03.07. - 04.08.2019

Contributions by: Horia Bernea, Andrei Cădere, Florina Coulin, Jindřich Chalupecký, Andrei Gheorghiu, Ion Grigorescu, Octav Grigorescu, Pavel Ilie, Matei Lăzărescu, Julian Mereuță, Paul Neagu, Simona Runcan, Decebal Scriba, Emil Simiu

This exhibition is a proposal that tests its own approach and methodology and which accepts its own inevitably fragmentary nature, which is induced by instances of institutional conditioning, as well as the intrinsic volatility of the subject. It consists of reflection on a phenomenon examined all too little in the context of contemporary art from Romania: the migration of Romanian artists to the West during the communist period, and focuses in particular on late 1960s and the 1970s. Restricting the scope of the examination even further, it is important to point out that what is highlighted is the careers of artists active in Bucharest before emigrating to the West at various points. Some are figures well known internationally, albeit not yet fully assimilated into the canons of world art history. At the same time, what is brought to attention is artistic practices, episodes, and contexts that are insufficiently known and call for necessary re-evaluation. In certain situations, the artists in question decided to make a complete break with the Romanian art scene and their previous interests, while in other cases there are obvious continuities and connexions with artistic circles and friends from Romania that lasted decades. Sometimes, there are also circumstances where prolonged contact with the realities of the West prompted reconsideration of the original decision to “remain” there.

This multiplicity of positions yet again reinforces the complex dimension of this subject and the difficulty of classifying it within a rigid framework. But no matter how complicated such an initiative might prove to be, it is aimed at drawing to a vast social and cultural phenomenon—emigration and exile during the Cold War period—that is essential to an understanding of the way in which the arts were configured in Romania, with an undeniable impact on the stage they have reached today. In the present age of global migration, when mobility and human interactions unfold according to completely different coordinates, it is important that we remember a period when the chance to travel abroad could completely and irrevocably change the course of a person’s life. Reactivating the memory of those decades today becomes all the more necessary given that we find ourselves at a turning point, in which we are urged to reflect on the change of the political regime in 1989. In regard to the intersection of East-West viewpoints that such a project reveals, an important line bringing together multiple positions is the articulation of a critical, lucid perception of the West, also throwing into relief the issue of the failure to adapt—sometimes compounded by a conscious refusal to do so—to the artistic mechanisms of the “free” world.

The method chosen continues the path already opened up by the Salonul de proiecte, holding historical exhibitions that bring to bear varied materials and engaging in a curatorial approach that is closely bound to re-contextualisation and the production of historical narratives. This type of visual exploration constitutes an open field of research, bringing to the fore documents, texts and eyewitness accounts, but also one which, at least in this instance, comes to reveal its own inconsistencies, no matter how indirectly. The scarcity of sources, of material traces, the insurmountable difficulty of representing human experiences, the complex psychology of exile are integral elements of this fabric of voices and artistic positions, which articulates a striking message about the present and the need to conceive new historical constructs.

Part of the research conducted for this exhibition will be included in a project curated by Salonul de proiecte at CC Strombeek, Belgium, in the framework of the Europalia Festival.

The title represents a sentence written by Andrei Gheorghiu in a letter addressed to Ion Grigorescu in 1987.

Special thanks to: Irina Bitzan, Sandra Demetrescu, Ion Grigorescu, Marian Ivan, Ioana Măgureanu, Radu Manelici, Anca Oroveanu, Mihai Pop, Tomáš Pospiszyl, Raluca Romanescu, Decebal Scriba, Emil Simiu, Ovidiu Șandor, Diana Ursan

With the support of: Art Encounters Foundation, Timișoara; Plan B Gallery, Cluj / Berlin; Paul Neagu Estate, London; The Museum of Czech Literature, Jindřich Chalupecký Fund, Prague

This exhibition is organized by the Salonul de proiecte Association, as part of the project Migration and Mobility: Recent Histories..