Pocket Revolutions KF Gallery, Seoul, 2 – 18 April 2015
Artists: Matei Bejenaru, Anca Benera & Arnold Estefan, Irina Botea, Radu Cioca, Ștefan Constantinescu, Dana Popa, Florin Dan Prodan, Șerban Savu Artist Talk: Matei Bejenaru and Florin Dan Prodan
For nearly half a century, half of Europe was virtually ‘closed off’ from the rest of the world. It was lumped together in a great blur called Russia. The predominant colour was grey, the prime images were of scarcity, and the major fiction about it was James Bond fighting KGB. And winning. Concurrently, ‘Russians’ fantasized about Western jeans and sport shoes, the Pet Shop Boys and Radio Voice of America. This whilst standing in line for almost everything – bread, gas, shampoo, or when watching endless clapping for the Communist party and its beloved leader on black and white television. We lived in separate realms, in which the space of the ‘other’ disappeared from the cognitive map of everyday life. The divide was taken for granted on both sides and half of the continent was an almost ‘non-representable’ space, an intangible concept.
In 1989, the long-sought-after wish was granted. The end of the Cold War was recorded and celebrated on a global scale, but the revolutionary hopes swiftly dissolved in the cool waters of the free market and liberal democracy. 25 years later, we realise it actually changed everything, the impact of half a century of ideological conflict still permeating all forms of public and private life: from Middle Eastern geographies of repression to the narrative structures of Hollywood, from the civil war in Syria to the Edward Snowden affair, and from the LGBT rights protests in Russia to the military conflict in Ukraine.
Pocket Revolutions examined how contemporary Romanian artists comment on or make visible the spectres of the past and the personal revolutions experienced day by day in the fast-changing context of global culture and politics. Experimental, documentary or narrative, the works revealed a variety of approaches, addressing such topics as: memory and the lingering trauma of the totalitarian regime, the confusing economic transition, the tension between traditional ways of life and the ephemeral nature of new consumerist values, authenticity and change, fragmentation and reconstruction.