THE PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE AND HISTORY WITH A SMALL H
06.03.2019 - 14.04.2019
An exhibition by Alexandra Croitoru
Special guest: Cristina David
This exhibition continues the series of public events connected to the Mihai Oroveanu Image Collection that Salonul de proiecte launched in 2018. The selection focuses this time on aspects of the everyday and social life in the communist period, with an emphasis on the 1970s and 80s, and features images drawn from areas such as design, advertising, commerce, fashion, and tourism. The exhibition aims to create a deliberate tension between official images produced for public communication and photographs that capture situations, moments, characters that sooner reflect real life. In both the one case and the other, the photograph entails different manners of staging, harnessing codes of greater or lesser rigidity, and the combination of official and unofficial, formal and informal, approaches allows the viewer to construct her own nuanced perspective on the epoch in question. A substantial proportion of the images can be attributed to Mihai Oroveanu, who in the 1980s worked as a photographer for Publiturism, a context in which he was also interested in documenting what lay beyond the filters and constraints of standard representations.
Although the epoch in question is judged harshly by some of those who lived through it, in recent years it has been rediscovered from the perspective of a lifestyle that values the “retro” culture of the 1970s and 80s. The exhibition tries to strike a balance between these ways of reading and understanding the past. However, the past is only partly revealed through investigation of photographic images, and the exhibition gains an added dimension thanks to an installation conceived by Alexandra Croitoru, which transposes visual fragments of oral history. What is highlighted thereby are mechanisms that bring back to light the economy of desires, the fetishization of objects from abroad, and the alternative circulation of goods, against the backdrop of the poverty and austerity that marked late socialism in Romania. This phantasm of prosperity acquires different dimensions in the present, since access to desirable goods and experiences is today limited by financial privations and social and economic inequalities. Throughout the exhibition, in a series of performances that will enlist the participation of the public, Cristina David will reflect on these limitations, which constantly loom over the horizon of expectations that each of us constructs for ourselves.
The images in the exhibition are presented with the permission of Anca Oroveanu, the owner of the photographic collection. The authors of the photographs have been named wherever it has been possible to identify them.
The volumetric letters retrieved from the front of Bucharest’s Victoria Department Store are from the collection of Octav Avramescu.
Special thanks to: Octav Avramescu, Robert Băjenaru, Matei Bejenaru, Serioja Bocsok, Cosmina Chituc, Cristina Cojocaru, Cătălin Năstăsoiu, Anca Oroveanu, Andrei Pripasu, Larisa Sitar, Eugen Vasile