Pracownia, Chisinau: When she experiences this…

"When she experiences this…"
8 1/2 Women Artists from Moldova

27.04.2013, Pracownia Karol Tchorek

Tusia Zhurminskaia (video), Tatiana Fiodorova (art-book), Nelly Vranceanu (bricollage, mail-art), Lucia Macari (object), Alina Radu, Aneta Grosu, aka Ziarul de Garda (mass-media), Cristina Prohorenco (graphics), Natalia Cebotari (photography), Valeria Barbas (sound-art).

20.00 – The screening of Tusia Zhurminskaia's 32 min. video "One day from our life".

The place itself, Pracownia, its dwellers and its visitors generated the idea for this show, and also, partially, its present potentially-nevermore-after state. The place is an installation in its totality. One can talk about it using words like "alive". The place is always rearranging itself lightly. A person who visits it on many occasions, might begin to wish to contribute somehow to this life of things. One might easily become obsessed with thoughts of reinstalling the installation, even if just for a while. Perhaps it is the rule of the place. It wants visitors to INTERACT with it, to give a feedback. Even though, perhaps, because of the memory that it physically holds within its archives and the resistance in time of the objects that are to be found in Pracownia, the flow of things here seems so "untouchable", almost "sacred".

This exhibition is an attempt to interact with Pracownia. And as it usually happens in a conversation, the communication takes place on a variety of levels.

Firstly, however, I took/borrowed something from the place. It was a piece of language, a citation from Mariusz Tchorek's manuscript. "If she could only experience this…" I've transformed it into a stencil. At a later date, I asked 9 female artists to send me their works. (Although some of them are not artists in sensu stricto). Most probably the creators, the above mentioned women, although fairly well known in their country, will not experience the atmosphere of this particular place, unless through their extensions, their art-works. None of them will be present in person at the opening.

These women were born in a place far-far east, that doesn't even exist on many contemporary maps. Some of them live in quite precarious economical circumstances. Last but not least, they are all women. And women should know their place! And yet they will be here, and although for just a few hours, Pracownia gives them the chance to express themselves, not just in a dialogue with the Pracownia, but also with Warsaw art-exhibition goers, with Warsaw itself. These works on display in Pracownia can be thought of as seeds. Perhaps, something interesting will grow out of them in time…
Perhaps some doors will open.

The idea for this show gained a denser substance when Sylwia Serafinowicz organized a screening in Pracownia of "Robin Hood Gardens (Or Every Brutalist Structure For Itself)". The film brought into the discussion the future demolition of an intriguing site in London. It coincided with the discovery in the web of a series of reportages done by Tusia Zhurminskaia, who like Martin Ginestié, the creator of the award-winning documentary shown in Pracownia, is involved in the covering of the demolition of the historical (pre-modernistic) center of the town she lives in, a territory much much farther East than London.

She records the people who struggle for the preservation of these old and beautiful buildings, and the ones interested only in material gains. In Zhurminskaia's words, the demolition of an old building is like the death of a child. This is why she feels obliged to take a stance. But the video presented in Pracownia "One day from our life" is about something quite different: the author's private life, a day from the real life of a young woman. Her films are a good example of the fact that even if there is something catastrophic when life merges with art, it is only in the revolutionary sense: becoming the Subject of those whose voice has been eliminated from public discourse. New media manages to give a voice to those marginalized, as was emphasized not just once by Krzysztof Wodiczko. It is worth recalling here also the words of Boleslaw Prus:

"Art  […] does not substitute delusions and illusions with the truth, but it brings out the beauty in reality and teaches us to find it in everyday life, which in the language of idealists, is called the" gray "and" flat >>".

Nelly Vrânceanu, trained as an academic painter, a former painting lecturer at the National Arts Academy. For a short period of time (2005-2006)she was intensely involved in a mail-art project, producing a great number of self-made postcards and developing quite a special relationship with this medium. On display there is a selected correspondence.

Lucia Macari is working among others on the relationship between contemporary art, finance and the national question. In the work presented here she shows how a new nation can participate in an international exhibition event like Venice Art Bienalle in a time of crisis. She suggested a nationwide participatory budget fund raising. She calculated how much money was needed to rent a modest place in Venice for the period of the Bienalle. She divided this amount by the country's population and received a small amount (63 bani – 15 groszy) that if donated by each citizen, her nation could rent a space in Venice and participate at the Bienalle. She designed a special coin for that occasion of 63 bani value.

For over 10 years, Alina Radu and Aneta Grosu have been the editors and columnists of, perhaps the most important critical weekly in their country – Ziarul de Gardă. The magazine is well known in their country for its strong stance on governmental official's corruption. Also, this is the only nation-wide publication that prints extensively articles on contemporary and critical art. Issues of their magazine have been exhibited as art works in the country's National Art Gallery "Constantin Brâncuşi". On April 27th, you will have the opportunity to see a few copies of the magazine.

The front page of this year's early April Issue, which was dedicated to the mass street protest from 2009, when the building of the Parliament and the Presidential Pallace were burned down. The first page of the magazine is presented in English translation. Although criticized for applying censorship, it is my strong belief that Alina Radu and Aneta Grosu are the most important critical artists in their country. The weekly they have founded and continue to publish is and continues to be their oeuvre.

Tatiana Fiodorova, one of the most internationally exhibited young female artists from her country. On display is the only English copy of an art-book and inserts, a homage to her father, a former marginal socialist-realist painter. Alongside the presentation of her father's biography and works, Fiodorova is appropriating in this compilation a lot of socialist-realism propaganda pieces of text.

Cristina Prohorenco is a fresh graduate of the Art Academy. Her art-decorish-like works/portraits might seem at a first glance to lack content, even though skilfully done. One of the portraits on display, however, is of an artist friend, Victor Ciobanu, who was imprisoned for an apparent small criminal offence some years ago, in the times when the alternative medias in their country were just emerging and had a very narrow audience. His story, like the story of many other prisoners more or less lawfully imprisoned in many newly formed eastern democracies, including artists as well, only marginally reached the public.

After Mr. Ciobanu left prison, he got back to his studies at the art academy. His graduation work was a large tapestry, entitled "The red of the eye". Mr. Ciobanu says that his work is quite realistic. Red is often the normal color of the eyes of imprisoned people. You can see a fragment of Mr. Ciobanu's work (purchased by a western collector) in the background of Prohorenco's work. The portrait is like a "visuospacial sketchpad" from the Baddeley model of working memory. Prohorenco says, she draws memories. The motive of the eyes from Mr. Ciobanu's work was transposed to Prohorenco's other works as well, although, she might not be agree with this stetement. Prohorenco also presents an ingenious visualization of what is called in cognitive science ascendent and descendent processing, and what she called "thoughts going up and down".

Valeria Barbas is a young award-winning composer and multi-media installation artist. Music plays a special role in Pracownia's ways. Barbas' symphonic as well as her "noise-poetry" works are another dimension of interaction with the space of Pracownia during this show.

3 years ago, when she was 27, the painter and poet Natalia Cebotari's life cardinally changed. She became disabled due to a brain tumor. The tumor was surgically removed. Natalia describes herself after the surgery as a "half person." One side vision and hearing loss. She had to relearn, to remember to walk and do the things that were once a routine. She is more or less rehabilitated at the moment. She had to stop painting and as a consequence began taking photographs. After the operation she decided to devote some of her time to charity as a volunteer. Whenever possible, she paints with children who undergo cancer treatment, or people who have been through complex surgeries. Sometimes Cebotari, together with the collective "Flacăra speranţei", goes to the country' s rural areas, and in villages, in the cultural clubs, teaches drawing. There are people who sing, and there is even a mini-puppet theater for which they make dolls out of paper.

The three works presented in Pracownia are as follows: "Becoming a doll." The process of doll making. Usually they prepare several "blank/ingot" copies, because the dolls wear out quickly. "Vehicles." Many villages in her native country lack men. The poor economic situation drives them out of the country in search for jobs and money. Often one sees women doing traditional male jobs. Finally, "A moment of childhood." The girl comes from a large family. Just a couple of minutes before Cebotari took this photograph, she had been blowing soap bubbles with the girl on the photograph.

I would like to thank Katy Bentall, Tusia Zhurminskaia, Tatiana Fiodorova, Aneta Grosu, Alina Radu, Natalia Cebotari, Cristina Prohorenco, Nelly Vrânceanu, Lucia Macari, Valeria Barbas, Wiola and Marcin Kowalscy, Victor Ciobanu, Vlad Mazureac, Leszek Rowicki, Agnieszka Rayss, Iurie Bradu and Wina Mołdawskie, and finally but not the least Katarzyna Rowicka-Ajder. Without them this exhibition would not have become reality.

  Teodor Ajder
 

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