• 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.


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Pavel Brăila

If one were to write a brief history of art in Romania and Moldova during the 1990s, then performance art—with its various manifestations such as the happening, the action and the intervention—would represent one of the most important chapters. Performance art was a testing ground for young artists, giving them a chance to experiment beyond the traditional disciplines in which they had been educated as well as providing a place in which to interact with an older generation of artists who had practiced it, mostly in seclusion, during the years of socialism. It was stimulated by festivals dedicated specifically to it, such as Zona in Timişoara and Periferic in Iaşi, as well as by artistic summer camps  such as AnnArt in Romania and Carbon Art in Moldova, where artists often had to adapt and react to a rural environment. Outside the two countries, it was framed by large-scale exhibitions that featured artists from the region such as “Body and the East” (Ljubljana) and “After the Wall” (Stockholm).

It was in this environment that Pavel Brăila began his career and to which the fresh, immediate character of his early performances is indebted. Though imbued with a strong physical presence, these performances were not focused on the body itself. Instead, through the act of performing, the artist’s body acted as a filter that was used to communicate with surrounding elements, with nature and with his present (albeit possibly invisible) audience—without, however, aspiring to turn the whole action into a transgressive experience, as many of the performance artists of the time attempted to do. Pavel Brăila was apparently staging rituals, but they were rituals of the absurd kind, revealed during their performance as having been generated by popular fantasy rather than embedded in tradition. At the same time, performances were recorded as videos using a VHS camera, thus being turned into documents as well as into video art. In his subsequent projects, Brăila maintained his allegiance to both performance art and video, but kept the two genres mostly separate: he kept performance in its realm of untranslatable experience and used the video camera at a comparatively high level of technical sophistication, closer to the practice of filmmakers than to that of experimental video artists. While quite a bit of present-day performance art is realized solely for the purpose of documentation, with technology having been democratized, the early works of Pavel Brăila are testament to a time and a geographic region in which video recording was something rare and precious, akin to the unrepeatability of the artistic action itself. As such, these works are not really confined to a specific time or geography: even if they were grounded in the very concrete reality of the place where the artist was living then, these works are formally both far more universal and less contingent than the ones from the following decade.


Born in Chișinău, Moldova, 1971.

Brăila graduated in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Moldova in 1994; in Translation Studies from the State University of Moldova in 1997; from the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (the Netherlands) in 2001; and from Fresnoy – Studio National des Arts Contemporains in Tourcoing (France) in 2003. In 2001 he was Artist in Residence at KulturKontakt Austria. Brăila has received the Award of the region Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany) for his film “Definitively Unfinished” at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. In 2002 his film “Shoes for Europe” was shown at documenta 11. In 2007, as an artist in residence at the “DAAD Artists in Berlin Program” Braila presented his installation “Barons’ Hill” at the New National Gallery in Berlin (Germany).

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany, and Chișinău, Moldova.

Solo Exhibitions (selection):

2017 Eastwards Prospectus, Bucharest, Romania

2012 Art Point Gallery, Vienna, Austria

2010 “Pavel Brăila, Chisinau-Braila-Sibiu“, National Museum Brukenthal, Sibiu, Romania

2009 “Source“, Gallery Jan Dhaese, Ghent, Belgium

2008 “Want“, Gallery Yvon Lambert, Paris, France

2007 “Pavel Brăila: Barons’ Hill“, New National Gallery, Berlin, Germany

2006 “Pavel Brăila", Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Austria

2005 MIT List Visual Arts Center, Boston, USA

2004 “33 Revolutions Per Minute“, Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris, France

2003 Kunstbuero, Vienna, Austria

Group Exhibitions (selection):

2017 documenta 14, Athens, Greece / Kassel, Germany

2015 "Project 35: The Last Act", Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia

2014 "Sights and Sounds: Romania", The Jewish Museum, New York, USA 

2013 "Matters of Mehtod",, Prague, The Czech Republic

2012 “A Tribute to the Typewriter: The Ink Ribbon’s Fingerprints“, Vienna Technical Museum, Vienna, Austria

2011 “Faux Amis / An Ephemeral Video Library“, Jeu de Paume, Paris, France

2010 “Outrageous Fortune: Artists Remake the Tarot“, Holden Gallery, Manchester, UK (travelling exhibition)

2009 “A Pair of Left Shoes - Reality Check in Eastern Europe“, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Bochum, Germany

2008 “Don’t Worry - Be Curious“, Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg

2007 “Time Code“, MAMbo Bologna Modern Art Museum, Bologna, Italy

2006 “Why Pictures Now“, MUMOK Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria

2005 “Do Not Interrupt Your Activities“, Royal College of Art, London, UK

2004 “DELAY“, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

2003 “Blood & Honey - Futures at the Balkans“, Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria

2002 documenta 11, Kassel, Germany

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

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Eiblmayr, Silvia, Erharter, Christiane, Limbeck-Lilienau, Elisabeth, Muttenthaler, Roswitha, Zuna-Kratky, Gabriele, eds. 2012. At your Service : Kunst und Arbeitswelt = Art and Labour. Salzburg: Fotohof edition. [Exhib. Cat., Technisches Museum Wien (Mar. 23, 2012-Mar. 03, 2013)]


Milovac, Tihomir, ed. 2009. Ein Paar linker Schuhe = A Pair of Left Shoes : reality Check in Osteuropa = Reality Check in East Europe. Bochum: Kunstmuseum Bochum. [Exhib. Cat., Kunstmuseum Bochum (May 23-Aug. 02, 2009)]



Other Media


Braila, Pavel, Herta, Angelika. 2013. Talking letters : a film on the Romani language. Romany with English subtitles. Bucharest: Alte Arta, 1 DVD (54:10 min.)


KulturKontakt Austria, ed. 2012. Chişinău - City Difficult to Pronounce. Concept by Annemarie Türk. Vienna: KulturKontakt Austria, 1 DVD (57:25 min.)
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