Contemporary Visual Arts in Romania (part II) by Simona Nastac

12th September 2005

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Monday 12 September 2005 19.00, The Romanian Cultural Centre, 8th floor, 54-62 Regent Street, London W1B 5RE; Find out more about Romania’s visual arts scene from curator and art critic Simona Nastac, currently graduating MA Creative Curating, at the Goldsmiths College, University of London. Any issues you might have regarding Romanian contemporary art will be answered in a discussion after the presentation. Simona’s presentation and discussions will be followed by the projection of the film about visual arts scene in Romania: "Behind the Scene_ Question 4" by visual artist Nita Mocanu. Limited number of seats. If interested, book at before 7 September 2005. "Imagine an empty space, a physical and mental site of passage. Stop for a moment. The contextual significance of the place is made apparent through your journey, as the route you take marks a residual presence and also an absence. This is the Romanian pavilion in Venice Biennale this year. And the payoff is that it has won a prize. Yet the ‘in between’ is more than a concept, or a symbolic direction to locate Romania on a map. It is a statement and a state of mind. It tells not only where we are, but also what we are. Since the collapse of Communism, the Romanian people have had to reposition their political and cultural inheritance in line with an increasingly Western values system. This shift has affected all pockets of society, including the art world, which became conscious of the necessity to keep itself connected with the international art context to which it aspires. Consequently, the artists reoriented their discourses from explorations of their own individuality to a platform-generative type of artistic practice, replacing the reflexive strategies with more radical socially engaged discourses. Going beyond reflections of the ego, they have realized that it is more important to relate than to express. The Centre for Art Analysis in Bucharest; the Vector Association and Gallery along with the Periferic Biennial of Contemporary Art in Iasi; the Protokoll Gallery and Idea foundation and magazine in Cluj; H.arta group and Gallery in Timisoara; and the web magazine e-cart are some of the most active self-organised initiatives in Romania trying to bridge the gap between the obsolete institutional discourse and the audience. There are also established public art institutions such as the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the International Centre for Contemporary Art, former Soros Centre, and Galeria Noua, a municipal gallery in Bucharest. Whatever tensions or polemical conflicts there are between them, they all operate on the same vivid stage - undergoing transition towards the Western paradigm, yet striving to preserve its identity. This is because the Romanian art scene cannot be detached from the political context at large: it is a hybrid space reflecting its particular condition as result of the geographical, historical and cultural specifics, allowing contingent intersections, but demanding pertinent participation. Art practice can portray the region, but the region, in its varying states of political, economic and cultural development, portrays also the facets of this practice. To that end, if you have not seen the Romanian pavilion in Venice, don’t miss the chance to appreciate its emptiness in London. For however enduring is the sense of an empty place, we are definitely back." (Simona Nastac) This presentation is part of the CULTURE POWER program which is initiated by the Ratiu Foundation UK and designed for students and scholars interested in exploring the development of Romanian culture. The program consists of a series of seminars focused around a presentation followed by a constructive dialogue with an invited audience. Each event brings together an audience of experts, tutors and commentators in the relevant field, who might be interested in improving the project or taking it further. CULTURE POWER thereby aims to introduce the work of Ratiu scholars to a discerning and influential audience, not only through face to face discussion at the seminars but also by circulating papers and reports. This network aims to generate both an educational arena for the scholars and a major source of information about Romanian issues for an important target group. Organised by The Ratiu Foundation UK