Sights and Sounds: Romania

February 28 - March 27, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Romania features new work by Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan, Irina Botea, Pavel Brăila, and Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor, selected by Daria Ghiu.

Installation view of Sights and Sounds: Global Film and Video in the Goodkind Media Center. Photo by David Heald.

These four videos share a certain Romanian sensibility: an interest in assembling and installing history. The works are infused with hints of the historical avant-gardes whose vestiges and heritage remain vividly alive there. Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan use official local histories as material for a filmed performance that crashes and transforms them in a cacophonous Dada act. Irina Botea constructs a national anthem—a well-preserved and exhausted stereotype—to reveal an act of national identity deconstruction, at once beautiful and almost ridiculous. Pavel Brăila carefully portrays the one-day winter life of Chișinău, capital of Moldova, wielding the tools of a post-plein-air painter to simultaneously veil and unveil the city. The mute film of Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor features children’s play, an ephemeral, unaware enactment of history and warfare. Their simple, poetic gesture implies a promise—the promise of renewal.

Daria Ghiu
Curator

Daria Ghiu (b. Bucharest, 1983) is a PhD candidate at the National University of Arts in Bucharest, with a thesis on the history of the Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. An art critic, she publishes reviews in Romanian and international art magazines such as Arta, Idea arts+society, Artforum.com (Critics’ Picks section), TurnOnArt.com, Art Press, and Spike, and is a permanent collaborator with Romanian Cultural Public Radio. In 2013 she contributed to the catalogue of the exhibition Romanian Scenes at Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton Paris. In the same year she curated In This Pavilion One Can See Art: Romania in Venice, 89 Years with La Biennale at tranzit.ro/Bucharest.

Video

Anca Benera (b. Constanta, 1977; lives in Bucharest) and Arnold Estefan (b. Targu Secuiesc, 1978; lives in Bucharest), Pacta Sunt Servanda (Agreements Must Be Kept), 2012, HD video, sound, 16 min., 37 sec., in Romanian and Hungarian with English subtitles. Transylvania’s history is a subject of dispute between its resident Romanians and ethnic Hungarians. In Pacta Sunt Servanda the artists simultaneously read two official versions of the same national history, taken from their respective schoolbooks. Recited at the same time, the two versions bring to the surface contradictory versions of the past and cancel one another out. The video includes three chapters: The 1848 Revolution, the Treaty of Trianon (1920), and the Vienna Dictate (1940).

Irina Botea (b. Ploiesti, 1970; lives in Chicago), Before a National Anthem, 2010, video, sound, 10 min., 55 sec., in Romanian with English subtitles. While the aim of a national anthem is to mobilize patriotic feeling around the idea of the nation, the telos, or purpose, of the composer is to consider and capture the political imagination of the moment. For Before a National Anthem, writers and musicians were asked to create, in the freest way possible, a new national anthem for Romania. To this were added comments made by members of the public, all responding to the question, How do you compose a national anthem today?

Pavel Brăila (b. Chișinău, 1971; lives in Chișinău and Berlin), Chișinău—City Difficult to Pronounce. Winter, 2011, HD video, sound, 21 min., 43 sec. Chișinău—City difficult to pronounce. Winter is one segment of a four-part video that offers impressions of Moldova’s capital through the seasons. Inspired by Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 film Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis, Brăila filmed the life of his city during the course of one year. He was also responding to the discovery that the last official visual material documenting the city—and indeed the entire country of Moldova—had been recorded in 1986.

Mona Vătămanu (b. Constanta, 1968; lives in Bucharest) and Florin Tudor (b. Geneva, 1974; lives in Bucharest), Rite of Spring, 2010, Super 8 film, 7 min., 51 sec. Children burn mounds of white poplar fluff. Some are street kids, some have a family, some are nomadic, and some just squat in roofless, derelict houses. Sparks and small fires suggest the catalyst for change to existing orders. They recall the fires in the French banlieues in recent years, the perpetual deportation and repatriation of Roma people throughout Europe, antiwar protests against the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan around the globe, and recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

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