'Enchanting Views' at National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC), Bucharest

21st October 2014

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Enchanting Views is the first exhibition devoted to one of the most coherent and innovative projects of post-war modernity in Romanian architecture, namely, the tourist development of the Black Sea coastline during the 1960s and 1970s.

Enchanting Views proposes a new reading of the visual and symbolic identity of the Romanian Black Sea coastline, placing architecture at the center of a time-specific visual culture, essential both to understanding the local tourism policies and the experience of modernity. Thus, the exhibition expands its research framework from the politics of space to the politics of image, revisiting some of the most important works of this architectural laboratory between 1957 and 1973.

Tracing the mise-en-scène effect of leisure architecture, a sensitive framework for the interaction between the discourse of the developer (the state), of the architect and of the user (the tourist), the exhibition records the manner in which the leisure program is integrated to the official mechanism of promoting the successful narratives of socialism. The "new objectivity," reasserted by the architectural discourse, is accompanied, in the plane of visual representation, by the seductive language of formal expressions, by the clarity and expressiveness of design. Thus, leisure architecture as an autonomous visual territory manages to redefine the conventions of reading the ideas of modernity locally.

The experience of the coastline is an important episode of Romanian post-war modernity which needs to be analysed in the context of the organized mode of spending the leisure time, of the rationalization of consumption and of the particular conditions of mobility of the tourist. Beyond the intricate interdependence between the ideological concerns, the state development policies and the architectural practices, the project underlines the integration of the leisure architecture program in Romania in a trans-national discourse, examining the dissemination of the concepts and principles of Western modernism in the socialist economy and reality and the particular manner of enforcement thereof.
The exploration of the seductive expressions of seaside architecture and the impact of mass tourism on society start from a careful reading of the socialist microcosm, describing the varied practices of representation of leisure architecture (as a collective recreational space and a setting of socialist utopia) and the economic pragmatism (the tourism policies of the '60s and '70s, the interest for technologization and industrialization).

The exhibition consists of interrelated satellites, which display a series of architectural case studies, the archive photographs and propaganda films, interviews, accompanied by the works of artists Ion Grigorescu and Nicu Ilfoveanu.
Curated by Kalliopi Dimou, Sorin Istudor and Alina Șerban
Seminar participants:
Elvan Altan, Architecture Faculty, Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara; Irina Băncescu, University of Architecture and Urbanism "Ion Mincu," Bucharest; Anke Hagemann, Habitat Unit / International Urbanism and Design Department of Architecture, Technische Universität Berlin; Olga Kazakova, Research Institute of Theory and History of Architecture and Town Planning, Moscow; Carmen Popescu, Architectural History, University Paris I – Sorbonne; Michael Zinganel, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Academy of Arts Vienna
Moderated by Ana Maria Zahariade, University of Architecture and Urbanism "Ion Mincu" Bucharest

Project organized by the pepluspatru Association.

The exhibition, as well as the publication and the accompanying seminar have been produced with the support of the National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, ERSTE Foundation, the Chamber of Architects in Romania, the Dobrogea local subsidiary of the Chamber of Architects, the Romanian Cultural Institute, the Union of Romanian Architects – Arhitectura Magazine Image Archive, SALT, Atlas Corporation, Printman SRL, Square Media, Corcova.
Cultural project financed by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund.

For more details please visit MANC webpage