Romanian Pavilion HotShoe Gallery, London 15 May – 18 June 2010
Artists: Dan Acostioaei, Sebastian Moldovan, Joanne Richardson, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor
Romanian Pavilion brought together five Romanian video artists whose works addressed Ceaușescu’s failed utopian social experiments and subsequent dehumanizing conditions, with an emphasis on the reality of built environment and private life in Romania.
Any utopia is obsessed to rehabilitate man and condemn him to happiness, to make a tabula rasa of the past and to install the reign of the new self, the perfect polis of human beings. The totalitarian regime in Eastern and Central Europe did the same: for almost half a century, it built new cities for the ‘new man’, displaced in flats that look almost like prison blocks. Drawing its inspiration from Le Corbusier’s and Gropius’s rational architecture, modernist social housing was applied widely in Eastern Europe in the ’60s, but its profoundly alienating consequences have become evident after the ’90s, alongside the emergence of capitalism.
In Romania, the tensions between past and present are everywhere: ‘anything goes’ architecture mushrooms next to Stalinist substantial buildings, lavish casinos and precarious kiosks are built one over another, fast food restaurants and supermarkets replace old shops throughout urban areas. Ideas of territory and identity are continuously shifting, altering perceptions of space, human relationships, social and individual life.
The works in this exhibition examined how video art reflects, extends and manipulates private and historic remembrance associated with the period of transition. The exhibition aimed to illustrate not only how the medium is used to portray the post-communist Romanian reality, but also how this reality, in its varying states of political, economic and cultural development, portrays facets of the medium.