CRACIUN, Andrei, “100 ROMANIAN MINUTES”, exhibition catalog, PAVILION journal for politics and culture, 2009.
Being Romanian

Romania, the complex of European Romanians and the pride of Romanian Europeans, continues to place itself in the East, incapable of escaping the East-West hierarchy, curse of the Balkans- a linguistic invention adopted much too easily. The way of relating to the local,national, European, global reference points suggests the way we relate to our own nationality, excited by an unconscious nationalism, flat and autodestructive or tired of our own history and willing to deny it, paralyzed by the incapability of action.

Romanians assume the status of ideological victim of circumstances,reliving the traumas of communism, under the shelter of capitalism. It seems that democracy was too expensive for us to afford the luxury of delving into it; instead we afford the liberty of not getting involved, the liberty of not contributing, and the liberty of not choosing. We establish par-ties and we suppress the civil society. We dispose of responsibility and we invoke the right to suffer.

The shortcomings of the weary man seem to find their justification in our actions. We are Romanians, but not at any cost. We don’t sell ourselves for nothing: we accept the exchange of recognition, but we want much more than what we’re worth. The battle is fought between how we relate to others (Europeans- we actually refer to a certain part of the West) and how we see ourselves. We try to guard ourselves from the utopia of future that the communists had and the past-ridden utopia of the peas-ant tradition, in which the corruption of the city is inexistent. We try to look for something, to have the security given by the democratic institutions, not to give into elitism, not to despise the common man, prosaic and without great ideals, not to form an artificial society based on a fanatical elite. Residues of the macistic attitude still infect social, political, even cultural environments. The current elites are the former armies of informers, participants and active supporters of communism. On the other hand, a society in which everybody works for themselves is condemnable. But not as condemnable as a society that has no-one to work or fight for. We give the impression that all heroes have died before reaching the battlefield. A grim, tel|uric and hidden scenario doesn’t allow us to see the future in a humorous and sympathetic way.

Are we willing to accumulate? We are learning to be good Europeans,good citizens; our country, we fight to make it the best of all possible ones. The English sociologist, Ralph Dahrendorf, said, in 1991, after the fall of the communist regime in Eastern Europe: “To become a democracy you need three things: a constitution, an economic system and a civil society. The constitution can be made in six months, a market can be built in six years, but a civil society requires two generations”. Are we skipping stages? The child doesn’t accept the parent’s mistakes, but heal ways finds an excuse for them. History broke in two. “Before”, “that time” and “after the 90s”, “after the revolution” shout some, justifying their forgetfulness, trying to divide the world through their experience.The world, as we all experience it, didn’t end in ’89 and it didn’t begin in1990.

The Romanian artist, connected to his/hers own roots, assimilated by the system in which he/she is constrained to work, assumes the role of participant, but this time an active one. The video medium, utilized this time for its documentary character, facilitates the critical discourse. The work, in its final form, remains the proof of the artist’s actions, document of the performance and plays the part of the mirror of society. The artist,entrenched in his/hers own history, is reluctant to become a craftsman:the Romanian artist does not imitate or transcribe, calculates but not deduces, arguments but not represents. Aesthetics become politics.

The Romanian artist creates ex nihilo because one has the vocation, as in the care to freely choose the goal of one’s creations, according to one’s own expectations. One creates one’s own reality with different rules that, most of the time, don’t apply to the real world, the world of the artist is the world where creativity and reason aren’t constrained by any-thing. For the Romanian artist it’s easy to give up the nationalist pathology that would proclaim as supreme value one’s history, culture or superiority over other cultures and nations and that is because the Romanian artist criticizes one’s country and is socially and politically involved in the process of reengaging one’s own history. Invoking European, international values, one projects light onto what Romania keeps in the dark.Through one’s work, what is obscured becomes clear, what is normal becomes sinister. The artist presents the world a country that only Romanians know, a country beyond the European borders, an unintegrated country, assimilated tacitly through compromise.

Bucharest- reliving the memory of “Lime Paris”, is rediscovering it self as a city with its own identity and life, a city that has consumed its past values and status. We don’t talk of psycho geography. We talk of the failure in the state of progress, of a metamorphosis of the city or of an imposed imaginary, auto flagellated, imagined up to the point where we become movie scenes that don’t belong to us. We are main characters,parallel to the reality where “something” tends to unfold.

Self-criticism and auto-irony are the instruments of the Romanian artist, the result being the self-criticism and auto-irony of society. The artist underlines, draws attention and makes room for inquiries. We become immigrants. Their immigrants, of those that we wanted to be. Romanians seem to want to be themselves, a sort of artificial transposition into something that we don’t understand. The immigrant is the one that suffers. We go everywhere and it seems that everything slips away. We live suspended in an absurd temporality, but on a safe ground.

The contemporary Romanian artist seems touched by the melancholy and fatalism of trying to justify the past through the analysis of rethinking it, trying to question its authenticity, authority and validity. No matter if these artists are actors in famous movies, immigrants in the battle with the “other”, hidden participants in the destruction of a status quo, no matter if they mock reality or get involved in the emotion of the present,they all want to contribute to the new history.

Curated by Andrei Craciun (RO)
Participating artists: Stefan Constantinescu, Teodor Graur, lon Grigorescu, Ciprian Homorodean, Sebastian Moldovan, Corneliu Porumboiu.

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Andrei Craciun (b. 1988) is a curator and theoretician, studying architecture at University of Architecture and Urbanism “lon Mincu”, Bucharest. His research and curatorial practice is focused on the relations between architecture, politics and the social sphere. Consequently, he is interested in areas linked to activism, gender, as well as participative architecture. Among his last curatorial projects is “100 Romanian Minutes” (Bucharest, Cluj, lasi, Timisoara). Currently he is working on his new curatorial projects “Utopia of Exotic” and “Destroying Public Harmony”. Since 2008 he is the coordinator of PAVILION UNICREDIT – center for contemporary art & culture and he was appointed as assistant curator for BUCHAREST BIENNALE 2010. Living and working in Bucharest.