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  • Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation. http://www.theshowroom.org/ http://www.whw.hr/

Artists

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Vătămanu/Tudor

Most projects by Mona Vǎtǎmanu and Florin Tudor read both as case studies—critical visualizations of or material interventions into contemporary equations of labor and value, ownership and dispossession, ideology and unrest—and as intricately coded allegories of economic war or environmental devastation. The pyramidal world map being pushed, shoved, and incinerated in their film The Order of Things condenses a reflection on geographic objectivity and the “striations” produced by economic value. Footage of children setting fire to the thick piles of poplar fluff that litter the streets of Bucharest during spring functions as a negative image of rejuvenation, as a stand-in for owned property—which is experienced only as destruction by those who own nothing. This game, the object of which is to obliterate the quasi-immateriality of poplar spores and reveal the nothingness that they temporarily concealed, functions as an extension beyond the specific history and circumstances of the filming location and into the dialectic of value and valuelessness: other projects, such as ingots made of rust, literally conflate the signifiers of worth and expenditure. And the industrial venom that has drenched the valleys near the Romanian town of Rosia Montanǎ, preparing the ground for an ecologically cataclysmic gold extraction project and forcing the population into an upward migration towards the mountaintops and away from submerged villages, lends the static shots in their All That Is Solid Melts Into Air a dream-like quality that is accentuated by these images’ synchronization with a reading of the “Revelation of St. John,” the Bible's final chapter. This text enters into a peculiar relationship with the despoiled landscape—word and image alternate in relation to each other, exchanging the functions of figure and ground: apocalyptic prophecy profiled against devastated habitat, or figures of devastation profiled against the post-historical horizon of the “Revelation.” A roughly similar destabilization of the tandem between soundtrack and image can be observed in their earlier film The Trial, in which the transcript of the mock legal proceedings that led to the 1989 execution of communist president Nicolae Ceauşescu—a text that, in its dizzying circumlocutions, functioned as the founding document and hazy cornerstone of the democracy to which Romania endlessly transitions—is monotonously recited against the backdrop of communist urbanism’s endless façade of apartment blocks, appearing here as barriers to political agency rather than as walls delimiting habitation and privacy. Sowing seeds for bread on a desolate plot of land that bears the remnants of an industrial complex and looks strangely like an abstract battlefield effects a metaphorical reversal of the course of vegetal growth and social healing. This piece, The Wreck of the Earth, is the poignant archaeology of a convulsed landscape onto which human presence seems to imprint itself only as detritus and obstacle. Symbols of space pitting cosmological imagination against the partitions that structure the “here and now” of neoliberal times, as well as temporal and topographic divides collapsed in dysfunctional systems of measuring the contemporary experience, also feature prominently in the artists’ installation works, which often suggest the function of idiosyncratic, “‘bipolar” maps or other tools for a disoriented sort of navigation. As suggested by this enumeration of visual and conceptual strategies, Vǎtǎmanu and Tudor’s practice meanders in and out of a singular modus operandi, one that inspects the fractures and disparities that articulate a political topography, the forms and modes of enunciation that animate the conflicted histories of the contemporary.

 

M.M.

Florin Tudor

Born in Geneva, Switzerland, 1974.

Lives and works in Bucharest, Romania.


Mona Vătămanu

Born in Constanta, Romania, 1968.

Lives and works in Bucharest, Romania.


Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor collaborate since 2000. Their artistic practice spans diverse media, including film, photography, painting, performance, and site-specific projects. Their residencies include the BAK’s Research-in-Residence program in Utrecht (the Netherlands) 2009; FRAC Nord – Pas de Calais, Dunkerque (France) 2008; and the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (Poland) 2008. Vătămanu and Tudor also participate regularly in numerous festivals, screening programs, and curatorial projects.


Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2012     “The order of things”, daadgalerie, Berlin, Germany

2011     “Land Distribution”, Lombard - Freid Projects, New York City, USA

2009     “Mona Vătămanu & Florin Tudor, All Power to the Imagination!”, Vienna Secession, Vienna, Austria

2008     “Living Units”, Mercer Union, Toronto, Canada

2006     “Re-animating the city”, Cooper Gallery, Dundee, UK

2005     “Unitati de locuit”, CIAC, Bucharest, Romania

2004     “Consuming the City”, Kunstlerhaus Buchsenhausen, Innsbruck, Austria

2003     “Living Units, Project Room”, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary


Group Exhibitions (selected):

2012     “rites, thoughts, notes, sparks, swings, strikes. a hong kong spring”, Para/Site art space, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

2011     “Kind of Change”, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary

2010     “No New Thing Under the Sun”, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

2009     “Sounds and Visions”, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel

2008     “Dada East? Romanian Context of Dadaism”, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland

2007     “October. Exit, Memory and Desire.”, Artra Gallery, Milan, Italy

2006     “How to Do Things? - In the Middle of (No)where”, Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin, Germany

2005     “A Warlike People”, Monorchid Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

2004     „Formate / Moving Patterns“, Kunsthalle Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria

2003     “Border Device(s), insert in Border Counter / Multiplicity Collective, Utopia Station”, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy; Roomade Gallery, Brussels, Belgium

2002     „5 Senses”, CRCA, San Diego, USA

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues

 

Costinas, Cosmin, Winder, Jill, eds. 2009. Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor: Surplus Value. Utrecht: BAK [Exhib. Cat., BAK basis voor actuele kunst Utrecht (Sep. 6-Nov. 9, 2009)]

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