What is the rapport between games and maturity? Are there really any chronological limits which clearly mark the sufficiency of ludic activities or a person’s necessity to evolve? How is the role of the woman different from the perspective of space and time dedicated to playing? Does the rapport between feminine and masculine maturity imply the same kind of treatment of competition? What about reporting to rules, kneejerk situations, danger, performance? Where do the limits of the ludic end, if these exist? The classic statute of the woman is closer to the universe of playing due to its proximity to the home and/or children, or is this just a reason why the woman distances herself from the area of joy and free pleasure to activate her proficient attitude? How does the female artist report herself to the theme of playing and maturing through ludic strategies?
The basement contains three video installations, belonging to artists Aura Bălănescu, Agnes Varnai and Kristina Rațiu Demuth. Apart from these artists, a series of objects complete a universe dedicated to playing, the fantastic and maturing experiences.
Aura Bălănescu, a multimedia artist, comes with the interactive digital installation Soarele de la miezul nopții/ Midnight Sun, composed of a video and audio application which projects a stereoscopic image. This piece invites the viewer to interact and immerse through accessing the touchscreen which, once touched, changes the visual and audio configuration of the piece.
Agnes Varnai, artist of Hungarian origin, presents a piece composed of a performance together with an attractive and versatile object – a pair of shoes on which the artist has intervened and changed them. The film represents a performance of the artist regarding the musical scene of the 80’, together with artist Lugossy László.
Kristina Rațiu Demuth projects a performance which is also presented during the vernissage of the exhibition WOMAN, ALL TOO WOMAN, in which the actress, Anca Pitaru, in her role performer, experiments a series of theoretic and expressive therapeutic methods, which target the development of the level of consciousness of creativity, encourages the opening of freedom and responsibility to positively influence one’s own life and the direction of those around us through an attitude open to experiments and ludic utopias.
Andreea Medar presents two three-dimensional objects, Fake Cristal and Home in which she explores, in a sensitive and original way, the versatility of certain objects which reflect and refract light, scenery, and the viewer. In this way, the visitor is integrated in the dynamic forms invented by the artist. The joy of playing, the freedom of expression, of diversification, of growth become the prerogative of an experimental, complex and generative system.
Axenia Roșca brings four delicate and mysterious objects in this space, unified under the title of Islands mushroom. Created from an oneiric universe, the pieces made of bronze, crystals and coloured sand transpose us in a world in which dreams, stories, imagination and colors overlap one another, fuse together and make way for a surreal artistic experience, transposed in bold volume and colour.
Moving on through the exhibition towards the first floor, the visitor is greeted by the work of the young Carmen Niclolau, Feline Dinner. Born from the artist’s passion for cats, her ludic spirit and the irony of the everchanging report between the owner and the pet through the placement of cats at the dinner table, in very serious poses, as well as the presence of a human under the table, waiting for attention and touches, the ceramic piece invites to reflection on real or imaginary rapports.
The beginning of the exhibition is dedicated to a series of key concepts of modern society. The works relate to some of the most pressing issues of today’s society, to realities which influence the sensitive inspiration zone for artists and feed their creative imagination. Created from the perspective of sleek observation, the works determine, select, ironize, dynamize or amend the present from the creator’s perspective, who goes outside of his comfort zone and assumes a speech which is risky, innovative, seductive, and sometimes ludic.
The exhibition begins with an access space where the visitor can choose to either descend to the basement, where video works and objects attract the viewer towards a rich experience of ludens and maturing experiences or may continue his journey in the space of the museum’s ground floor, where works are selected and spatially articulated according to the concept of ecology, social identity and consumerism.
This interstitial space is dedicated to artists Nada Stojici and Andreea Hereşanu. Sculptures and paintings are placed in a dialog of expressivity, at the beginning of a journey through the exhibition.
Nada Stojici shows four bronze sculptures from the Reticulum series, in which she proposes four volumetric states of a dynamic universe; solid forms born from a liquid medium – heavy, but apparently imponderable, mysterious, ludic, apparently slippery, but stable; forms which bring together the principles of the waterish medium with the telluric one. These works have bellied forms and undefined growths, described in an intermediate state of development and contain references towards a universal maternity, strong and protective.
Andreea Hereşanu proposes a series of pictures in which, using visual language, she opens the visitor’s perception towards different areas of reflection, escaping from everyday life, along with quietness and serenity inspired by nature’s cycles. At the composition level, however, by using certain colors, rhythms and symbols, the artists highlight the danger and gravity of human intervention which hovers like a threatening specter over the course of nature. That is where the sensation of tension which fills the lively-colored paintings comes from.
Liliana Mercioiu Popa builds an in situ piece using a series of personal, modern objects, specific to the area of urban comfort which man, after using them, either forgets, abandons or throws them away. She highlights the desire of extraordinary, translated through the action of having, owning, through the force of attraction which manifests rapidly, chaotically and sometimes even violently. These objects of wish fulfilment quickly become subjects of rejection. Through their jacketing in dark matter and through contextualization in the piece În căutarea (extra)- ordinarului, the artist proposed a new paradigm of acceptance, reevaluation and perspective of actions, as well as a rapport with the excess of forms which derive from our desire of safety and comfort.
Andra Ciocoiu proposes, through the interactive sculpture Solid Play, an algorithm which tackles functionality, causality and the necessity of interaction of matter with space, through movement. Although, through its character, playing proposes a type of dynamic interaction attached to the concept of solidity – the ludic thus wins the verticality and elegance of tough matter. Through the intervention of the sculptor, strong material is moved through the force of engineering intelligence and artistic experiment. Andra Ciocoiu invites the viewer to change the configuration of the piece, to enter its game, and interact with the sculpture both physically and conceptually.
Marilena Preda Sânc exposes an ensemble formed of paintings, photographs and an object made of fluorescent neon. The apparently jovial, but essentially dramatic character of the works, cold and impersonal, show toys of modern children exposed in commercial spaces for ludic objects – and highlight the latent danger promoted by consumerism which reproduces, exposes and commercialized toys which picture, without any insight, objects of violence, death and abuse, as well as weapons depicted near life belts. This kind of relativity of values specific to East-European and Romanian modern society is very well depicted in the photograph and painting which are based on the perspective of the artist regarding the urban landscape in which the relationship between the historic and postmodern architectures is questioned.
In the paintings from the Putzmalerei series, Jelena Micić presents, in a few performative pseudo-pop paintings, a parallel between the statute of artists and a cleaning lady. Both roles are well known to the Serbian-born artists, which lives and works in Austria. Through the portretization of some feminine archetypes, like the depersonalized but smiling woman, who cleans spaces or does the shopping, together with 3 paintings done with a mop – she questions issues of social, philosophical, political and decisional issues. The issue of overqualification at wok is, in this case, the conceptual center of these colorful and jovial works which hide a rough and critic speech.
In the next part of the, Linda Saskia Menczel proposes and ensemble formed of three bronze-made volumes: Transformare Globală, Fructul Edenului and Regenerare. The works target the relation between man and nature, through remembering the paradisiac state and questioning the manner in which man rapports to the natural landscape which he received as a gift, as subject of contemplation, nourishment and free possession. In this space, Alina Ondine Slimanovschi invites us to dream and to reevaluate the rapport between woman and nature. In paintings from the Reîntrupări series, she highlights the nocturnal, oneiric, integrating state of the woman who, through analogy with the bird, becomes a symbol of the freedom of flight, of transgressing some mysterious spaces in which life and death combine like in a dance, highlighting nature’s incredible cyclicity. Ana Maria Negară’s drawing, a study of an organic form which prepares the subject of the sculpture, inscribes in the same contemplative dialogue with volumes and symbols, representing, at the same time, a research stage for sculpture and a refined, expressive, self-sustaining piece of art.
Simona Nuțiu Gradoux highlights, using an expressive and cumulative metaphor, a piece of art which contemplates the universality of migration. Through an analogy between dendrologic symbols, elements of the human figure and the universe of insects and birds, she proposes an image which describes the dynamism of communities. Questioning the adaptability and the possibility of mutation appearance at the installation of a fragile balance are united under the concept of bringing balance, emotional and territorial stability. By using some tree fragments from her own garden and some textile elements belonging to her family, and using the nose as a central, vertical and representative symbol of the human body, Simona Nuţiu Gradoux created a universe in which she coats questions and answers, where she articulates the rapport of her own identity to the universality of understanding otherness.
The video work of French artist Josepha Blanchet, placed near the mysterious painting of Diana Sergiuţă, creates and ambiance in which the presence of the woman is analyzed under the specter of dusk, of seduction and of the relationship with nature’s wilderness. The feminine body is surprised in a universe of tension and chromatic beauty, marking, through immersion in water and glass, the parallel with and archetype of fatal and funest feminism. The material capacity of the body appeals, in this context, to immersion in the primordial substance of nature, marine and, at the same time, telluric.
A selection from the Fluid Identitz series, belonging to artist Ada Muntean from Cluj, explores the expressive potential and specific concept of the human body, through which she carefully follows the process of de-humanizing the soul. Portrait or body fragments described through drawing not only follow the expressive performance of forms, which implicitly show themselves, but are also conceived to critique a certain type of beauty – a cliché which lack individuality but is adopted by the vast majority of the persons hyper-connected to media platforms.
Next up, continuing the dramatic speech of the evil use of power by man, the room which contains the Connected installation Eva Maria Schartmüller and the paintings from Trup cu pești series belonging to Silvia Moldovan, treat the individual’s lack of responsibility and bad influence of man on climate and other species which ensure trophic balance. The Austrian artist elaborates and installation which highlights the pollution of seas due to the dumping of toxic substances in waters and soil. Silvia Moldovan proposed two pieces from the Extincțiilor series, called Trup cu Pești. In these monumental pictures, the Romanian artists signals the dystopia of fish species going extinct and the drama of decomposing a universal trophic chain through the extermination of animal species, in man’s quest to dominate, consume and endanger biodiversity.
Connected in details and concept with the previous room, the installation of artist Jelena Micić, Bojna Polja (Color/Battle Fields), is placed in space in the form of a baroque curtain. The message of the piece of art is, though, a grave one – moving on from the chromatic mirage and game of forms and projections and shades which surround the room, the spatial structure is conceived from the remains of fruit and vegetable bags, some industrial-produced plastic objects which, after they fulfil their role to coat their natural contains, enter an anonymity of use. In this sense, the artist provokes the viewer to think ecologically, anti-consumerism, creative and free.
What are the limits of the body’s functions and how are they presented without a specific algorithm for the integrous nature of the body? How can we translate, decode and reinvent criteria of value, aesthetics and relations specific to anthropomorphic shapes? How can female artists think about their own body, their own memory and their conceptual privileges, which cover these zones of intimate identity? How is otherness represented in this system? This floor dedicated to the body, space and intimacy of memory, fulfils a series of projects which explore areas of mystery, transparency and physical opacity, of personal mythologies connected with the perspectives of a fragile reality, open to change using cultural concepts.
The first floor contains an incursion in the intimacy of female archetypes. The exhibition proposes a round idea of space, in which a visitor can enter either through the room close to the Baba collection, or through the direct access of the temporary exhibition.
In this thematic context, the paintings of Doina Mihăilescu and the ronde- bosse’s of Elenea Bobi Dumitrescu open a refined universe, translated in a classicized key, in which one can predominantly see the comfort of a safe space open to dreamy experiences. Elena Bobi Dumitrescu represents her own children from a frontal point of view, standing up, with a complete figure, in one of the intimate moments of their existence – when they are waiting to be picked up from their bath. The parallel with the symbolic and compositional scene of the Christening is not random, since the hiper-centered models also participate through posture, dimension and proportion to the totemization of the image created by the author. In the same space, Doina Mihăilescu exposes three large paintings, seductive from a chromatic perspective. The bodies represented by the painter show a state of detachment, imponderability and reverie, while also inserting a feeling of chronologic abstractness. Doina Mihăilescu paints, in light colors, THE JOY OF LIVING, represented, through synesthetic symbolic references, through the presence of flowers, of musical instruments, of the poetization of gravity.
In the next room, artist Eva Maria Schartmüller proposes words inspired by the observation of the loss of social identity through the loss of hair following chemotherapy treatments. If hair is a definitory detail in the affirmation of feminine identity, its loss, or temporary confrontation with its absence, brings us closer to imminent death, or helps us discover the qualities of life further than forms, preconceptions and social conventions? If the artists’ photographs are done with a friend who has passed through the experience of cancer and has accepted to be photographed in this fragile state, the hair rug was done through the sewing of a large quantity of hair obtained from various hair salons in Vienna. This connection, between the personal body and the collective body, questions the rapport of the artist to the richness of different cultural varieties the female body can use to express itself in modern times.
In an intimate space of the Baroque Palace, a niche is dedicated to the Serbian artist Emilia Jagica. For Emilia, the human body represents the most sincere and expressive matter to portray inner feelings. That is why she transposes the female body in a collage, drawing or performance. Her exposed works, all components of the Nudes refitted series, are done through the selection, reconfiguration and re-contextualization of certain expressive images from the inter-war period, in which the joy of beauty and youth is second to the specter or heroism, of fears, of inhibitions and of body fragmentation. In this room, the sculpture belonging to Ana Maria Negara, a volume which brings together in form and symbol floral elements with details of feminine physical intimacy, opens countless variants of interpretation.
Alina Cioară proposes three works placed in three different space of the museum. Geography. Emotional History. Wanderlust, the white carpet with red wings, becomes a trip down childhood lane in this context, an expression of a beginning of a rapport to space, time and one’s own being, a trip done using filters of memory. The piece thus becomes an object of knowledge and self-knowledge, where fragments of identity fuse together and combine, transforming a useful household item in a scene where one can dream and manifest creative utopias. In the same space we can find Rock me till the dreams grow wings exposed, a volume which encapsulated the need for protection, remembering a comfort and happy zone and the necessity to perpetuate this feeling.
In the next room, three large dimension photographs of Joseph Blanchet continue on a road towards elevation through seduction. The progress of various silky and shiny elements is combined with the gracious moves of a young, cruel, elegant and generous female body, in a language of poetic expressiveness. Josepha’s imagines represent the connection with the next room, where photographic miniatures belonging to Oana Stoian represent fragments of an intimate photographic speech, mysterious and tenebrous. The Romanian artists uses overlays of different plans and shutter speeds to describe refined and diaphane episodes of a delicate, abstract and fragile feminine existence.
The meeting between the works of artists Victoria Zidaru, Diana Serghiuță and Linda Saskia Menczel draw a space dedicated to dialogue with the self, with mythology and with the projection of one’s own identity in a context of purifying detachness. In this sense, giving and receiving forgiveness is express through Iartă-mă, by Victoriei Zidaru. Could this room be one of self-portraits? Linda Saskia Menczel creates her own three-dimensional character as an alter-ego, a form of knowledge, an anthropomorphism volume, spindly and vertical, a white journal, over which she carefully places gold verses, with verve and honesty, texts brought from the memory of her own existence. Diana Serghiuță imagines through drawing two different states of feminism: the child maker, the mother, the woman who feeds, who offers herself, who sacrifices herself. The mask-covered face of the two characters makes way for the second state, inspired by the Balkanic mythology and folklore – representing protection, symbolically build through building ritualic masks traditionally used in rites of passage and to fight against evil.
Next up, artist Florica Prevenda exposes a representative sample of her Anonymus series. In her collages done using surgical precision, she questions her brethren’s perception of otherness. Her works represent portraits from behind, continuing on the motive of cultural masks and de-masks. In this context, hair becomes and anthropological visual experience, an instrument to question and understand otherness. The artists explore formalism and the modern social blindness, referring to stealing the attention of one’s eyes by interfering factors of the modern world. She is inspired by the size which the human personality manifests itself in the virtual world, compared to expressing one’s self in real time and space.
Dana Constantin’s paintings, impressive through the elegance of transparency and dynamic composition, unify their refined rhythms in two monumental shapes. Elevated to architectural level through volume, the sensitivity of the painting accesses a statute of power and profoundness which can be attributed to the chromatic subtilties of the painting, whose force and tenderness are inspired by the never-ending flow of nature’s regeneration. In this room of quietness and peace, the drawings on wood of artist Minodora Tulcan also find their place. The careful and poetic notes done in close conversation with the fascinating unrepeatability of plant rhythms, these drawings aim more to describe moments of disbelief in front of the dendrologic spectacle; for Minodora Tulcan, returning to nature represents a way of feeling, understanding and permanentizing the paradisiac experience of the beginning of the world.
The path of the exhibition continues towards the second floor of the Art Museum, towards the space dedicated to the elevation of the human conscience, change and maturity inspired by rites of passage.
What does a rite of passage represent? Do they still exist in modern society and, if so, how do they mark our existence? What states of living to these mark and how do they influence modern female artists through their real, bibliographic, mythologic and religious presence?
Structured by modern science in anthropologic and demographic monographies, in catalogues organized through answers to applied questionnaires, described through statements and direct exposures, captures mostly in video and audio in observation documents, rites of passage and their connate stages designate a paradigm of space and time of cyclical natures, an atemporal paradox of detachment from reality and its rebuilding in a superior, elevated form. Through energy, cultural, emotional and ritualic loads, delimitated by intermediary stages whose interim and fragility cover the entire phenomenon, these moments of passage inspire, frighten, intrigue and attract.
At the second floor of the Baroque palace, the visitor is invited to pass by a series of works unified by their connection with elements, practices, symbols, functions and images which all belong, under various forms, to ritualic compositions.
The space dedicated to this concept is marked from the moment the stairs are climbed to get to the second floor where, from up high, the monumental work of Victoria Zidaru comes down towards its viewer. The installation made of plant elements forged together using some immense shapes whose structure is kept together by small, invisible wires, nibs an impeccable space, filled with history and bathed in light. The synesthetic valences of the piece take the visitor into an atemporal space, activating a shared fond of Balkanic cultural memory, in which mythology, violence, folklore and belief fuse together and interline. The past connects with the present, nature uses a surprising force to take over elaborate architecture, subordinates it, dominates it through the elegance of a speech whose richness, monumentalism and diversity underlines the creative force of an ancestral feminity.
In the room which opens the second floor, Simona Vilau exposes two large paintings, Burry me and Dignidad. The two are conceived in complementary colors and represent violence, cruelty, treason and dignity. The figuration of some defeated feminine bodies does not cancel the force which pulses from the volumes. Horizontally composed, to lead the viewer to the feeling of a fall, to denote suffering, impaled by the persistence of the being’s fragility, the bodies maintain the archetype qualities specific to representatives of the Ancient Times. In this sense, Burry me and Dignidad bring together the energy of the pain followed by the reincarnation of the being, transgressing the imaginary, beyond chronological conventions, be them classically or anti-classically represented.
In the same ample space, in a logic progression of the definition of identity, Aurora Kiraly proposes two works inspired from an intimate area of personal mythology, of daily rituals, of aspects which bring joy and make the difference in urban life. The use of some models used to decorate apartments walls from the recent past creates a comfortable, familiar and warm space. If the backgrounds of the collages are defined through the usage of decorative roles, the photographs which are part of the collage are composed as some witnesses to the journal of a particular life whose fragments are brought forward. Moments filled with joy and emotion thus become scenes of an authentic urban theater, where architectural marks specific to the East European space can be read in the background of some photographs which represent a passing present.
The space dedicated to artist Suzana Fântânariu gains totemic qualities through the articulation of the visual speech proposed by the artist. In this ample room, the meeting between the bi-dimensional, three-dimensional and anthropomorphic is performed through the placement of three works impressive in terms of size, volume and symbols. Ambalaj pentru suflet II and Ambalaj pentru suflet III, two anthropomorphic objects, of human size, three-dimensional models obtained from various materials, such as: condensed paper, rope, wood, all dialog like two ages of the same man, two quiet witnesses of the past and the future. The mail walls of the room are dominated by the Inventar totemic, which covers the architecture in a modular and organic way, without breaking the overlays of plans of the Dutch paper. Conceived as a personal and universal diary, as a collection of memories, the installation from the collages shows small anthropomorphic forms, equally set around. Each of these graphic marks is a pluralism of overlaid memories, a portrait, maybe perhaps a self-portrait. The meaning of personal identity blends into the channel of collective identity, of the memory, the dream, the myth under the attention and surgical selection of the artist which, knowing all the stories of the fragments which compose these entities, has the capacity to create new meanings, rhythms and emotions.
Moving on with the exhibition towards the Baroque Room, the Întrupări installation, brought to space by the artist Adriana Lucaciu, represents 16 drawings in mixed technique on a textile background in a monumental ensemble. Created between 1992-2012, the works are based on the experience of remembering the bodies of the brothers and sisters lost at the Revolution of 1989. The vertical linen surfaces, transparent, of an almost skin-tone white, are transformed by the expression, like an expressionist drawing, of the marks of over-sized, fragmented and torn bodies. The proportion and central placement of the subject in the composition reminds the viewed of the functionality of the winding sheet, the printing of the physical identity on a material which becomes, through melting, an integral part of the body, final garment, the last hug. The necessity of repudiating the memory of the meat cover cannot be performed in a single ritual, because the subject has passed into evanescence. The artistic language becomes a terribly exhibitive force of collective trauma and integration in the registries of history, anthropology or forgiveness.
In the Baroque Room of the Art Museum, we can find the three-dimensional works of Elena Bobi Dumitrescu and Victoria Zidaru. The oval, organic and ample volumes of the contemporary art works create a dialogue with the alveolar shapes of historic architecture. Entitled Visul Jucăriei, the bronze sculptures on vitelline bases of Elena Bobi Dumitrescu challenge us to a meeting with the memory of childhood, with the game which, through a ritualic repetition of moves, of logical constructs, contributes to the formation of a set of values and practices very useful for maturity. The difference between the apparent and the essence, between soft and hard, between hard and easy, is seen in the sculptures shown here. The object Formă încolțită of Victoria Zidaru, an imposing work of art through the composition of the volumetric body, in which the principle of space predominates, is an ovoid made of metal, textile material which is covered by hemp braided with letters which make up psalms, prayers. The form is cut by a strong arrow, half white, half red. Simple, almost transparent, the spatial sculpture invites towards knowledge, consciousness and self-knowledge through the purging of details, through the selective keeping of the essence of a transcendental balance, which cannot be cancelled, since the entire human set of values changes with the obtaining of the understanding of the share of the immaterial stability.
The room dedicated to the installation of Marinei Abramović opens itself to the visitor with a series of objects found in space, which reconfigure the atmosphere created by the artist in the Biennale in Venice, in the year 1997, when she won the Golden Lion with her piece, called Balkan Baroque. The three video pieces, placed in a tryptic shape in a dark room represent the artist together with her parents. The projection in which Marina is found is a short film in which she is presented in a dual state: first, dressed in a white robe, the artist highlights, in very few words, the positive features of the rat, a species blessed with extreme intelligence and adaptability, as well as the cruel way of Balkan people of destroying rat communities, through the manipulation of the natural behavior of this species, and the creation of an exponent which can kill bordering nests. By analogy, the creation of this invincible animal in experimental conditions can be the same as modifying human consciousness through war, when rules become obsolete and the strongest man wins. In the second part of the movies, dressed in a black dress which showcases the sensuality of her body, with a red scarf, the artist dances using free moves to the rhythms of a folkloric song. Quick, violent gestures suggest a type of behavior typical to primitive stereotypes, which, transgressing the cruel realities of life, activate a type of strong, dominant, irrational seduction. On the two walls which close the space dedicated to this movie, two interviews with the artists’ parents are projected, whom, separated from the religious principles specific to the families they were born in, became partisans between 1941-1945, after which they joined the Communist Party. In this way, the story of the creation of the invincible rat becomes a metaphor for the social experiments performed in the Balkans, suggesting that mutilating one’s identity leads the human being to commit terrible atrocities.
At the biennale of Venice, in the center of this image created by the drawing of social gatherings, the artist has placed a huge pile of cow bones which she cleaned, for six hours, every day, for four consecutive days, using a brush and some bottles filled with water. The utopia of washing blood, disintegrating organic matter, the horrible smell of putrefying means, and bones activates, through an analogy, the image of the universal war, of killing of man by man, of eradicating species to prove human supremacy. Even if, directly, the author refers to the drama of the Balkan wars, the piece expresses the universality of human cruelty, of the potential of killing violence, which, for various reasons, activates in the form of a walking weapon, more or less obvious. Its transposition in dramatic metaphors of some heart-breaking truths is structured as a behaviour which functions after a ritualic construct, in which the cleaning of the bones represents an act of purification of one’s own being, and, through extension, of he who wishes to enter this paradigm. With his acceptance, the visitor can immerse in the state of knowing oneself proposed by the artist and can activate his restorative force.