The 6th edition of IEEB is addressing issues of ecology. Ecological Thinking and Practices is the general theme of the edition that brings forth a variety of environmental subjects. Artist’s thinking and production function as a tool for observing, criticizing and revealing aspects of our life that are sometimes slightly debated, going unnoticed, being subject to ignorance or power relations, therefore left marginal. Thinking ecologically represents an imperative for our civilization today, the parallel process between thinking and acting accordingly providing the context for further political and ethical debates. The works presented in IEEB6 will address questions, perhaps also offer answers to problems regarding our relationship with the environment. The art production itself is starting to include ecological materials. The specificity of printmaking means the useof acids harmful for the environment, but today other possibilities are at hand including non toxic, water based ink, ink without animal ingredients, organic paper with a large quantity of recycled material, less chlorine and so on. Current events in Europe such as Rosia Montana, fracking and animal protection rights in Romania, Gezi Park issues in Turkey to which we add other aspects around the world like tropical deforestation, massive industrialization, water pollution, non-environmental living and architecture, influencing global warming, climate change forced migration repesent imperative aspects for human conscience reaction. IEEB6 intends to represent a platform for these concerns, from different points of view.
Javier Martín-Jiménez (the main curator) (b. 1978, Madrid) is president of the cultural association Hablar en Arte (www.hablarenarte.com) and responsible for the management of such projects as Ingráfica – International Platform for Graphic Art and Other Forms of Multiple Art (www.ingrafica.org), Lugares de Tránsito (www.lugaresdetransito.net), and Jugada a 3 bandas (www.a3bandas.org). He has curated a number of exhibitions, including Bajo techo: Cuatro estadios de intimidad (works from the Community of Madrid Collection, CA2M 2008); Reproduction, Repetition and Rebellion: Multiplicity in Spanish Emerging Art (shown in 2010 and 2011 at the Instituto Cervantes in Vienna, Austria; the National Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu, Romania; the International Centre of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Akademija – Centre for Graphic Art and Visual Research and The Windows Gallery in Belgrade, Serbia; and the New Contemporary Art Museum in Zagreb, Croatia); El Reto Ingrávido (Ingravid, Contemporary Culture Festival of Emporda, Figueres, Spain, 2010) and The Intervened Library (touring Spain 2012–2013). Besides, he is the curator of the exhibition Password: Printmaking, together with the curators Sofie Dederen, Daina Glavocic, Jaanus Samma, Marta Anna Raczek-Karcz and Božidar Zrinski (MGLC Ljubljana: 17.4.−26.5.2013; FMC Kasterlee: 9.6.−28.7.2013; MCG Krakow: 8.8.−22.9.2013; CIEC Foundation Betanzos: 10.10.−25.11.2013; MMSU Rijeka: 10.12.2013−25.1.2014 TPT Tallinn: February−March 2014). He holds a degree in Art History from the Autonomous University of Madrid. He was the general coordinator of PHotoEspana 2007 and previously directed activities for PHE06 and PHE05.
Adriana Oprea is a Romanian critic and art historian. She signes reviews in Romanian magazines 22 and ARTA, collaborates with artists and art spaces, curates exhibitions. Since 2006 she works as a researcher and curator in the Archive’s Department of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, where she documents the activity of contemporary Romanian artists. Since 2010 she pursues a PhD research on Romanian art criticism and the status of the Romanian art critic during Communism. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. Adriana Oprea lives and works in Bucharest.
Olivia Niţiş (b.1979, Bucharest, România) is a curator and art historian. She is a researcher at the Institute of Art History „G. Oprescu” of the Romanian Academy and vice-president of Experimental Project Association. She has recently published her PhD thesis focused on Marginal Histories of Feminist Art, The Western Inheritance in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe: Influences and Differences, at Vellant publishing house. She has curated many local and international exhibitions among them in 2013 Good Girls. Memory, Desire, Power with Bojana Pejić at MNAC (National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest).
IEEB6 - the main exhibition
The Conquest of the Impossible (curator: Javier Martín Jiménez)
(13.12.2014 - 28.02.2015) The "Brancovan Palaces" Cultural Center in Mogosoaia - the Main Building
Artists: Javier Arce (Spain), Sara Bjarland (Finland), Pedro Luis Cembranos (Spain), Emma Crichton (United Kingdom), María García-Ibáñez (Spain), Mito Gegic (Slovenia), Jerónimo Hagerman (Mexico), László Hatházi (Hungary), Kaszás Tamás (Hungary), Liudmila & Nelson (Cuba), Ángel Masip (Spain), Elena Nieto López (Spain), Misha de Ridder (The Netherlands), Belén Rodríguez González (Spain), Julia Rometti & Victor Costales (France), Zoé T. Vizcaíno (Mexico).
In 1971, two years after man’s first landing on the Moon, the United States’ Apollo 15 mission again carried several astronauts to a lunar destination. That was the fourth visit and there would later be a fifth, so in all, twelve men have walked on the Moon. Apollo 15 made James B. Irwin the eighth man on the Moon and the experience of outer space changed his perception of life. He returned to Earth with a clearly mystical bent: “This experience has made me feel the power of God, something I had never felt before,” he said at the time. A year later he founded the Christian religious group, High Flight, and he went on to spend much of his life seeking Noah’s ark. In the nineteen eighties, Irwin led seven successive expeditions to Mount Ararat, where the Bible vaguely states that the ark finally ran aground. Ararat is located in an isolated part of Eastern Turkey, a strategic space during the Cold War and still a military zone today. Its altitude and inclement weather, as well as its limited access – for political and military reasons – prevented Irwin from reaching his goal. Moreover, he very nearly lost his life in two different accidents, once while climbing the mountain and again while flying over the area. Irwin died of a heart attack in 1991 at the age of 61. He was the first lunar astronaut to do so.
The Conquest of the Impossible is a group show by 16 artists who explore humankind’s relations with Nature. It is a broad but incomplete exhibition, much like Irwin’s inconclusive odyssey. It could be expanded with more examples that study the multiple ties that relate humans and their environment. The selected projects weave a network of nodes that connect each with the others in a very modular manner. One cannot speak of the show in terms of a beginning or end, but rather in terms of the multiple connections among its works. The life of James Irwin exemplifies many of these artists’ interests: sublimation of beauty, awareness that they are part of a natural whole, ambiguity between earthly and divine, confrontation of original and artificial, desire to overcome and conquer, a chimerical struggle against the elements, fascination with the unknown, uncertainty about the future, natural laws that escape human control and the infinite damage inflicted on the environment by civilizations.
Regarding history’s first artificial satellite, Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote: “After Sputnik, there is no nature, only art.” Belén Rodríguez worked with this sentence in her contemporary meteorites, which include phosphoric elements and current refuse such as bits of plastic; and also in her drawings of implosions/explosions of colored objects, where the esthetic merges with chance and the unforeseen. Zoé T. Vizcaíno focuses her research on a physical phenomenon similar to the result of shockwaves. Here, it is the powerful centrifugal force of the Maelström, that large whirlpool off the northern coast of Norway’s Lofoten Archipielago in the province of Nordland. The artist has mapped this natural phenomenon with fourteen “landscape units” that capture frozen moments from such chaotic and hypnotic force. Ángel Masip proposes landscape as a vital experience. His work is characterized by various ambiguities: natural versus artificial, image versus copy (positive or negative), consciousness versus unconsciousness, and so on. He also plays with the layers of an image, as well as with its transparencies and shadows. All of this hampers the perception of what has been painted or printed. Javier Arce’s investigation stems from a stay on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, one of the few “earthly paradises” that retains part of its original virgin spirit, barely invaded by civilization. Javier discovered that people living on that island maintain a natural, non-aggressive equilibrium with their surroundings. His research led him to the thesis of French geographer Élisée Reclus, creator of Social Geography and scholar of nature in its relation to human beings. An indefatigable traveler, Reclus defended living in harmony with nature and constant contact with it to foster sustainable and fair progress. Julia Rometti and Víctor Costales, who can also be considered “nomads,” carry out fictional anthropological investigations. Here, their study focuses on a neo-tropical region where they study both botanical aspects and those related to its inhabitants in a very broad spectrum. The documents from their research are photocopies of publications discovered in second-hand bookstores.
Misha de Ridder offers another way of approaching nature in his artist’s book, a serial work that is presented as a bound tome with the pages perforated close to the spine. Misha proposes that viewers participate by tearing out the pages along the dotted line to assemble two different images of wooded landscapes – one from spring, the other from fall – like puzzles. But Ridder is not offering a poetic vision of landscape; by using offset printing, he forces the images into dot matrices like those on the large advertising posters found in any city. This is a language close to mechanical and industrial processes of image reproduction far removed from the experience offered by immersion in a natural landscape. Mito Gegič also breaks with customary modes of seeing, as image distortion is one of his lines of investigation. His works transfer (immaterial) digital images to (material) painted images. But in this process, the image itself is destroyed, loses information and deteriorates. Like some digital archives, which become damaged or lose data when they are copied or manipulated, or simply change. Mito is interested in images linked to rural traditions such as hunting, an activity he knows through his family but does not share. Thus, the dead animals in his works become abstract and lose their original color.
The powerful, iconic and widely reproduced image of the spectacularly pyramidal Matterhorn, the Alps’ best-known mountain, was the starting point for Pedro Luis Cembranos’ investigation of the different ways it has been used. In recent history, this mountain was chosen as a finalist in the seven natural wonders of the world, lent its name to a rollercoaster in Disneyland, inspired the logo of the famous Toblerone chocolates and even appeared in a chapter of The Simpsons. According to Pedro Luis, landscape can also be the object of manipulation through its different modes of representation. Thus the large mural he presents with the mountain’s image is fragmented, out of order and out of focus. Similarly, Liudmila and Nelson assign a new meaning to an iconic image from the history of art. They use Hokusai’s The Great Wave to mark the sea as a natural frontier, but also a political one. The original landscape is one of many works intended to represent Mount Fuji, considered sacred and symbolic of Japan’s national identity. In the foreground, a gigantic wave is at its highest and most threatening moment, just about to break furiously over some fragile boats bearing oarsmen. Liudmila and Nelson construct their image from multiple photographs of Cuban balseros who tried to cross the Straits of Florida in 1994.
Tamás Kaszás imagines or futurizes a society forced to adapt to the depletion of a natural resource as indispensable today as petroleum. Faced with the collapse of production, the artist proposes two possible paths for the development of civilization: either the creation of new layers of oppressive power, or a return to productive processes of basic agriculture and animal husbandry. He uses two agit-prop posters to communicate these ideas. María García-Ibáñez also investigates time, linking it to the history of the Earth. Pangea is the beginning of the world we inhabit, evolving and moving constantly, even though we do not notice it. There are even remains of the beings that lived here millions of years ago. They are now extinct but we still share certain elements with them, such as cell structure. The art of Jeronimo Hagerman revolves around an analysis of the relation between the subject and his/her surroundings, especially the manner in which he or she generates emotional links between the individual and nature. The images he has selected for the show represent a small part of the photo diary where he records some of the surprising results of that fusion. There we find, for example, apparently wild landscapes that nonetheless sport some element that breaks the harmony and indicates human intrusion, or the unstoppable and uncontrollable growth of plants, even in urban settings. László Hatházi works in the opposite direction, focusing on the feelings of plants to ironically analyze pseudo-scientific documents that attempt to measure the effects of their surroundings on their growth. If plants listen to classical music, will they grow stronger and healthier? Can a polygraph or other electronic mechanism plugged into a plant truly measure its reactions?
Elena Nieto López is attracted to the small objects she finds in places where she has the nearest and most immediate access to nature: parks, vacation spots or the local neighborhood market. Like a child who stores “treasures in her pockets,” Elena collects and meticulously documents bits of dry branches, common shells, fruits and vegetables as if she were an urban botanist. With a similar method, based on the observation and collection of elements she finds in passing, Sara Bjarland investigates how the artificial can “seem” natural, tricking the viewer. She is fascinated by the ambiguity produced when synthetic materials such as plastic begin to imitate or simulate natural materials. Therefore, in her videos, she uses such inert and artificial elements as plastic bags or polystyrene spheres, bringing them to “life” by imitating organic movement. Finally, the image captured by Emma Crichton’s camera is tragic: the trunk of a ‘pita’ plant lying in a ditch like a cadaver waiting to be covered. The ‘pita’ is a monocarpic plant that flowers only once in its life and dies directly afterwards.
This exhibition has an added component that plays with the viewer’s perception: a show of graphic art with almost no engravings. The language used owes much to graphic art, making it seem like something it is not, because the techniques employed have little to do with traditional printmaking. Appearances can be misleading, and only when the viewer looks very closely at the works or reads its label will he recognize the drawing, photocopy, digital print or other materials such as fabric. As is only right, techniques are not determinant, they should only help to narrate the message.
IEEB6 - parallel event
Satisfaction of Basic Needs (curator: Adriana Oprea)
(13.12.2014 - 28.02.2015) The "Brancovan Palaces" Cultural Center in Mogosoaia - the House of Arts
Art produced under the communist regime in Romania and more generally in Eastern Europe has been recovered, promoted and studied for a while now in biennials, international conferences and research publications. Some aspects of its history came to the fore and attracted curatorial and academic attention locally and internationally, others didn’t (yet). As for the Romanian art under communism, the usual suspect is that imagery in which one can grasp (could grasp back then?) a subversive content or attitude towards the regime. However, still insufficiently known are those images which, without being official ones, echoed in a diffuse manner, tacitly approved (purposefully or not) or simply took as a distant/close, mediated/direct source of inspiration the Marxist ideology. And still widely ignored is that „aesthetisizing” visual production apparently dedicated to topics without immediate political meaning.
The official communist dogma was transmitted and imposed from above to all artists as they were required to become members of the Romanian Union of Fine Artists (a syndicate structure supported by the state) in order to activate as artists. Official art was the dogma’s first and foremost visual reflection. But apart from that, there was a more diffuse, uncharged, light imagery that was not required, as official art was, but to a lesser or greater degree expected from the art community. Artists were sent by the Union of Fine Artists in the country to document in visual form the daily life of common people, especially their work activities. There is a quite abundant imagery representing building sites, factory working places, hydraulic machining, ballast quarries or agriculture. Images describing human labor in the country site were perhaps even more diffuse in reflecting the official ideology in that they were at the same time inheritors of a previous aesthetic tradition of depicting people at work in the fields, country scenes, Romanian peasants’ everyday life. A great number of these depictions of cultivating the soil, together with many others showing metallurgic procedures in the factories, purifying and alloying metals, or water storage and administration for hydraulic processes, echoed the ideologically designed and scientifically planned economy of exploiting natural resources for the construction of the communist society. Human and mechanical labour, described in such an imagery, were its means.
A current (?) environmentalist debate tries to establish whether Marx was, in modern terms, an ecologist (a good guy) or not. Notions like „nature as pure neccessity”, „conscious control over natural resources”, „metabolic interaction between nature and man”, „planned system of labor allocation and land-use”, basic need satisfaction, „a satisfaction which is limited only by the needs themselves” are part of an environmentalist discourse in Marxist terms. These terms slap capitalism in the face as an ecological catastrophe. In Romanian art under communism, part of the visual production mentioned above was indeed critical, at times satirical towards the economy in the capitalist West, abusive and exploitative, not a planned one as its socialist counterpart was in relation to nature (the bad guy). Others were even more generic, addressing this „environmentalist” critique to the current state of things in the modern world, without explicitly directing it against capitalism.
The present exhibition shows in small samples a few examples from these families of pictures. We are not stepping inside properly official art, but outside it, where things are perhaps more interesting. Notions to be currently extracted from these images can only retrospectivelly be translated in a strict environmentalist key. But the old dualism of people vs. nature, industry vs. natural resources, anthropocentrism vs. ecocentrism persists. Perhaps it is the reason for their contemporaneity. It seems the same old dualism still underlies the environmentalist thinking as well.
IEEB6 - parallel event
Circumstances favorable to natural selection (curator: Olivia Nitis)
(16.12.2014 - 20.01.2015) Victoria Art Center, Bucharest
Artists: Michael Goldgruber (Austria), Christina Starzer (Austria), Ulrike Königshofer (Austria), Sultan Burcu Demir (Turkey), Ardan Ozmenoglu (Turkey).
Two different geographies relate to the same issues: the current context of ecological policies, local as well as global environmental contexts, forced migration due to climate change and human intervention, the domestic and the public spaces as spaces of interaction with nature through people’s daily decisions with highly increased impact on the environment. Natural selection in the process of evolution is now replaced by evolution through human intervention. Artificial selection/selective breeding, the industrial landscape reconfiguration, fracking, gold mining, chemical agriculture and industrial animal farming are followed by a strong ethical reaction and scientific analysis of human evolution, its mechanisms and anthropological ideologies.
The Austrian and Turkish artists configure a space of intersection where national identity functions as a tool of deconstruction on a larger critical platform where Darwin’s theory as a point of reference is counterbalanced by empirical data, contemporary perspectives on biodiversity and what we call the “natural” architecture of our planet.
“In the economy of nature, if any one species does not become modified and improved in a corresponding degree with its competitors, it will soon be exterminated.” Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, first published in 1859).
IEEB6 - parallel event
News Report: Calamity Ethel & Silviu Baias
(04.02.2015 - 29.03.2015) Aiurart Contemporary Art Space in Bucharest
Ethel and Silviu Băiaș are part of a generation of established artists in 1970 in Romania, a couple of appreciated engravers and illustrators in a politically complicated period. The two had an extremely dense activity before the fall of the communist regime, participating in various biennials, triennials and international graphic art festivals. Currently the work of both artists is almost unknown to the young generations, a body of work that has been rediscovered in recent years only fragmentary. This exhibition aims to bring forth a highly consistent and strong artwork, two complementary discourses very well connected to the political, social and ecological past reality, but equally relevant, through recontextualization today.
The woodcuts focused on Calamities and Pollution of Atmosphere signed by Ethel Băiaș are mostly related to the toxic political environment and the gradual change of the social landscape under the influence of communist “pollution”. The reconfiguration of our environment is determined by the mechanisms of political power, from totalitarianism to its legitimization by citizens in the democratic system. Deficient thinking in its full manifestation will have adverse consequences on the entire system because we can not talk about political and social environment without the ecological component. If pollution and calamities aimed strictly the social environment deprived of the right to freedom of opinion and dignity, now they get complicated due to the compromises amid consumerist economic pressures and reformulation of nationalist ideologies. The landscape that contains us changes in its turn under the influence of consumption, emphasizing the gap between richness and poverty, deprivation and exploitable resources.
The Reports and Greenhouses by Silviu Băiaș complete the political and social picture with an authentic ecologic unrest. We are dealing with the prospect of an illustrator who, through a process of detachment, contemplates the degradation of the surrounding world captured in the pages of color-descriptive reports. The gestural force in the engravings of Ethel Băiaș is complemented by the scan of landscape type of perspectives or mapping, with color interventions specific to newspaper printing, a working manner common in the decades 60-80 from the XXth century in Polish poster and pop art.
An exhibition that brings out the powerful engravings made mostly during 1974-1988, a time of reconstruction, but also a time for rethinking an artistic work left for too long inside drawers. (Olivia Nițiș)
IEEB6 - parallel event
Lecture Dan Perjovschi: What can you do when there is so much to be done?
(04.02.2015 - 29.03.2015) Aiurart Contemporary Art Space in Bucharest
Ecology, pollution and filth consumerist indifference of nature are present in each of the 20 art projects that I do every year. And so I found myself involved in all sorts of campaigns. Iasi loves linden trees (and do not let the mayor to cut) Uniti Save Rosia Montana (all over the world) or Fuck Frack (shale gas). What can an artist do in these situations? ... Depends on the honesty, energy and context. I drew up until pencils were blunt...
Dan Perjovschi lives in Bucharest and Sibiu. He had solo exhibitions in museums such as: the Museum Ludwig Cologne, Moderna Museet Stockholm, Tate Modern, MoMA, Museum Vanabbe Eindhoven, Macro Rome, Reykyavik Art Museum or Kiasma Helsinki and group exhibitions in museums such as Pompidou, Tate Liverpool, Castello di Rivoli Turin MUAC Mexico, MAM Warsaw, MCBA Lausanne, Walker Art Center Minneapolis. He participated in art biennales such as Manifesta, Istanbul, Venice, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Sydney, Lyon, Dublin, Odessa, and Thessaloniki. His first retrospective was held at the Nasher Museum of Duke University in 2007 and the second at CCC in Tours in 2012. He received the Gheorghe Ursu Award in 1999, Henkel Award 2001, George Maciunas 2004 and Princess Margriet Award ECF-2012 (with Lia Perjovschi).