ABOUT

Living Content is a curatorial platform that aggregates reviews on contemporary art exhibitions, that features interviews with artists, and collaborative limited editions. Based in New York, Living Content operates internationally through an expanding network of writers, artists and collaborators. Occasionally, LC organizes discursive events and exhibitions.
LC is a platform that centralizes information on contemporary art in the service of community and discourse.

REVIEWS

LC features selected exhibitions and maps the surrounding critical discourse by aggregating reviews, documentation and original content. Readers are also able to vote and submit their own reviews.

INTERVIEWS

Living Content features in-depth, well-researched interviews with artists in order to map out and highlight the concerns and interests that define our contemporary moment.

LIMITED EDITIONS

Sometimes, the interviews expand into collaborative limited editions created with artists.


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CASE STUDY BUCHAREST

 The LC 2018 Case Study brings you a condensed survey of contemporary art from Romania, highlighting a selection of practices by young artists who live and work in Bucharest. 

As a country awkwardly located between Eastern and Western Europe, with forty two years of communism under its belt, Romania has been caught in the last three decades between progressive, liberal forces, and patriarchal, traditionalist thinking. In the past two years the political situation has been fraught, with tens of thousands of people going out in the streets periodically to protest corruption and to ask for the government’s resignation. 

Without having a developed art market to fall back on, and with little to no institutional infrastructure and public funding to support their practices, artists in Bucharest self-mobilize in some of the most ingenious collaborations that I have encountered. They organize performances, durational events and concerts at artist run-spaces, they open their studios to visitors, and even organize intimate home-gatherings that take the form of artist-crits, or presentations. 

For this issue, Living Content created a set of questions addressed to artists Nona Inescu, Kristin Wenzel, the duo Alice Gancevici and Remus Pușcariu, Vlad Brăteanu, Vlad Nancă, and Daniela Palimariu, specifically to capture the art world in Bucharest through their eyes. The questions look both at their individual practices, and–in the case of Wenzel, Gancevici and Pușcariu, Brăteanu, and that of Daniela Palimariu–at the independent art spaces that they co-run with their colleagues in Bucharest: Template and Sandwich, respectively. 

I should add that this investigation was made possible by a generous curatorial residency organized by the space ODD in Bucharest, at Cristina Bogdan’s invitation. 

Nona Inescu, Introvert II, 2017, concretion, chrome-plated cage, leash

Nona Inescu

Living Content Can you tell me a bit about your artistic practice in a couple of sentences? What are your interests and concerns? 

Nona Inescu My practice is interdisciplinary and encompasses photographs, objects, installations and sometimes video works. Often informed by theoretical and literary research, my works are centered on the relationship between the human body and the environment, and the redefinition of the subject in a post-humanist key. I am interested in exploring the interaction between species, human and non-human, animal, vegetal and mineral. 

LC What do you think is missing from the art world in Bucharest or what would you improve? 

NI The art world in Bucharest is lacking several things. I would mention here financial support (public funds), a better working environment for artists (and here I am talking about the difficulty of finding and keeping an artist studio), and a relevant agenda and programming for the local art institutions. Bucharest is not an easy context to work in, especially as a young artist. It’s technically very difficult to be recognized as an artist on a state level. Compared to other European countries, there is no legal “artist” status, nor a clear way to pay taxes or medical insurance. You always have to go around things, by registering as self-employed or finding different entities through which you can be part of the legal system. I think the difficulty of finding a space to work in, is connected to this issue. On a social level, most people in Bucharest don’t recognize art making as legitimate labor so there is no real infrastructure for it. There are no subsidized rents for artists and no real government financial support. These are the things that I would improve if I was in a position to do so. 

LC What do you find interesting or exciting about being part of the art world in Bucharest? What do you think is unique about the context? 

NI The way I see it, the art world in Bucharest is quite small and divided into even smaller communities. I don’t feel like I’m part of any of these communities, but I try to maintain a formal contact with them. To be honest, I never relied on the local context to be legitimized and never followed any agenda just to be accepted. I believe that I have been quite lucky not to be bound by the art world in Bucharest, by having quite often the opportunity to activate outside of it, in a wider, international context. With the exception of a few courses in University and some group shows, I feel like the local context hasn’t really offered me that much. 

LC Romania has been going through some difficult times with all the political events that have been unfolding. Do you think that art – in the given context – could contribute in any way to making things better? 

NI Maybe I am a bit pessimistic but I don’t think that art making can help in the fight against corruption. Sure, you can make use of creativity during protests, but I don’t believe that exhibiting works in a gallery/museum/any art space can make a real difference, especially in the local context, where there is no representation of the interests of the art world in politics.

Nona Inescu, Crash Test Dummy (Passenger), 2018, coral, upholstered leather car seat

Nona Inescu, Where touch begins, we are, 2016, video still

Nona Inescu, Lithosomes, 2017, exhibition view at Exile, Berlin.

Nona Inescu, Reef, 2018, Archival print on Hahnemuehle paper

Kristin Wenzel, Model for a Pavilion #2, 2017, cardboard, wood, acrylic glass. Intervention in public space, Bucharest. © photo: Vlad Brăteanu 

Kristin Wenzel 

Living Content Can you tell me a bit about your artistic practice in a couple of sentences? What are your interests and concerns? 

Kristin Wenzel One of the central themes in my work is the search for identity. The search for one’s self, one’s origins, one’s place in the world. Born in Gotha, in 1983, I belong to the so-called “third generation of Eastern Germany”. I was born in the GDR and I grew up in the FRG with emblematic images of the mood and the time of transition. 

In contrast to the insidious changing trends in fashion and design, which are only in retrospective regarded as stylistic eras, aesthetic breaks are radically synchronized to instances of abrupt social change. These circumstances take place along the boundaries of design because production conditions and materials change, availability and consumer needs shift, and politics transform. The collective character repertoire laid out in public works of art, architecture, patterns, fonts, and product designs is much more than just a source of nostalgia. It becomes a code of a dispersed society. In my artistic practice I am using this kind of codes to raise questions about how memories are shaped and how they become part of our personal identity. 

LC You, Alice, Remus, and Vlad started Template, can you tell me how this came together and how you see this project in relation to your artistic practice? 

KW I came to Bucharest in 2017, for the second time as part of the program “Artist in Residence Bucharest AiR” which is run, among other people, by Alice and Remus. This is how we met and this was also kind of the starting point for our collaboration. For the final exhibition of my residency, I was working on a site-specific intervention in the city. I found an abandoned kiosk on a terrace of an old theater and I transformed it into an exhibition space for one week. So, before we decided to run an exhibition space together, dealing with public space, we already organized an exhibition quite similar to the project. I met Vlad during that Summer as well, and he was also interested in working with public space. Everything happened quite natural. 

LC What do you find interesting or exciting about being part of the art world in Bucharest? What do you think is unique about the context? 

KW In my opinion, Bucharest has a really interesting and vibrant independent art scene. One can find many different artist run spaces and initiatives, such as Tranzit or ODD (just to mention a few) that are creating a space, not only for artistic production and presentation, but also–more importantly–for dialogue and exchange. The scene is much more open and not as competitive as Düsseldorf, for example, where I used to live. Probably one of the things I like the most is that I am surrounded by artists who are supporting and encouraging each other. 

LC You recently moved from Germany to Romania. What do you think is missing from the art world in Bucharest? 

KW A Kunsthalle would be nice!

Kristin Wenzel, Model for a Pavilion #2, 2017, cardboard, wood, acrylic glass. Intervention in public space, Bucharest. © photo: Vlad Brăteanu

Kristin Wenzel, chapter 8, 2017, cardboard, paper, wood, paint, acrylic glass, print on silk, LEDs, 95 x 140 x 70 cm. CNTRM, temporary project space Berlin.

Kristin Wenzel, nothing, 2017, cardboard, wood, fluorescent lamp, 278 x 707 x 130 cm. Site-specific 

installation. Sightfenster, Cologne, © photo: Veit Landwehr

Alice Gancevici & Remus Pușcariu, Plague Dogs – Fit One, 2015, Two–channel video, Full HD, color, sound, 26’24’’, loop.

Alice Gancevici & Remus Pușcariu 

Living Content Can you tell me a bit about your artistic practice in a couple of sentences? 

AR We work in conversation. Our practice begins with collaboration both as driving force and research material. So far we’ve worked interdisciplinary, which also accounts for the fact that we’ve developed in different educational backgrounds, namely photography and theater directing. In our work we mainly use installation, photography, objects and moving image. In parallel, and as an extension to our art practice, we contribute to several collaborative platforms (such as Template, Bucharest AiR a.o.) which deal with the production of contemporary art. 

LC What are your interests and concerns? 

AR At the core of our thought process lies an interest in theatrics, language, behavior and power driven relationships. We look for limit-experiences in history and use these instances as pins in our research. Of course, history is a huge term and a narrative told in different registers, from written texts dealing with factual occurrences which were deemed important in the past (the convention of history), to literature or theatre and cinema (which fictionalize the convention), to memoirs and diaries ( which subjectivize the convention), to stories told (which shape the convention), to speculations and what-ifs (which annihilate the convention). In all this, one concern is that individuals would rather write off history as a thing of the past, irrelevant to their actual drives, choices and modes of action. 

LC Why did you decide to start Template and how do you perceive it as a project in relation to your artistic practice? 

AR We set out Template as a means to explore the notion of ideology as it is literally set in stone. Reading ideology through the lens of architecture allows us to see shifts in power at the level of society. Ideologies are also inherently theatrical, they change and return. However, architecture–the stage and set design of ideology–usually outlives it, and in doing so, it becomes testimony and evidence, artifact. But as declared ideologies of a state shift or turn, the ones historically embedded in architecture linger as echoes and shape the mindset of the user. It’s like the unstoppable force vs the immovable body in physics. This dichotomy is what ties to our practice and motivates our interest. With this being the premise, the artists we collaborate with–which create their own version of a given space/place–are actively reshuffling the narratives contained within the landscape. The multiple sequences of Template, propagated in time, would ideally create splinters of a play in which these surplus spaces (which are mostly illegal constructions dating from the wild wild west of mid 90’s Bucharest) become poetical correspondents or analogies to current state of events. 

LC What do you think is missing from the art world in Bucharest or what would you improve? 

AR One important thing that’s missing is funding opportunities for artists as individual practitioners, with little or no resources for long-term projects. Funding is highly bureaucratic and there’s a hierarchy to access it, which favors specific seasonal priorities and large scale cultural ‘frittata-style’ events above sustaining individual artistic research and development. 

LC What do you find interesting or exciting about being part of the artworld in Bucharest (What do you think is unique about the context?) 

AR There’s a gossamer veil of earnestness surrounding the artworld of Bucharest. Things are not yet fully institutionalized, fully sustainable, they are still ever-shifting. We don’t know yet if we’re excited or troubled by it, but it provides a network and context for open dialogue. 

LC Romania has been going through some difficult times with all the political events that have been unfolding. Do you think that art – in the given context – could contribute in any way to making things better? 

AR Romanian society is extremely polarized. This, of course, is not true only of Romania, but this country’s ideological and geographical position has always been in the middle. It’s like the rope in a tug-of-war between great forces, see-sawing between corrupted socialism and aggressive capitalism. This creates a state of anxiousness and irrationality which affects politics and society, making every individual choice arduous. It’s like a cruel social experiment, but it’s a space of discovery none the less. Could art make things better? It has power and so it could, but if it does, it does so in many different ways. In our opinion, the agency of art comes from it being able to show things as they are or as they could be, and never as they should be. We are interested in a practice that wrenches the object from the real world and places it in a context in which it can be manipulated, re-read, translated, re-shaped, speculated upon – a subject in continuous search for its own center, its point of emergence. 

Alice Gancevici & Remus Pușcariu, Transcripts, 2012, Installation of 30 sheets of recycled communist propaganda 

publications and bilingual newspapers (Bulgarian-Turkish) from the early 80’s. 

Alice Gancevici & Remus Pușcariu, Accent from the Wound, 2015, Installation, two-channel video projection, artificial muscle

Vlad Brăteanu, Remapping Bodies, 2011- 2017, photography

Vlad Brăteanu

Living Content Can you tell me a bit about your artistic practice in a couple of sentences? What are your interests and concerns? 

VB My artistic practice analyses conditions of plasticity, restraint and tension in the realm of biological processes. Through mapping concepts from cognitive sciences, my work examines and questions the layers of the unconscious, of memory and of perception. I’m working across different mediums: photography, text, and light installations. 

LC How do you see Template in relation to your artistic practice and interests? And how do you see it contributing to the art scene in Bucharest? 

VB Template came as an answer to the question: “what are the possibilities that the public space holds?”. I believe that Bucharest needs more projects that engage with a larger audience, beyond that of the art world. 

LC What do you think is missing from the cultural world in Bucharest? 

VB An art&science lab space could contribute to the diversity of the art scene. 

LC What do you find interesting or exciting about Bucharest? What do you think is unique about the context? 

VB Bucharest has a small but really effervescent and emerging art scene despite the given conditions. 

LC Romania has been going through some difficult times with all the political events that have been unfolding. Do you think that art – in the given context – could contribute in any way to making things better? 

VB I think Tamás Kaszás’ exhibition for Template #6, which happened to be during the time of the protests, was a good artistic statement; an alternative type of resistance. 

Vlad Brăteanu, Road E85, 2016, photography

Vlad Brăteanu, Road E85, 2016, photography

Vlad Brăteanu, Remapping Bodies II, 2018, photography

Vlad Brăteanu, Remapping Bodies II, 2018, photography

Vlad Brăteanu, prosthetic, 2018, mixed- media, Iaspis Residency Collaboration with Sanna Söderholm Unmarked Evolution

TEMPLATE BUCHAREST 

Template is an exhibition project initiated in 2018 by Kristin Wenzel, Vlad Brăteanu, Alice Gancevici & Remus Pușcariu, in Bucharest. The project activates various unused architectural structures located throughout the city, by rendering them as temporary, scaled-down exhibition sites. The spaces offer 24/7 visibility during the course of the exhibitions, which usually last for one week. Template invites and supports contemporary artists in producing site-specific work that is reflective of the physical, historical and/ or the economical features of each structure within its given context. 

Template #6: Tamás Kaszás, Every Practice Brings a Territory Into Existence, 2018, site-specific installation. 

Template #6: Tamás Kaszás, Every Practice Brings a Territory Into Existence, 2018, site-specific installation. 

Template #6: Tamás Kaszás, Every Practice Brings a Territory Into Existence, 2018, site-specific installation. 

Template #17: Andreea Peterfi, 2018, various materials / site-specific installation

Template #17: Andreea Peterfi, 2018, various materials / site-specific installation

Template #209: Jessica Twitchell, 2018, various materials / site-specific installation

Template #209: Jessica Twitchell, 2018, various materials / site-specific installation

Vlad Nancă, Signs (the separation of modernism from functionalism), 2018, Installation of 13 welded iron designs, 18 iron rings, plant pots and plants, 600 x 170 cm

Vlad Nancă 

Living Content Can you tell me a bit about your artistic practice in a couple of words? What are your interests and concerns? 

VN I am trying to understand the world around me, thinking both about public space and the outer space, about Italian radical architecture and socialist modernism, about the space race and the space force. 

LC What do you think is missing from the art world in Bucharest or what would you improve? 

VN Naturally, the first thing that one would complain about that is missing, is the lack of art institutions. But I would say that the existence of these institutions is a reflection of the reality of the art world’s main participants: which are the artists. I think that what the art scene in Bucharest is really missing is a larger number of artists that take themselves seriously, and who are putting a lot of thought and hard work into what they do. So, in short, I think that what we need is more art. Once we have that, then the institutions (museums or galleries, publicly funded or private), the collectors, the events, they are all going to match the quantity and quality of the art being produced. 

LC What do you find interesting or exciting about being part of the artworld in Bucharest? What do you think is unique about the context? 

VN Bucharest, as an environment for artists, can be depressing but also inspiring. This lack of institutions and funding can be a total disaster for some, but the (mess in the) public space, the urban chaos, and the architectural backdrop, can all be really stimulating. 

LC Romania has been going through some difficult times with all the political events that have been unfolding. Do you think that art – in the given context – could contribute in any way to making things better? 

VN In general I’m skeptical about art having an impact on the social and political life but with that being said, I think it takes a lot of creativity to shake things up a little. The way we protest needs to change all the time because the politicians and the kleptocrats are immune to it all. As it recently happened in Bucharest, they sent the riot police to divert and absorb the anger of protesters. Same goes for those who want to challenge the status quo by getting involved in the political arena, they need to be creative. But making “challenging” artworks in the comforting space of a gallery or a museum, patting each other on the back whilst we sip cheap wine at an opening, won’t change much. 

Vlad Nancă, Colonisation of space (afterFedorov), 2018, Murano mosaic plastered on MDF, 180 x 100 cm

Vlad Nancă, Together Again, 2018, Welded steel, black paint, mounted on plasterd MDF, 100 x 180 cm

Vlad Nancă, White Cube, 2015, ceramic tiles on plywood, silicone, 162 x 162 x 162 mm

Vlad Nancă, Endless, 2017, welded rebar, concrete, 40 x 40 x 185 cm

Daniela Palimariu, Small Accidents Café, 2018, metal, wood, paint, coffee, at Nicodim Gallery Bucharest

Daniela Palimariu

Living Content Can you tell me a bit about your artistic practice in a couple of words? What are your interests and concerns? 

DP I’ve always been quite playful in my work. My practice touches on delicate human preferences for both distance and proximity, where my need for privacy often complements a strong desire for shared experiences. Some pieces are to be used alone (like Cocoon), some only work when others join (like Pool Party). Although I am very serious about working in general, I try not to take things too seriously. By always leaving a bit of distance, an open question, or by not pointing out to anything in particular, I allow space for ambiguity. 

Every time I thought I found my way, my thing, my medium, I was proved wrong immediately, so I got over this need to define, to have a theme or a big message. I can’t make work about something that I can’t intuitively feel at first. I often work in series. For instance, I have been working on a kind-of-a series of Cafés, since 2012, a series of food-related events since 2011, and the same applies to another work “Nap Stations”. Looking back, I am pleasantly surprised by my good intuition in starting these projects years ago, a bit amused by their early naiveté, and also happy to mix and match older ideas with new ones. 

It’s all my personal playground 

LC Why did you decide to start Sandwich and how do you perceive it as a project in relation to your artistic practice? 

DP If my studio is my playground, Sandwich is an open-air disco. Or something like that… First of all, it covers my need to have a team that grows together. I’ve always wanted to be part of something like this and Sandwich is the perfect mix of hard work and super-fun-exciting-surprising projects. We invite people to see the hidden potential in what is basically a rusted corridor, invaded by tiger mosquitos in summer, and covered in snow in winter. 

Since opening Sandwich, I am better at organizing my time and ideas, at asking for what I need, at clarifying my plans. I also had to learn to step back from the artistic input and really give the invited artists their space – it is a continuous lesson for me! 

LC How do you see Sandwich contributing to Bucharest’s art scene? 

DP Maybe “contribute” is too pretentious of a word in our case. We like to say that Sandwich, as opposed to a stake dinner, is a hearty snack – and we all know that a well-made sandwich, at the right time of day, can make wonders. 

What I can say for sure is that new people come to see us every month, that most of our colleagues follow our program and off-site projects, even though Sandwich might have seemed as a joke right at the beginning. 

Sandwich attracted other art spaces towards Combinatul Fondului Plastic – the peripheral, former industrial area where we are located. Because we opened Sandwich, both visitors and art scene colleagues realized that CFP is not so off-center after all, and that its semi-derelict state is actually quite endearing. 

LC What do you think is missing from the art world in Bucharest or what would you improve? 

DP Some things are obviously missing, like substantial material resources, several internationally-relevant art institutions, (many) more commercial galleries willing to work with and support Romanian artists both here and internationally. Besides this, I would like to see a more professional attitude and more self-confidence in general. 

LC What do you find interesting or exciting about being part of the artworld in Bucharest? What do you think is unique about the context? 

DP Having said all of the above, I have no plans of moving away yet. Even before coming here in 2011, I was convinced that Bucharest had a lot of potential for my ideas to develop and for my practice to gain visibility. If you work hard on something that is truly yours and that you are honest about, I found that people will come around. Bucharest is not yet suffocating like other big art cities. People here are still curious, and it’s relatively easy to find a community in which you can develop and grow your practice. 

Another thing that impresses me is being next to people that have been doing this for much longer than I have, that have been through all kinds of difficulties, and who are still here, enjoying their work. This humbles me. One of the best examples is Alexandru – my colleague from Sandwich – who, having had experimented with several art spaces, mobile projects, and his own art practice for many years, still comes up with the craziest ideas, with the most energy and enthusiasm I have ever seen. 

LC Romania has been going through some difficult times with all the political events that have been unfolding. Do you think that art – in the given context – could contribute in any way to making things better? 

DP Art alone can’t change things on a large scale. It can, at most, be a trigger, an encouragement, maybe a short hiatus that puts things in perspective. I believe that art is able to create a common safe ground for people, but I am in no way a dreamer without a plan. With everything that has been going on in the last two years, it has been comforting and encouraging for me to attend art events, to see that life and work go on, and that people don’t step back, and don’t lower their expectations. So I guess it’s not art per se, but a combination of the right people at the right time, working towards something great, which happens to relate to art. That–yes–can make things better. 

Daniela Palimariu, Cocoon II, 2017, papier-maché, textiles

Daniela Palimariu, Small Accidents Café, 2018, metal, wood, paint, coffee, at Nicodim Gallery Bucharest

Daniela Palimariu, Pool Party, 2016, livable installation at Sandwich, wood, vinyl, water

SANDWICH BUCHAREST

sandwich is an artist-run exhibition space that inhabits an alleyway located between two utilitarian buildings, which serve as artists’ studios. The space itself presents a challenge with its restraining dimensions of 1.5 x 8 m (4.9 x 26 ft), but the artists who initiated this project regard these restraints as a resource for finding solutions, and they invite other artists to create site-specific installations that are suitable for outdoors. sandwich is located in the Combinatul Fondului Plastic–a former industrial site which is slowly transforming in an art district–and it was opened in 2016, by Daniela Pălimariu, Alexandru Niculescu, Cristian Răduță and Silviu Lixandru.

Daniela Palimariu, Pool Party, 2016, livable installation at Sandwich, wood, vinyl, water

Sandwich: Mike Nelson, Re-bar, wire-mesh, cross-hatch (Romanian heroes), 2017, wood, wire-mesh, found sculptures

Sandwich: Raluca Popa, Iarna pe uliță, 2016, oil on glass panels

Dan Perjovschi, World Attractions, 2017, magnets from all over the world

Dan Vezentan – Feed Me / No Gravity, 2016, wood, mirrors, gravel, red neons