Cristina
Stoenescu




NEW NOW

Păstrați distanța / Keep the distance

But
we are so terribly lost


they wrote
- ships are in awe of -


and it's really the same
we are explorers in a strange land
curators as an introduced species
where
no one is home


//

It’s September 2030 or perhaps another time entirely.
The world
survives on fables of the past and cautionary tales of the future.
It is the present of dystopias;
we’ve run through so many scenarios that we can no longer be sure which story fits our fragment of reality best.
We have built a city of screens and underneath it a village of windmills spreading their whispers around.
Our co-dependency was a strange dream,
our love a distraction from work,
although I remember being happy
when
I bought it last year in Hong Kong.


//



Under the uncertain conditions of the lockdown, the end-of-March show has slowly transformed into the mid-June gallery reopening. Amidst the sudden quiet and eerie stillness of the city, Iosif Király’s photographs have lingered with us in isolation, during caffeinated afternoons and plan Bs of plan Bs.

I can hear the tip-tap sound of the nails as the artist sets them into the prints – a mechanical editing of the image in the post-digital age. There is a strange effect on the eye through the layers of photo-images and metal strings, a force that appears to pass or travel through reality.

A hand stops in its place a distanced ferry on the green-blue Danube, another one rests on the edge of a floating boat, all pointing out to the strange details we forget and remember and remember and forget.



//

Somewhere, in the South of France, in Aldous Huxley's ”Eyeless in Gaza”, two lovers are sitting in the sun, around a Hollywood-like body of water.

Now they've already gone indoors, the afternoon is but another memory. There is no one by the pool, the waterslide empty with frail afternoon shadows cast over treetops nearby.

The warm colours, the loisir, the luxury of contemplation underline a terrible sense of things that will be missed.

“Even the seemingly more solid fragments of present reality are riddled with pitfalls [...] The thirty-five years of his conscious life made themselves immediately known to him as chaos – a pack of snapshots in the hands of a lunatic.”

(”30 august 1933. Chapter III”, Aldous Huxley. Eyeless in Gaza.1936)
//

Dear Megan,

Ever since we met I wanted to ask you how you started being taken by this frenzy of rug hooking. Your works caught my eye immediately – nudity, exposure, insistent invitations to have a good time. Are these textile works a social critique towards the commodification of sex? Are you laughing at those laughing at those laughing at ourselves?

You are translating something that attracts the eye at the same time that it would rather turn away, oddly domesticating both tendencies. If in the Abduction from the Seraglio the lovers save each-other, who saves your characters? Do they need saving at all?”100% real” - I can touch your images – some feel a bit rough around the edges, freshly glued and carrying that astringent smell of silicone.

I could not keep them in the office and as you started bringing them in, I had to hide them on the hallways. Enter the dolls. What a scare they gave me a couple of drowsy mornings, their bodies weighing idly by, but actively work-ing a presence around their human-like size.

I wonder, why is Iorgu the tyrant of the abyss, the aggressor? His arms are soft, a bundle of wool you made of him. Do your carpets ever come apart?

Your works are fluffy, but sometimes you want precision. There is a coarse texture around the letters that form the uncanny phrases on your rugs: Ms. Exclusivity, Scan here, Confidential and Horny Girls...  Breasts are exacerbated by green and red nipples complemented by grinning mouths and hungry-eyed faces that seem to would rather consume than embrace.

You are so focused on how we look at things that want to be looked at with disregard. There is a screen of a screen in your rug hooking, fetishized and laboured.

The ”Octopussy” work sends me thinking of all that hentai that we pirated as teenagers, secretly exchanging CDs and internet links.  Back then they seemed new and surprising, perhaps enticing and surely foreign – how calmly and benign our visual reality sets in.

Dear Megan,

See you at the opening,

C

//

In 2003, Romania was the leading European exporter of textiles to the EU market, with most of the clothing production taking place under the ”Lohn system”, which took advantage of the low  labour  force  costs  and  the  remaining  industrial  infrastructure  of  the  former  communist regime. With Romania entering the European Union in 2007, the Lohn system of production continued to extend to other, more cost-effective areas inEurope regarding the labour force, to countries such as Ukraine or Republic of  Moldova. Through the Clothes Enlargement art project, Matei Bejenaru devised an algorithm which shows how large the clothes should have been in rapport with more equitable pay at the time…
//

Talking about weather is not just a polite conversation anymore. It became religion, politics, it stirs belief-systems and induces doubts. Meteorology itself is a calculated risk of future chances, a science born out of the need to predict and control, to warn and to create anticipation.

The exhibition draws on the charged significations of storms, bringing forward a polyphony of topics related to unpredictability and social anxieties towards chaos and the unknown. The eye of the storm is the most serene and also the most dangerous place inside the tempest. Capricious changes in the atmospheric pressure shift the compressed sunny skies to thundering landscapes.

Yet the more weather forecasts share data of satellites hungrily collecting information, the more unstable our lives reveal themselves to be: there is a code red for everything, climate change -our material reality shifts. Even clouds are not what they used to be -they become metaphors of new mythologies being built in virtual, digital worlds where rain cannot drown-down streets and does not intervene in our daily commutes.

Knowing the weather and looking for shelter, two sides of a coin ignored or traded carelessly as other storms become more important than others. Let us be then in the middle of the twister -as unstable as it is, it is a privileged place, where the horizon line is always changing. From the eye of the storm, our gaze moves lazily in 360 degrees surveillance routines, plucking away from the rain and thunder. Swings from childhood games cast shadows of the past and we can dream everything is still possible.

Sunny skies, passing clouds, summer-is-here vibes. Or has it already gone by? –run-down neighbourhoods, the TV is flooding with talks about floods, there are more and more palm-trees in Bucharest.




//

At the cross-roads of the two themes, topography and habitation, we discover the process of photography itself and its link with the images it creates. The “Prut” project is preceded by the social practice in art of Matei Bejenaru, but also juxtaposes to a fervent interest in the materiality of the photographic medium, visible in the dark-room prints presented in the exhibition. The artist works with film, as part of his artistic engagement which means that Matei Bejenaru acts less as an ethnographer, as Hal Foster would comment (in The Return of the Real. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1996) and more of a critical observer of the absence of social justice for the Romanian rural community, often promoted in mass-media as a unidimensional reality. Year after year, ever since 2011, Matei Bejenaru takes photographs of houses, farmlands, community spaces and of the people from the counties aligned along the Prut river. Within the photo-portraits, their eyes gaze into ours, aware of the presence of the camera, of the gaze of the artist and of his presence in-between worlds.


There is no before and after in this narration, no linearity outside of the drawn contours that lead us from one  page  unto  another and  back  again  in  a  mysterious  succession  of  events.  Sometimes, silently, hidden from  our  sight,  an  elusive  silhouette appears,  covered  in  a  mantle  containing  its  whole world unfolded upon itself.






//

Encountering "the Other” is a matter of mirroring, a process that is accompanied by the fear of the unknown, the paralyzing doubt induced by change. Hatred comes easily, while the guilty party is always someone else, from or towards a desired territory. Therefore, this exhibition seeks out to explore the commonality, the familiar –albeit not a threatening word, home is at the core of the most violent conflicts. By accentuating absence, we relate to the current immigration and emigration crises and to their seemingly repeating histories of reactions: fears, violence, alienation.
It is not by chance that this exhibition is taking place nearby the former Jewish neighbourhood in Bucharest, which used to be situated alongside the Calea Văcărești –beginning of Calea Dudești areas, including the Traian connecting-street and Hala Traian (Traian Market). This area has been greatly impacted by demolition projects during the communist regime, with many modified, renamed or completely erased streets. Thus,after the trauma of the Legionary Rebellion from the 1940s, during which period the Jewish community in Bucharest has been especially targeted, the physical space has also been scarred. Home is therefore the main referent of an empty space, a void through which we are searching for a Paradise Lost or a mirage, a space in which we reach for comfort and that we are ready to defend.
The would-be-inn receives guests, reintroduces the codes of communication, of a community. Within layers of interpretation, we are able to explore micro-histories connected to a larger, recognizable stream, without being able  to  fully  discover  it:  the  history  of  the  neighbourhood,  the  history  of  Nae's  old-store,  the  past  of  the nationalised  houses  in  the  area,  the  past  of  the  surrounding  families,  the  story  of  past-destruction  and  of estrangement, of collective hope for a community and facing the fact that retrieving home is a process that can never remain neutral.



//

An  exhibition  that  captures  a  contemporary  sequence:  of  passages,  sometimes  visible  on  the  same work-surface, from the clear drawing, the controlled, correct work, to the mechanical, the repetitive, the continuous, a result of an unconscious unfolding of the mind.
//

Orit  Ishay  brings  previous  prints  of  her  work  into  the  exhibition  space,  uncannily  connecting elements from different spaces: the ceiling fresco of the gallery mirrors, darkly, another wall where a school for girls became the Musrara School of Photography and New Media. We see fragments of Israel, we see fragments of Bucharest from different years from her pasts visits and exhibitions at MNAC. The artist films a video in the gallery space in addition to a new series of still photographs that she  developed  during  her  residency  stay  this  month,  colours  are  desaturated  from photographical images to a point where the image looks like a digital scan of an object, of a bird detail from a stove, of a symbol carved into a decoration of the building. Through this apparently barren defragmentation, a stone lion meets them across a river unseen.



//

History  repeats  itself.  History  is interpreted.  Gradually,  the  individual  memories  emerge  from  the  central historical  discourse –they  reshape  it,  they nuance  it.  The  past  becomes  the  present  in  various  ways,  but memory  is  its  instrument.  Memory  operates at an  individual level, at a  collective level. It creates repetitions and conflicts, ellipses and spaces on top of which other memories are built.

Aurora Király faces a continuous reconciliation between an ever-changing past and an ineffable present. The bridge between them, the architecture of what she builds is made out of a commonly shared want to seize the moment  and  the  simultaneous  instinct  to  live  in  the  next  one.  Her  photographic  journal  is  bound  to  grow, develop further and leave traces in drawings, folds and cardboard, cut and pasted pieces of news, of histories she might have lived and of other spaces where we might
have met.

Aurora Király, Viewfinder Mock-up, Nirvana (2015)


//

Sunlight burns the retina ever so slightly every time we open our eyes. Seeing is also blindness.
Even now, while we  speak,  these  branches  feed  like  roots  clinging  towards  the  blue  soil,  from where the light falls, buried now in ourselves, the ones who see the inverse trees.



List of exhibitions and texts:

NEW NOW Short Poem Rumeurs de sociétés. Artists Chrystèle Nicot & Antoine Alesandrini
Letting the Days go By, Water Flowing Underground
. Artist Iosif Király
your sweetness is my weakness. Artist Megan Dominescu Artist book. Artist Iulian Bisericaru Same Histories. Artists Matei Bejenaru In The Eye of The Storm. Artists Dragoș Bădiță, Matei Bejenaru, Zoltán Béla, Iulian Bisericaru, Irina-Botea Bucan,Daniel Djamo, Oana Coșug, Larisa Crunțeanu, Stoyan Dechev, Belu-Simion Făinaru, Aurora Király, Róbert Köteles, Nicu Ilfoveanu, Adelina Ivan, Olivia Mihălțianu, Decebal Scriba, Doina Simionescu Prut. Artist Matei Bejenaru The Simultaneous Spaces of Absence. Artist Oana Coșug There Is A Lion Across The River. Artist Orit Ishay No One Is Home. Artist Belu-Simion Făinaru (In)visibility. Aurora Király. Artist Book. New Projects Portals. Artists Oana Coșug, Miron Ghiu, Adelina Ivan Elena Pîrvu, Doina Simionescu, Zoltán Béla Constructed geometries. space / time / memory. Aurora Király
Light Falls. Artist Dragoș Bădiță