MNAC, Bucharest: Enchanting Views

Enchanting Views

10.10 – 23.11.2014

Romanian Black Sea Tourism Planning and Architecture of the ’60s and ’70s

Dalles Hall, National Museum of Contemporary Art

18, Nicolae Bălcescu Avenue, 1st District, Bucharest

Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm

www.mnac.ro

Opening: Thursday, 9 October, 7:00 pm

Curators: Kalliopi Dimou, Sorin Istudor, Alina Șerban

Enchanting Views is the first exhibition devoted to one of the most coherent and innovative projects of post-war modernity in Romanian architecture, namely, the tourist development of the Black Sea coastline during the 1960s and 1970s.

While the exhibition do not pretend to have an exhaustive view on the Romanian coastline planning strategies, it has attempted to put together a display able to capture the role played by this vast architectural endeavor and development in articulating a new vision of socialist modernity, directly reflecting on the implicit representations that leisure architecture projected in the visual and social space of the period.

Enchanting Views proposes a new reading of the visual and symbolic identity of the Romanian Black Sea coastline, placing architecture at the center of a time-specific visual culture, essential both to understanding the local tourism policies and the experience of modernity. Thus, the exhibition expands its research framework from the politics of space to the politics of image, revisiting some of the most important works of this architectural laboratory between 1957 and 1973.

Tracing the mise-en-scène effect of leisure architecture, a sensitive framework for the interaction between the discourse of the developer (the state), of the architect and of the user (the tourist), the exhibition records the manner in which the leisure program is integrated to the official mechanism of promoting the successful narratives of socialism. The “new objectivity,” reasserted by the architectural discourse, is accompanied, in the plane of visual representation, by the seductive language of formal expressions, by the clarity and expressiveness of design. Thus, leisure architecture as an autonomous visual territory manages to redefine the conventions of reading the ideas of modernity locally, without restricting them to a set of procedures and technologies, restoring the theme of the architect-author through the varied range of typologies and the aestheticism of the building solutions.

The experience of the coastline is an important episode of Romanian post-war modernity which needs to be analyzed in the context of the organized mode of spending the leisure time, of the rationalization of consumption and of the particular conditions of mobility of the tourist. Beyond the intricate interdependence between the ideological concerns, the state development policies and the architectural practices, the project underlines the integration of the leisure architecture program in Romania in a trans-national discourse, examining the dissemination of the concepts and principles of Western modernism in the socialist economy and reality and the particular manner of enforcement thereof.

The exploration of the seductive expressions of seaside architecture and the impact of mass tourism on society start from a careful reading of the socialist microcosm, describing the varied practices of representation of leisure architecture (as a collective recreational space and a setting of socialist utopia), the economic pragmatism (the tourist policies of the 1960s and 1970s, the interest for technologization and industrialization).

The design of the Dalles Hall display is conceived in the form of exhibition satellites which contain the archive photographs, a selection of case studies – architectural typologies and plans associated with a series of references circulated between both sides of the Iron Curtain, interviews, propaganda movies, and works by artists Ion Grigorescu and Nicu Ilfoveanu.

Related event

Seminar: Situating Modernity in the Black Sea Region. Trans-cultural Encounters, Ambivalent Maps and Leisure Architecture.

The National Museum of Contemporary Art

Izvor Street, no. 2–4, Bucharest

Tuesday, 4 November, 5:00 pm

Participants:

Elvan Altan, Architecture Faculty, Middle East Technical University (METU) Ankara; Irina Băncescu, University of Architecture and Urbanism “Ion Mincu” Bucharest; Anke Hagemann, Habitat Unit / International Urbanism and Design Department of Architecture, Technische Universität Berlin; Olga Kazakova, Research Institute of Theory and History of Architecture and Town Planning, Moscow; Carmen Popescu, Architectural History, University Paris I – Sorbonne; Michael Zinganel, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Academy of Arts Vienna.

Moderated by: Ana Maria Zahariade, University of Architecture and Urbanism “Ion Mincu” Bucharest.

The curators of the exhibition would like to thank the following for their unconditional support in the achievement of this project: Alexandru Bălan, Miruna Berindei, Corina Bucea, Christine Böhler, Anca Borgovan, Radu Calotă, Maria Derntl, Teodor Frolu, Kemal Ghengiomer, Dinu Gheorghiu, Ruxandra Gheorghiu, Irina Ghioca, Marina Hasnaș, Irina Iacob, Nicu Ilfoveanu, Iuliana Maxim, Rodica and Alexandru Panaitescu, Cristian Popescu, Gabriel Rădulescu, Octavian Ruse, Monica Sebestyen, Victor Sebestyen, Irina Tulbure, Vasile Țelea, Raluca Velisar.

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