la Dunăre,” a studio space for residents, and the property’s small chapel had been completely redesigned by architect Alexandra Afrăsinei. “I think it’s always best to start with a chapel,” Grevers mused, as we sipped a local rosé wine beside the lavender fields. (She could have said anything at that moment, and I would have agreed.)
The following evening we settled into a cabana outside Eșelnița, where, with a little ingenuity and a lot of extension cords, we were able to set up a riverside screening of The Ister, a 2004 film by David Barisonand Daniel Ross that travels up the Danube while revisiting Martin Heidegger’s interpretation of Hölderlin’s hymn to the river. As Bernard Stiegler voiced his thoughts on Prometheus on screen, across the river, Zeus himself decided to weigh in, unleashing one of the most stunning thunderstorms any of us had ever witnessed. The lightning began over the Serbian highlands, but it soon swept to the Romanian side of the river, eventually drenching the hotel with a downpour as mighty as the light show.
In the morning we would learn that the storm had flooded a large part of the region, leaving some of our route blocked. No matter. While participants were dutifully awed by official stops like the Tismana Monastery or the Rovinari open pit mines, we were just as content with spontaneous stops for cigarettes and alcohol. Smoke breaks were held in the strangest of places—on a speedboat in the Danube, in a cave outside the spa town of Herculane. “You know what they say,” chided architect Thomas Tsang. “When in Romania…”
Left: Steaua de Mare (“Starfish”) practices at Port Cultural Cetate. Right: Cannibal Disco party in Turcineşti.
Rumored to have been founded in 102 AD by Emperor Traian—responsible for the “Roman” in Romania—over the centuries, Herculane has hosted the elites of myriad empires, from Marcus Aurelius to Franz Joseph I and his wife Elizabeth (immortalized on film as Princess Sisi). During the land grabs of privatization, many of the town’s more jaw-dropping Austrian Baroque mansions were snapped up on the cheap, and now belong to people who can’t afford to maintain them, but refuse to let them go. “I mean, you could sink a million dollars into fixing up one of these buildings, but then you would never see that money again, so long as the rest of the infrastructure isn’t here,” illustrator Alex Neagu lamented. Perhaps the most impressive building of all, the Imperial Austrian Baths, sits boarded up, its badly-patched windows offering glimpses of the grandeur (marble tiles, gilded chandeliers, indoor fountains, etc) within, Upon discovering a door with its bottom panel kicked in, we couldn’t resist a little bathhouse B&E. Inside, the long corridors were lined with stall after stall of private baths where emperors could come to soak their troubles away. “Talk about a spot for a biennial,” Bojenoiu cooed, with an appreciative whistle.
On the last day, we fudged the rules slightly, slipping out of Oltenia and into the neighboring region of Transylvania to visit the home of artists Lia and Dan Perjovschi in Sibiu. Lia greeted us with platters of local delicacies and her home-brewed wonder tea, before indulging us with a tour of her archives, which she has organized by shelves: “The Earth, The Body, Science, Culture, The Universe…” The stacks of books were propped up by jars full of such museum store finds as a magnetic Obama finger puppet and a breath spray promising to help users “Understand Modern Art.” (“I don’t really care for that kind of irony,” she admitted, “but I thought it was important to acknowledge that it’s out there.”) The artist maintained that she is more strategic in her acquisitions than her “collector” husband. “Dan just wants to buy any and everything. I have to be more selective. I never buy anything above the budget of fifty euros,” Lia glanced affectionately at her spouse. “Dan’s more successful; he doesn’t have to think about budgets.”
Left: Artist Mihai Barabancea at a stop along the Transalpina. Right: Artist Jonas Lozoraitis at a stop along the Transalpina.
Lia envisions her archive functioning as a Knowledge Museum. “Knowledge is expensive, but knowledge is also survival,”she continued. “Someone asked me if I thought we had landed on the moon. Did we actually land? I believe we did. But if we didn’t…? What does it matter, whether or not we actually went there?”
One place the Perjovschis won’t be going is the MNAC, Bucharest’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which in 2004 relocated to the gargantuan Palace of the Parliament, the world’s second-largest administrative building (after the Pentagon), as well as its heaviest. “It’s like we’re in a village, where there’s one big house, and you make your parties, your funerals, and your politics all under the same roof,” Lia snapped. “Why the provincialism? We can afford to build these things their own buildings!”
Half the group had to catch the train to Bucharest, but Dan led the stragglers on a walking tour of shamelessly charming Sibiu, which already had its turn as Cultural Capital in 2007. Over a stop for—what else?—cigarettes and alcohol, talk turned to the next Mobile Biennale, which is considering a tour of Hong Kong. Even more pressingly, the MNAC had offered the Biennale an exhibition of its own this coming November. What would a biennial dedicated to ideas have to show for itself? “We’ll have to think about it,” Niculescu shrugged. And just like that, we were planning the afterparty.
Am participat, vreme de o săptămînă şi pînă în urmă cu o săptămînă (între 28 iulie şi 3 august 2014), alături de o mînă de artişti, curatori, critici, teoreticieni – oameni de artă – români şi străini din mai multe generaţii, la ceea ce s-a numit “Turul Olteniei”, prima ediţie (dar şi primul act) a ceea ce, de asemenea, s-a numit, se numeşte, îşi propune să se numească Bienala Mobilă, invenţie para-cvasi-instituţională a perechii de animatori reuniţi sub titulatura Club Electroputere (Alexandru Niculescu şi Adrian Bojenoiu).
Ultimul act al acestei excursii (care a cuprins şi a atins obiective turistice de toate categoriile, adică nu doar artistico-culturale, precum ansamblul lui Constantin Brâncuşi de la Tîrgu-Jiu, ci şi naturale, unele celebre, precum Cazanele Mari şi cele Mici ale Dunării, altele mai discrete, dar foarte spectaculoase, precum Cheile Sohodolului) s-a consumat în afara Olteniei, la Sibiu, în locuinţa-arhivă-muzeu-studio – operă de arhitectură şi operă de trăire: locuirea conştient-creatoare, deschisă, poroasă, activă, i. d. cum să locuieşti direct în lume, cum să locuieşti lumea, în transparenţă – a soţilor Lia şi Dan Perjovschi.
Or, cu buna dispoziţie ironică binecunoscută, din care i se hrăneşte, parţial, poziţionarea civic-artistică, Dan Perjovschi – gazdă desăvîrşită, care a avut grija şi generozitatea de a se gîndi să prepare o mulţime de mici sandvişuri pentru artiştii călători – nu s-a abţinut să nu ţintească exact în inima schiţei de concept a acestei “manifestări”, adică a Bienalei Mobile, mărturisindu-ne că ne urmărise “progresia” pe Facebook şi că se distrase copios de alăturarea, deloc de la sine înţeleasă, dintre ideea de bienală şi activităţile noastre de vacanţă pură.
Căci, da, ce este şi, mai ales, ce ar putea fi “Bienala Mobilă”? Doar o glumă-protocol de tip Dada (dacă e să urmăm intuiţia pratică a lui Adrian Notz, directorul stabilimentului artistic Cabaret Voltaire din Zürich, care a punctat întregul periplu cu fotografii de grup – nu vom uita prea curînd chemările-comenzile lui acolo unde te aşteptai mai puţin: “group photo!” -, practică binecunoscută, şi nu doar documentară, a avangardelor istorice)? Doar împingerea pînă la o limită post-critică, dez-încrîncenată, ne-resentimentară, veselă precum ştiinţa lui Nietzsche, a ideii de bienală de artă, atît de abuzată, pînă la deriziune, în clipa de faţă, dovadă însă, “în pozitiv”, a unui extraordinar apetit de apropriere şi de localizare extremă a unui concept global?
Ideea de bienală mobilă are, fireşte, un puternic conţinut ironic-deconstructiv-dialectic, evacuînd, parcă, tocmai arta din ideea de bienală, dar nefăcînd, în felul acesta, decît să-i critice hipertrofierea şi să-i sancţioneze abuzul inflaţionist, adică disocierea, strict actuală, a ideii de bienală de însăşi ideea de artă, bienala tinzînd să devină tot mai mult un act artistic auto-performativ, în sine, cu preţul, însă, al unei manipulări extreme a conceptului de artă şi al unei goliri de arta ca atare. După “numele artei” ca artă, numele de bienală, ca semnificant global, tinde să ia locul, ca act performativ-instituţional de sine, artei înseşi.
Asta sancţionează şi împinge la limită, pentru a o depăşi în sfîrşit, ideea de “bienală mobilă”: o instituţie nomadă, care atinge strict efemer diverse localităţi mai mult sau mai puţin umile sau cu potenţial cultural-turistic mai mult sau mai puţin însemnat, o reunire de artişti şi de “oameni de artă” în pre- şi/sau post-artă. Dacă epocala, totuşi, pînă la urmă (măcar ca simptom), “estetică relaţională” a lui Nicolas Bourriaud strîngea publicul în jurul operelor, “bienala mobilă” strînge laolaltă doar artiştii, îi pune pe drumuri, în mişcare, şi lasă total deoparte arta, lucrările, produsele: artiştii doar între ei, vacanţă de la arta care tinde să se confunde tot mai mult, sub semnul imaterialului şi al cognitivului, cu munca. Luăm vacanţă, plecăm în excursie, în “turneu” (altă idee avangardistă, aşa cum a ţinut să ne reamintească Adrian Notz), ieşim, temporar, din arta însăşi, care, mai mult sau mai puţin, le-a fost confiscată, azi, artiştilor, generalizîndu-se şi dizolvîndu-se politico-economic.
Tot mai mult, începînd să-şi regăsească ceva din moştenirea avangardistă renegată şi refuzată, arta conteporană să adînceşte, ca domeniu de reflecţie-creaţie, în proceduri şi, mai ales, protocoale şi auto-cvasi-instituţionalizări, devine creaţie procedural-instituţională de sine, încercînd să se re-pună în formă, să-şi regăsească forma părăsindu-şi formele amorului cu forţa la care este supusă, asemenea biblicului Iosif de către femeia lui Putifar, în capitalismul contemporan, capitalismul plăcerii obligatorii, al satisfacerii prin viol soft, “feminin”.
Între instituţia-artă (instituţia în locul artei) şi arta-instituţie (arta ca invenţia self-instituţională), confuzia este încă masivă (cine perfomează pe cine), şi tocmai de aceea evoluţiile trebuie împinse, discret, în direcţia cea bună, chiar dacă mai lungă şi mai anevoioasă.