( ) Collapse, 2015, Şevket Sabancı Kültür ve Sanat Merkezi, Turgutreis
“In a technical sense the project is looking at the erosion of thinking and art under the regime of Neo-Liberalism primarily through the prism of Post Autonomy, which I no longer understand as a theory but a means to record the erosion and loss of the attributes of art and thinking leading to this historical moment – so the work is a meditation on this. It also poses a provocation if art is truly free which aspects of society is art capable of interrogating, and making transparent, which leads onto locating images for Colonialism and Globalisation, then ideas for reinventing a new institutional critical practice. But central to the work has to be how to break colonial behaviour, actions and thinking, but foremost what is art able to say today, are we able to say anything?” In many respects’s the pooling together of these fragments can be seen as a path to reimagining an Enlightenment.
Biennial website http://www.bodrumbienal.org/en/2015-biennial-artists/
1. European Promise, a project by Jochen Gertz, November 2015
2. 20th June Art against austerity, as part of the protest against austerity, London, UK
3. 2015 Spatialisation of Art, PV 21st June, CNM, National Gallery of Macedonia
4. Tolerance and forbearance 2nd International Bodrum Biennial 12th September – 12th November 2015, with Mounir Fatmi, Djawid C. Borower, Triny Prada, , Elisabeth Penker, David Mabb
Full list- http://www.bodrumbienal.org/tr/2015-bienal-sanat%C3%A7%C4%B1lar%C4%B1/
5. DEPTFORD CONVERSATIONS, Curated by Janette Parris. DEPTFORD X: London’s Contemporary Art Festival . 25 th September – 4 th October
Paul Noble, Georgina Starr, Simon Patterson, Lucy Gunning, Catherine Yass, Elizabeth Wright, Bridget Smith, Neal Tait, Sarah Dobai, Jessica Voorsanger, Brian Dawn Chalkley, Alison Jones, Ruth Maclennan, Kimathi Donkor, Judith Dean, Tony Rickaby, Cullinan Richards, Jemima Stehli, Mike Stubbs, Nicola McCartney, Jane Draper, Richard Kirwan, Sadie Murdoch, Erika Winstone, Alison Gill, Mark Dean, Arnaud Desjaurdin, Cecille Emmanuelle Borra, Robert Ellis, Kaye Donachie, Edward McCool, Lolly Batty, Steven Appleby, Marion Coutts, Karin Ruggaber, Rachael House, Dawn Mellor and Jason Oddy.
6. OUR GLOBE OUR DREAM, WHAT IF? Projecting our dream for the world, our reality in the future. MARINA MORENO & ART-E-MOTION.
7.Archive of Artists’ Publishing: BookBlast. Banner repeater. Launch Whitechapel Gallery, Late September. The exact date and location in the gallery will be posted soon.
8. October Exhibition and book publication, Chelsea school of art, London, UK [Further information to follow]
9. Project with Jan-Hendrik Pelz. [Date and further info will follow shortly]
16. New text that I assisted with for Reflektor – http://reflektor-m.de/kuenstler/text/counter-cultural-curating-the-one-night-exhibitions.
17. New article – http://www.medyaege.com/dunyaca-unlu-sanatcilar-bodrumda-bulusacak/47116/
Uros Djuric, Ines Efremova, Dijana Bogdanovska, Ilina Cholak, Pavel Pavelka, Irmak Donmez, Dilyana Stoimenova
Fitore Isufi – Koja, Maureen Bachaus, Kushtrim Zeqiri, OPA, Duygu Sezgin, Chrissie Barrows
Ana Lazarevska, Bekim Korca, Iceberg Fernandez, Jeton Muja, Maureen Bachaus, Ioana Pioaru, David Goldenberg, Brigita Antoni, Katarina Bunushevac
Celebrating 25 years of Existence of the Art colony Galichnik
In collaboration with Skopje Summer Festival (Скопско лето)
Art Colony Galicnik from the very beginning in 1990 has been following the current developments in visual arts with participation of Macedonian and above all international artists where in the ambient of the western part of Macedonia, in the Reka region, works of art are created that remain as Macedonian cultural heritage and artistic treasure. One of the characteristics of Galicnik Art Colony is that it continuously follows the current happenings in art, especially the art of new visual practices emerging in the last ten years, and is one of the few in the region and beyond where artists work in non-traditional artistic mediums i.e. they work in the so-called new media art, so it can rightly be said that this colony can carry the title multimedia art center.
The joining of the artists is well known from the period of impressionism and painting in the open – plein-air, which can be said is the precursor of the organization of the today’s art colonies. The term colony in the past (and even today in some parts of the world) is/was a gathering of people outside their territory, as a means of spreading the power of the imperialist countries… The power of the international art colonies consists of joining of artists from different parts of the world and creation of artistic and utopian state in time without political or provisional authority, governed by the ideology of creativity, where opinions, theories, work and experiences in the field of visual arts are exchanged and disseminated. Seen from a historical, geopolitical and socio-cultural aspect, Galicnik Art Colony as a projection of the authoritarian rule of the concepts and the ideas of and about art is experiencing the need for anesthetizing the world around us, which is imperative to art. The colonization of art in this regard is beneficial in our society making this art colony or workshop one of the most important socio-cultural phenomena present in Macedonia, the region and beyond.
During the last three years in Galicnik have created young artists from Macedonia (Ana Lazarevska, Dijana Bogdanovska, Ines Efremova, Ilina Cholak…), from the region; Europe and the rest of the world (Chrissie Burrows, Dilyana Stoimenova, Duygu Sezgin, Irmak Donmez, Jeton Muja, Maureen Bachaus, Pavel Pavelka, Uros Djuric etc.) in various media: conceptual photography, digital art, video, performance, comic book… where artists guided by their conceptual vocation have left works which enrich the fund and the production of works of art of the contemporary visual artistic expression in Macedonia.
The group show Dispositions in Timer and Space has now been extended until June.
BÜRO WELTAUSSTELLUNG Stiege 1 / Mezzanin
& nach Vereinbarung
“Revolution and Heresy”
“Since I will be discussing, throughout this text, the term Post Autonomy [I will use the abbreviation PA for Post Autonomy], which is probably unfamiliar to many peo- ple, I need to provide a basic genealogy and definition. At this point, all I want to say is that the term was invented in the 1970s in response to Barthes’ ”The Death of the Author” and revived in the 1990s as an alternative term for and critique of Post Modernism. Several authors inter- pret the term Post Autonomy to signal “after art”, or “the end” or “completion of Autonomy”.”
David Goldenberg, Between Revolution and Heresy, 2014
I am participating in Jochen Gertz Square of the European promise
Banner Repeater and Hackney Archives
invite you to a
Borough of Hackney Artists’ Publishing exhibition.
opening night: Thursday 5th Feb 6-8pm until April 25th
Please join us for Activating the Archive: an exhibition of Artists’ Publishing in the borough of Hackney, at Hackney Archives on Thursday 5th February from 6-8pm.
Banner Repeater has been working with Hackney Archives to promote the richness of Artists’ publishing across the borough. The project aims to provide a temporary platform to raise the visibility of publishing as an art form, and is part of a broader aim to introduce Artists’ Publishing within the network of Hackney Libraries.
Hackney Archives is the recognised repository for the Borough history and its research. This service preserves the Borough’s historic records and makes them accessible for people to research and learn from. Hackney Archives also collects and records information relating to past and current activity in the borough. Activating the Archive has provided Hackney Archives with the opportunity to identify local, contemporary work with a view of adding this work into the archives and to ensure its contribution to the Borough’s creative heritage.
The Activating the Archive exhibition opens on Thursday 5th February at Hackney Archives, with a launch event from 6pm until 8pm. The exhibition features works from local artists. The exhibition is accessible during the public opening hours of Hackney Archives, located on the second floor of CLR James Library, Dalston. Many of the works can be handled to allow the visitor to explore this medium at its best. The works collectively go some way in representing a broad range of artistic practices that engage with the publishing process, including Artists, Artist-led groups, collectives, and independent publishers working with Artists.
The exhibition will be on display from 5th February until April 25th (please note there is a scheduled period of closure at Hackney Archives between February 14th until the 2nd March).
Supported by Arts Council England.
The exhibition has been extended to May
|WM homepage > Cities > whitehot London
Post Autonomy: Simina Neagu Interviews David Goldenberg
By SIMINA NEAGU, NOV. 2014
David Goldenberg’s complex practice, focusing on the concept of Post-Autonomy and often employing participatory practices, poses ambitious questions on the future of art, thinking and language. And by investigating the geopolitics of biennials, David Goldenberg manages to shed light on a problematic, yet engaging set of inquiries. We set out to discuss the finer details of his ongoing work, whose structure is provided by the methodology of artistic research and a constant interest in collaboration.
Simina Neagu: Why a new language? What is it about the framework of art that prevents new development?
David Goldenberg: To answer your first point, images of the container, the route for a Mobile Biennial and ideas for selecting information on Biennials that made up the installation for Venice were elements taken from the exhibition I staged in Milan in 2012, “The Scenarios of Post Autonomy”.
We don’t have language, nor thinking. Any discussion of a new language and discovering a language refers explicitly, on the artistic level, to the narrative described by the scheme of Post Autonomy, which indicates an end point in the trajectory of art as a signal for its collapse and reimagining, and this describes precisely the collapse of language and thinking and its rediscovery. This can appear reactionary and anti-artistic, but this is wrong, since PA registers neo liberalism’s and cultural capitalism’s impact on art. Given that art and language are described as an absence, this can appear uncomfortable; however, an indication of a new language is shown at the point that the collapse of art triggers a new mental image of art, language and thinking. These complexities were visualised in the installation in Venice, the title, “the transformation of art”, showing a route back into language and thinking. These observations need to be seen alongside the influence of Thomas Krens, director of Guggenheim, and his statement in the ‘90s that art doesn’t need further developments in the push to make art more accessible and global, which is outrageous and a clear indication of conservative thinking, leading to the proliferation of non critical practices and unwillingness of artists to openly engage with serious problems behind biennials and the globalisation of art. All these threads have been taken up by recent authors, who have traced the complete stripping away of existing terms and theories inherited from Post war art to define art, there are no readymade terms and criteria to define art, so whatever is happening now is highly significant and gives credibility to Post Autonomy.
Neagu: The format of the Biennial still positions itself between Nationalism & Globalisation. What is the main issue behind the format and how does PA want to change it?
Goldenberg: There is no consensus concerning the definition of what a Biennial is, but this is the main argument between Nationalism and Globalisation for breaking down the global expansionist role of Biennials. However the main problem concerns issues I have just mentioned, preventing developing art and thinking. The term “Biennial”, along with “contemporary art”, both equally obsolete, comprise the existing spatial temporal coordinates defining art. As a term, Biennial locks thinking into a restricted format, but the frustrating problem is that no other format exists, so we are forced to visualise our own. It also locks art into the function of expanding the Western art market, and this is where we do find a consensus. But if we imagine beyond the term and function as sites for art in a global context, the terms to reformulate the ontology of art intersect. Therefore, our task was how to stage a project examining these issues without replicating these mechanisms and break with these restricted forms into thinking.
Neagu: How will a Mobile Biennial propose to resolve the common criticism of a Biennial that its Global agenda overlooks a local context?
Goldenberg: We used the image of a Mobile Biennial to mentally unfix the Biennial exhibition, which allowed us to project our thinking into the concrete practicalities of touring a show to different locations and the political ideological consequences of doing this, as well as designing and organising our own biennial.
Neagu: What is the similarity between a Global shipping container industry and Global exhibitions?
Goldenberg: The Global container industry provided a very simple familiar image that allowed us to link together the container with a Biennial pavilion, gallery units, minimalist sculptures as signs of global western art, the Global circulation of art and commodities. Two images structured our thinking: the image of a container port to summarise the existing limits, non development, Non thinking, stasis, the physical limit of what is possible, set against the Container Park to visualise going beyond existing forms leading into thinking and reconfiguring art. The installation in Venice comprised two containers in our imaginary container park.
Neagu: Define Participatory Cultures?
Goldenberg: Participating cultures is a new term to embody the entry into thinking that changed Post Autonomy from its earlier limited definition into an expanded version. Existing methodologies and thinking are unable to break open the loop that traps us within the mechanisms of colonial and global expansion and non-thinking. So we need something to assist us. Participating cultures is part of this thinking revolving around how to break open this trap and locate a trigger to start the process leading into reimagining art again. This occurs through linking up with Globally distributed cultures who are in the same stage of rethinking art as ourselves, and work towards developing a new art through exchanging ideas. This seems to take art to a higher level.
Goldenberg: Yes and it revolves around recognising the 2nd effect the ideas generated, and occurred when we recontextualised the installation and issues raised in Venice to Baku, in the form of a kit for a mobile Biennial, using the design for an imaginary container park, including a model of the Venice installation. What is of interest here is how we shift from the centre of cultural power in Venice out to a country and culture who represented the first example of a participating culture, in order to engage with the actual reality of establishing a participating culture. Bypassing the idea of a participating culture to the reality and context of a participating culture and reinventing the Biennial uncovers and puts under threat principles of western modernism, its autonomy and cultural power, and brings us face to face with the realisation that what we take for granted needs to be fought for and that it is unlikely that the principles of western modernism will be retained. In other words, entering a context where we begin to actively reimagine art again completely unsettles our received understanding, generating a shock, and asks us very forcibly what we still want from art. It is here where new questions arise, moving us into the core of establishing participating cultures. What elements do we select and retain and what qualities and what criteria are used to select suitable cultures to be part of the network of Participating cultures?
Neagu: Why is collaboration an important component? And say something about the PA group.
Goldenberg: It isn’t so much collaboration, as participation, which is a methodology with its sets of problems that I have explored since the 1990’s, first as a cybernetic model, then a Systems theoretical model, and its fundamental replacement of Modernism’s terminology around the artist and art work, as a basis for breaking down hierarchies and cultural power. Participating cultures sought to reframe participatory practices after its recent appropriation by institutions. Members of the Post Autonomy group occupied points in both actual geographical space and in our imaginary map to take the mobile Biennial, a string of geo political coordinates that allowed us to test out and exchange our understanding and vocabulary for articulating art and its possible development, in other words, they were a physical embodiment to work towards materialising participating cultures.
I want to thank Ioana Pioaru and Bahram Khalilov for their advice and collaboration on many stages of the project.
Saturday, November 29
16:00 Bogdan Ghiu
17:00 Justė Jonutytė
18:00 Adrian Bojenoiu
19:00 Giovanni Carmine
The Mobile Biennale 1 – Oltenia Tour in 7 days – that took place between 28 July – 3 August created a context that short-circuited the presumed logic of art representation by the cancellation of the exhibition space. The representation space was over-extended to geographical dimensions (Oltenia Region) so as to deconcentrate the look upon some objects, images or situations generally presented as art. The exhibition project Dispositions in Time and Space reverts to the white cube representation.
The biennale aims at positioning the art discourse in relation to the two universal coordinates Time and Space but also to its own present, creating a speculative context, that was the starting point for the MB participants in the creation of works of art.
Curatorial theme, it brings up the mobility (understood as complex relational factor) and requests the participants to deliver their own discourse both in relation to the present, as a position undertaken, as well as in relation to the movement and evolution of what we call art. Also, another key aspect is how they define their current commitment to art through an unconditional relation to these two universal coordinates, Time and Space whose absence renders any discourse impossible.
Therefore, the works on display, although dealing with topics related to social, political, architectural or language themes, they can be interpreted as devices for ontological orientation or forms of dialogue and negotiation of the two existential coordinates.
The purpose of this thematic approach, seen as a whole, is to turn the art discourse onto itself, in a sort of attempt to emphasise the current range.
The exhibition is accompanied by a series of international conferences and debates gathered under the title Being Art. Materiality of Art Discourse and Its Extensions.
The exhibition is organized by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in collaboration with Club Electroputere Craiova and with the support of Czech Center Bucharest.
Pavilion looks very interesting, I must say. There were easily four other essays I immediately wanted to read after finishing the Post-Autonomy piece, which is a very high ratio, I think. I noticed, too, that many are from presentations, so their events/discussions look to be pretty solid as well.
Organised by the Either/or..or..or group as part of the Utopia School program.
Pt 1 Sunday 7th September, 2 – 4 pm GMT
Informal response to the text Post Fordist Aesthetics
You can access it here
Pt 2 Sunday 28th September 2 – 4 pm GMT
Informal response to Art and work by Maurizio Lazzarato.
You can access it here
Moderator: David Goldenberg
Platform: google+ hangouts.
Please email your name to email@example.com and we will add your name to the discussion.
We will be online between 15 – 30 minutes before the debate starts to test out the connection, and start connecting to other contributors.
Further information can be found on the either/or..or..or
We highly recommend that you read notes on the first debate and introduction to the online discussions program and activities in New York in October before the next debate.
The next few online debates take their starting point from Pamela M Lee’s recent book “Forgetting the art World”, which reveals how the concept of Globalization has undermined the 1960’s concept of the Art World; we find ourselves in a historical moment where traditional concepts, theories, descriptions and definitions of art are unable to assist us in making understandable the Ontology of art in this new context.
It seems to us that the route to locating a more precise understanding of art is through finding new concepts and pinning down what we understand by art in relationship to Neo Liberalism, in order at the same time to locate a more precise idea of what art is capable of doing and to break with its current inflated function.
The two texts together move us closer to understanding the space art and thinking have in describing the context in which we live today, shaped as it is by Neo Liberalism, in other words, setting out a more precise idea of the available critique and language to expose the existing conditions and a possible route through Neo Liberalism, and ideas for establishing a new art, based on Post Autonomy.
Presentation of my work 22nd August
2015 National Gallery Skopje, Macedonia
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
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.
“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.