Timișoara is a noteworthy Romanian city with a unique appeal and a vivid cultural life, which has been selected to be the European Capital of Culture in 2021. Keeping its Baroque essence and in the meantime embracing contemporary art manifestations are the current challenge when it comes to the urban identity of what is also known as ‘Little Vienna’.
Calina Gallery, Photo Calina Gallery
One of the trendiest spaces for contemporary art in Timișoara is the Calina Gallery, which for over a decade has been bringing together artists and art critics/writers/lovers. The venue has, between February and July this year, hosted a very engaging endeavour subtlety called ARTISTHETEACHER, organized by Bogdan Rață and Alina Cristescu. The project aimed to treat the relevance of the artist and that of the matter s/he uses in the artistic and educational act, while questioning whether art can have an educational role at all. How much the artist and the matter can convey and how important the dialogue is between the public, those studying art, and the artist her/himself, were further facets subject to interrogation. Featuring eight Romanian artists and a duo - Mihai Zgondoiu, Alexandra Pirici, Anetta Mona Chișa, Lia Perjovschi, Lavinia German, Lea Rasovszky, Rudolf Kocsis, Aurora Király, Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan - with different practices and experiences, its public program was rich in artist talks, performance debates, shows, presentations, and workshops.
Failed re-enactment of Claude Cahun's Medusa self-portrait by Aurora Király
I have previously mentioned (see Strong local positions at ATELIER 030202, Bucharest) the Bucharest-based artists Mihai Zgondoiu and Aurora Király. For ARTISTHETEACHER the latter showed a very intimate photographic series called ‘Failed re-enactment of Claude Cahun's Medusa self-portrait’, while Mihai Zgondoiu presented the public intervention ‘New Wall’. Neither work was commissioned for the program, the first was displayed in Bucharest in 2013, whereas ‘Lenin’s Sleep’ by Mihai Zgondoiu, a piece of his contribution to the project, was put on view in Bucharest in 2011 and in The Hague in 2014. The rest of his contribution consisted of ‘The new peace’ (a Picasso’s ‘Dove of Peace’ made of golden barbed wire), ‘To whom belongs Brâncuși? That is the question’ (a readymade out of a Romanian Leu bill), ‘Les Connaisseurs#1’ (a video related to the readymade) and a captivating artist talk.
Lenin’s Sleep by Mihai Zgondoiu
The charming performance artist and actress Alexandra Pirici has achieved high international recognition through her participations in the the 55th Venice Biennale, the 9th Berlin Biennale, the 10th Manifesta, the 12th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition, and the 5th Skulptur Projekte Munster, to name the most significant contemporary art exhibitions she has been up till now part of. Within ARTISTHETEACHER she held a revealing artist talk on May 25th titled ‘Enactment and remedial by means of one’s body in the information era’.
Another artist talk as part of the program was given by Anetta Mona Chișa and focused on art, food, politics, and metaphysics. The artistic duo Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan opened the show ‘Off-the-grid’ in June, the same month Lavinia German had started the photographic project ‘plan:film’ together with Cătălin Soreanu and had given a presentation concentrating on curating as an artistic practice.
Lea Rasovszky’s works are ‘characterized by a fresh roughness and rawness, albeit never taking delight in trash’ as Jörg Scheller puts it. The installation presented at Calina Gallery is representative for her artistic practice.
Installation by Lea Rasovszky
ARTISTHETEACHER was also thematically abundant. Hence, in an effort to reclaim the kitsch, Rudolf Kocsis came up with ‘Dressed Madonna’, an artwork which explores the hundreds of years old tradition of clothes designed to adorn the statues of Virgin Mary. Moreover, one of the topics approached by Lia Perjovschi, the founder and coordinator of CAA /CAA (Contemporary Art Archive and Center for Art Analysis), was ‘How to survive and prosper as an artist selling yourself without selling your soul’.
Dressed Madonna by Rudolf Kocsis
Albeit the layout of this gallery is that of a traditional white cube, the link to modernism being more than obvious, its program aspires to emulate international contemporary practices.
Bottom line, the identity of both the gallery and the city itself are in full flow; they will surely command a revisit in the years to come.
Text by Ana-Daniela Sultana
Photos Credit © Ana-Daniela Sultana
Str Marasesti nr 1-3, 300086, Timisoara, Timis, Romania
Ana-Daniela Sultana is a freelance curator born in Bucharest during the last decade of Communism, currently living and working in Bucharest and Vienna. She holds a MA in ecm - educating/curating/managing from the University of Applied Arts Vienna and is the co-founder of the MODELiER venue in Bucharest and the [ˈfæbrɪk] transdisciplinary organization in Vienna. Collaborating with creative communities and cultural institutions, her aim is to promote new or lesser known artists and their endeavours.