GOOD GIRLS | memory, desire, power

National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC), Bucharest

Good Girls

Date: 20 June – 29 September, 2013
Curator: Bojana Pejić (Berlin)
Co-Curator: Olivia Nitis (Bucharest)

Good Girls is an international exhibition offering a broad perspective on contemporary women’s art practices. The prosaic heading “Good Girls” is inspired by two earlier curatorial projects: it echoes the phrasing “bad girls” coined by Marcia Tucker in the 1990s, when it basically related to those American women artists and curators influenced by feminism; the other reference is to the exhibition No More Bad Girls? (curated by Marion Stemberger and Kathrin Becker), held Vienna in 2010, which investigated alternative geographies and multiple cultural identities central to the age of globalization. But today, in 2013, let’s talk about “good girls”! Since the early 1990s, Romanian women artists and curators initiated a number of smaller exhibitions focusing on women and feminist art. This exhibition is a major international museum representation of women’s art in this country and it will focus on aspects regarding women's art production around three nuclei: memory, desire and power. The participant artists are primarily living and working in Europe, half of them coming from Romania.

Artists: Milica Tomić (Sbr), Regina José Galindo (Gtm), Sanja Iveković (Hrv), Martha Wilson (USA), Elke Krystufek (Aut), Katrazyna Kozyra (Pol), Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz (De), Nina Arbore (Ro), Jurga Barilaitė (Ltu), Ana Bănică (Ro), Ethel Băiaș (Ro), Lucia Dem Bălăcescu (Ro), Biroul Melodramatic (Ro), Geta Brătescu (Ro), Irina Broboană (Ro), Filipa Cezar (Prt), Anetta Mona Chișa & Lucia Trackova (Ro), Ioana Ciocan (Ro), CHIRKLI Collective (Can), Alexandra Croitoru (Ro), Suzana Dan (Ro), Anna Daučikova (Svk), Cristina David (Ro), Bianka Dobo (Hun), Simona Dobrescu (Ro), Sandra Dukić & Boris Glamočanin (BiH), Elian (Ro), Suzana Fântânariu (Ro), Aniela Firon (Ro), Mariela Gemisheva (Bul), Iraida Icaza (Pan), Corina Ilea (Ro), Chengyao He (Chi), Hristina Ivanoska (MCD), Orit Ishay (Isr), Anna Jermolaewa (Rus), Gülsün Karamustafa (Tur), Mihaela Kavdanska (Ro), Aurora Kiraly (Ro), Ana Lupaș (Ro), Flavia Lupu (Ro), Lesya Khomenko (Ukr), Romana Mateiaș (Ro), Olivia Mihălțianu (Ro), Larisa Crunțeanu (Ro), Adina Paula – Moscu (Ro), Anca Munteanu – Rimnic (Ro), Ilona Németh (Svk), Ioana Nemeș (Ro), Alexandra Pirici (Ro), Delia Popa (Ro), Liina Siib (Est), Renee Renard (Ro), Necla Ruzgar (Tur), Dominique Sapin (Fra), Marilena Preda – Sânc (Ro), Hito Steyerl (De), Maria Ciurdea Steurer (Ro), Cecilia Cuțescu – Storck (Ro), Patricia Teodorescu (Ro) , Roxana Trestioreanu (Ro), Adela Jusić (BiH) Anna Jermolaewa (Rus), Mina Byck-Wepper (Ro).


Valeriu Schiau - THE DREAM

Contemporary art space AIURART, Bucharest, 24th of April – 13th of May, 2013

Valeriu Schiau

Valeriu Schiau is not a confortable artist. Art is not often comfortable. And it shouldn’t even be so. Art should raise issues, challenge thought, disturb not only exalt.  Socio-political phenomena, alienation, death, fear and trauma are all part of human experience, and their programmatic evacuation from the context of artistic reception is an act of cultural immaturity. The extremely generous history of contemporary international visual art production proves the natural inclusion and development of critic filter among artists or of pure observers of dramatic events, from the most organic representation to the abstract emotional exploitation.

Valeriu Schiau does not have a beautiful dream. Trauma and self-referential exorcism are part of his constant artistic discourse. The failure of parenthood, the family break, the tenssion within most private human relations, but also the observation on family trauma as social phenomenon are  revived like a ritualic pattern in the work of this artist born in the Republic of Moldova, active for more than one decade in Bucharest, Romania. The Dream installation comes in addition to his previous exhibitions (Born in USSRThe Invisible ChildLobotmyPersonal Issues) in which the image of the born or unborn child is recurrent connecting the personal story with the traumatic aspects that children are subjected to on one hand in the context of an oppressive political regime that allowed the creation of concentration camps, and on the other in a very current society that is living more and more accurately the negative consequences of globalization and slightly reacts in favor of fighting against violence. Violence has become some sort of a normative act not only among adults. The on-line game environment, the virtual world in which children and adolescents get refuge, but mostly the conflictual relationships within the family, emotional and physical abuse, parents divorce, school factors, excesive authority, linked with other emotional issues, are factors that can lead to various tragedies among which suicide has an important place.

In a WHO (World Health care Organization) statistics on suicide rate in world countries, in Romania in 2009, 24 suicides took place in the group age 5-14 years old. In the United States of America suicide represents the 10th death cause at the same group age. The gun use in this country represents a major threat to children and after several cases of gun use among children in public schools the current government policy is prioritizing gun control programs. Russia ranks first in the number of suicides among children and adolescents in Europe, up to 37% of cases in recent years.

Suicides are among the top ten causes of death among people worldwide. It is estimated that by 2020 it will be the second leading cause of death worldwide after cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Valeriu Schiau’s exhibition message is fully committed. The artist shares a personal story, “dreams” whose radical emotion cannot let anyone indifferent and also approaches a valid topic anywhere in the world at this time related to human irresponsibility for their children exposed to harsh social and political realities in which gun is anything but a toy.
Curator: Olivia Nitis


Mihai Zgondoiu - THE ARTIST'S GOLDEN HAND

Contemporary art space AIURART, Bucharest, April 5th - 22th, 2013

Mihai Zgondoiu

In the movie The Baby of Macon, Peter Greenaway captures a sick, sterile society ready to deify the beautiful child, dead and sanctified, from his wild undressing of clothes and ornaments up to his dismemberment in the irrational passion for a holy piece. Beyond the corrupted individuals’ reaction to the many manipulating facets of the body fragment, beyond social hysteria, Mihai Zgondoiu seeks, above all, a reference to himself through amusement and ironic detachment. The Artist's Golden Hand is not only a scan of a facet of contemporary reality, but also a healthy approach of self irony in a world where the value balance strongly influenced by political, economic, psychological... factors it's hard to keep.
Curator: Olivia Nitis


MOMENTUM

Aiurart Contemporary Art Space, March 14th – 30th, 2013

“Momentum project brings together the work of nine contemporary Romanian artists around a topic that has a significant history with classicized consequences in the public consciousness: March 8th, International Women’s Day and the general association of the month of March with femininity and all its conformist baggage. Artists observe and deconstruct social realities, relate to issues based on personal experiences to build a different vision of how society should relate not only to the 8th of March, but especially to a half of human population bearing on her shoulders political, economic and cultural prejudices and despite the dramatic changes in women’s lives for some decades now within developed societies, the transition to “something else” turns out to be a slow process, with syncopes and contrasts. Carmen Acsinte cuts out a contemporary “genre scene” recreating a room in the private space where a couple consumes a reality influenced by social norms, Dan Pierşinaru remembers through an installation a memory from childhood related to the significance of March 8th and social pressure, while Renée Renard relies on the experience of self-therapy by processing her own video hysterectomy. The situation of women who are forced to work in another country to earn a living is the subject of photographic documentation signed by Matei Bejenaru, social realities and their multiple facets being also addressed by Marilena Preda Sânc in her video about the normative roles women, by Patricia Teodorescu who video-documented interviews with various human categories in order to capture attitudes about gender roles in contemporary Romanian society, by Simona Dobrescu with a memorable photo that focuses on the artificiality of women in the corporate area, by Mario Ionescu in a series of identity photographs and by Valeriu Schiau in an objectual story about reproductive rights. The conceptual dimension is assumed by Paricia Teodorescu whose video installation traces through a symbol the process of transition and the fragility of memory in parallel with human violence in a kind of cause and effect relationship. Momentum is a project that reflects social reality and emotional intimacy, calling for a critical gesture at the same time and the invitation to identify changing solutions by understanding our altered consciousness and long-term consequences determined by socio-cultural limitations.”

Curator: Olivia Nitis

Artists: Carmen Acsinte, Matei Bejenaru, Simona Dobrescu, Mario Ionescu, Dan Piersinaru, Renée Renard, Marilena Preda Sânc, Valeriu Schiau, Patricia Teodorescu.


POSTindustrialRED

by Flavia Lupu
15.11.2012 – 10.12.2012, Atelier 030202, Bucharest

Flavia Lupu

The specific meanings of “post“ theories focused on deconstructing the past come often in contradiction with a process that is enabled in contextual situations. One cannot identify a post situation without actually identifying the previous act that is now the subject of deconstruction. Furthermore, the crisis of “post” (where “post” is not equal with “anti”) meets the maternal attitude of
the present towards the past following a process of double authority: that of adopting the past as well as rejecting it. The most difficult task imposed by “post“ theories is the ability of delimitation, which seems to be entangled in the state of “in-betweenness” as not always time frames and political and cultural phenomena have clearly defined their borders or have consumed entirely. Looking at the past means taking a sufficient distance. This process is not always possible and therefore we are left with ambiguity and coexistence. The period of transition from communism to post-communism in Romania, in the larger frame of former Eastern Block, the period of the 90s is a significant decade with various meaning and connotations for all the generations involved. The particular situation of the youngest generation is probably most interesting as this is the first generation detached from its immediate past, probably the most capable of embracing the “post” era and yet the most incapable of fully understanding its consequences. This generation had no experience of the communist past, no traumatic memories they are simply caught up in a transition process they cannot identify as such. The young generation developing in the 90s is now facing the past through family histories and book theories. Somehow they are experiencing, without necessarily being aware of it, an identity crisis. They are not from the industrialized past, nor from the consumerist present, they are children of transition. Flavia Lupu assumes the role of analyzing this status through a self-referential discourse as well as through a dialogue with her generation. They have rapidly adapted to the current consumerist times, but at the same time their mentalities were shaped in the shadows of the past through their families. They live in communist flats and buildings, they play their classical gender roles as males and females, they have dreams, prejudice and frustrations.
They were the lucky ones able to know the taste of bananas from early years. Still the environment they are living in is a powerful sign of the past they cannot completely understand and maybe some of them are not even interested to do so. In relation to power this generation somehow defines another type of guinea pigs from the one represented by their parents as we are all living and breathing beings that cannot escape the system except through our minds. Object, the symbolic “read chair”, print and video (unedited original homemade videos) should offer at least some of the faces of transition; an important exercise of understanding your identity and how the past affects your present. That is if you give a damn!


THE POETICS OF POLITICS 

June 14 - July 28, 2012, Galeria Propaganda, Warszawa. Curator: Olivia Nitis

Artists: Olimpiu Bandalac, Ciprian Chirileanu, Euroartist Bucureşti, Suzana Fântânariu, Constantin Flondor, Teodor Graur, House pARTy, Iosif Király, Sorin Oncu, Christian Paraschiv, Marilena Preda Sânc, Valeriu Schiau, Decebal Scriba, Gabi Stamate, subReal, Patricia Teodorescu.

Open publication - Free publishing - More art catalog


Statement: I Advocate Feminism

Artpoint Gallery, Kulturkontakt Vienna, Austria

The exhibition “I Advocate Feminism” deals with the feminist battle against everyday discrimination, sexual oppression and patriarchal modes of behaviour, and presents feminism as a general form of political and social commitment. It focuses not only on women-specific issues, but also on the transformation to equal treatment of and between the sexes and the concomitant end of patriarchy.
The exhibition, curated by Olivia Nitis, is being presented by KulturKontakt Austria and comprises works by Elena Kovylina (Russia), Igor Grubić (Croatia) & Lana Čmajčanin (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Patricia Teodorescu (Romania).


IEEB


Contemporary Nightmares

Atelier 030202 , Bucharest, 10.06 -10.07, 2010



Idila/Idyll

Austrian and Romanian artists active on the international art scene were invited to present their vision on the notion of Idyll in contemporary times. In the European cultural area Idyll is usually associated with an ideal state of spirit, serene, jolly and familiar with the purpose of being an opposition to the existent reality. In the process of constructing the idyllic environment, gender roles appear unchanged in time. The Idyll project aims to track, within the social-cultural context, the ways through which artists from two different cultures relate to this concept, as well as the extent of its relevance today.

Organized by the Austrian Cultural Forum, Romania at Atelier 030202, Bucharest.

Artists: Alexandra Bodea (RO), Irina Botea (RO), Cristina Garabetanu (RO), Lena Lapschina (AUT), Doris Mayer (AUT), Magda Pelmus (RO), Delia Popa (RO), Cloe Potter (AUT), Marilena Preda Sanc (RO), Eva Schlegel (AUT), Petra Sterry (AUT), Eva Ursprung (AUT), Simona Vilau (RO).



Feminism and Culture. Relevance and Perspectives in Art history and Cultural Analysis.

International Session of Talks at the Institute of Art History G.Oprescu of the Romanian Academy (November 27th, 2009) more here


As She Likes It – Austrian Women Video Performers

Screening, Point Contemporary, Bucharest (Nov 19th, 2009)


Perspective 2008

details here

If the communist period generated cultural flaws which distanced the Romanian artistic scene from a series of political and social movements with major cultural effect in the West, after the events from `89 Romania found itself in a painful cultural wandering, in a search for identity which still continues nowadays, in a need, especially after the integration in the European Union, to fall back on the copy-paste formula. A world that wakes up in a self-service phase is a world which will suffer from the unconsciousness handicap, because the past, the causes disappear leaving only the effects visible.

Self-service generations are numb generations which do not care about the context that generates respect, advantages, protection, non-discrimination and other things.

In this context those who activate in Romanian contemporary art, avoid certain political, social, religious based cultural problematic, because they are uncomfortable, or they completely ignore them both on the theoretical level and on the practical one, as if these problems were irrelevant.

In Romania the concern for feminism restricts itself mainly to an academic orientation, around gender studies from some of the universities in Romania, and on the artistic level one cannot talk about a concern or a coherent discourse undertaken by the artists and theoreticians. The examples, if they exist, are isolated. We still live under the imperative idea that, what does not concern us, or does not please us, does not exist.

Avoiding an artistic phenomenon with solid cultural basis is not the solution in approaching contemporary art.

Perspective 2008 project aims to demonstrate that ignorance is not a solution, that feminist art exists, underlining valuable aesthetic and conceptual guidance beginning with the 60s and 70s in the West, and that the resources of this art are still present in today’s social reality. Feminist art submits a critic discourse addressed to ignorance. The artists communicate messages taking into account the relations between genders, forms of abuse, misinformation, discrimination on various criteria (gender, age, race, social status, ethnicity, sexual orientation), and the way in which the condition is inequitable on the level of power. This project holds forth to observe not so much if feminism is relevant in the international contemporary art, but how it is relevant. This filter of analysis can only be applied by taking into account, as much as possible, the rule of diversity. Perspective 2008 gathers artists from various cultural areas, of different ages, different perspectives, as far as the project, although ambitious, must submit to the rules of space and financial implications.

Who is afraid of feminism? This is a question often asked and written after the end of the second wave of feminism, the one of difference and liberation, after solving the equality of rights problem, and entering a stage of emphasizing women’s power, and the pluralism of women’s experiences opposed to the so called victimist approach. In the East - European countries and in the Orient the politics of capacitation are relevant as far as the victimist stage has been overcome. Under the sign of post feminism Western culture offers the prototype of the socially and economically independent woman, of the liberated woman who rejoices the success of the feminist agenda, actually generating a stereotype which does not depend on reality and its context. The effects of the post feminism thinking generate more powerful and visible contrasts, with a background of manipulative economical structures. Great industries need dependent women on the image of independence, because this is marketable. A powerful social contrast has been developing between the groups of women who are the main target of great companies and those of poor women harnessed for a small amount of money, in order to produce merchandise intended for the upper and middle class women.

The participant artists from the Perspective 2008 exhibition practice a self-referential discourse. The inquiry of identity implies the woman as a body, as a biological presence in the meaning that Judit Butler, starting from Michel Foucault`s theories, gives to the body as a performative element playing a role, being an engraved and shaped surface by power practices, and also in the meaning of a manifest of body preservation as a natural anatomical fact. The danger of the biological determinism is the one of maintaining and legitimating socio-cultural discrimination, as far as the birth is not respected as an option but couched as an obligation. The works of Emily Laliberte (Canada) talk about the trauma of abortion, but her concept slides towards an assumption of the biological determinism from a fear which endorses the loss of womanhood/femininity, therefore the maternal qualities, in the fight for the equality of chances. The assumed feminist discourse does not lack confusions due to the quality of information and personal experience.

The works from this exhibition tell stories, and the stories lean upon cultural provenance and the subjective feeling of the artists.

The body is the taboo element which must become visible, is an instrument of attraction and analysis of masculine social behavior (Maria Friberg – Sweden), a centre of emotional information (Denise Pelletier – Canada), a platform of contradictions and debates (Barbara Philipp – The Netherlands), an instrument of ironizing the patriarchal norms (Su Tomesen - The Netherlands), a fetish by its conventional sartorial cover (Jurate Rekeviciute – Lithuania), a cultural sign as a response to the avant-garde position (Chengyao He – China), a manifest for abuse control (Mary Coble – USA), and religious conventionalism (Dorota Nieznalska – Poland). The woman’s face and body are presences amending the effects of the oriental patriarchal traditional system (Ryoko Suzuki – Japan), but also the consuming mechanism of the postmodern woman captive of feminine practices (Marilena Preda Sânc – Romania). Monica Mayer (Mexico) amuses herself on the way in which the body is intercepted based on the role it plays, and Doris Mayer (Austria) banters the myth of the blonde and the associative conventionalism of „feminine practices”. Body theories emphasize the body as a form of representation, as a product of gender technologies (Foucault and Teresa de Lauretis) which imprint the body in a certain socio-cultural, historical context. Thus the corporality does not express but a time changing identity - that of gender – built along the social interactions. The body is not just a passive structure, but is also shaped based on options, taking over at the same time, an impressive baggage of influences, necessary for the social integration.

There is a certain lack of mobilization in Romanian contemporary art when it comes to organizing some events of vast proportions, taking into account the difficulties in finding the necessary financial support, the right space and last but not least, people willing to work. A serious international exhibition requires great efforts, a responsible team, without the handicap of ease or the one of fears of the public’s reaction to a particular concept.

The numerous valuable partners of Perspective 2008 project prove the importance of adjusting the attitude towards the feminist art in relation with history and art in this cultural area, and underline, not the simple act of checking off a discourse on the cultural agenda, but the opening towards normality.