TRIUMF AMIRIA & ZINA GALLERY MUSEUM WORKINGS: QUEERING THE (ART) WORLD
TRIUMF AMIRIA is hybridizing and expanding Zina Gallery according to its own imaginary and likeness as a queer museum growing on the fertile ground between a real institution and a utopian construction.
Zina Gallery (Cluj, Romania) has the pleasure to host a cluster of solo exhibitions under the title “TRIUMF AMIRIA: MUSEUM WORKINGS”: “𝗧𝗥𝗜𝗨𝗠𝗙 𝗔𝗠𝗜𝗥𝗜𝗔 𝗟𝗢𝗩𝗘 𝗟𝗘𝗧𝗧𝗘𝗥 𝗧𝗢 𝗩𝗘𝗗𝗔 𝗣𝗢𝗣𝗢𝗩𝗜𝗖𝗜”—about activism, political imagination and radical fragility, “𝗧𝗥𝗜𝗨𝗠𝗙 𝗔𝗠𝗜𝗥𝗜𝗔 𝗟𝗢𝗩𝗘 𝗟𝗘𝗧𝗧𝗘𝗥 𝗧𝗢 𝗠𝗜𝗛𝗔𝗜 𝗠𝗜𝗛𝗔𝗟𝗖𝗘𝗔”—on disobedient bodies breaking oppressive scripts in public space and pantheons of consumerism, “𝗧𝗥𝗜𝗨𝗠𝗙 𝗔𝗠𝗜𝗥𝗜𝗔 𝗟𝗢𝗩𝗘 𝗟𝗘𝗧𝗧𝗘𝗥 𝗧𝗢 𝗜𝗥𝗜𝗡𝗔 𝗕𝗨𝗝𝗢𝗥”—on empathy, fluid identities and dreamy futures with open eyes; alongside a group exhibition called “𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗡𝗚𝗘 – 𝗘𝗫𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗡𝗚𝗘”—developed around subjects such as affirmative synonyms for identities eluding singular definitions, recognition of artistic / curatorial labor, queer bodies, all those through participatory works proposed by Jasmina Al-Qaisi (w. Raj Alexandru Udrea), Apparatus 22 and Georgiana Dobre & Kjersti Vetterstad. Furthermore, “𝗧𝗢 𝗖𝗔𝗥𝗩𝗘 𝗔 𝗤𝗨𝗘𝗘𝗥 𝗛𝗢𝗠𝗘” works as a postscript with publications—𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘪𝘦 by Alex Bodea, 𝘒𝘐𝘓𝘖𝘉𝘈𝘚𝘌 𝘉𝘜𝘊𝘏𝘈𝘙𝘌𝘚𝘛 𝘈-𝘡, 𝘛𝘙𝘐𝘜𝘔𝘍 𝘈𝘔𝘐𝘙𝘐𝘈 𝘔𝘈𝘕𝘐𝘍𝘌𝘚𝘛𝘖—that twist and transform print formats.
To our surprise, the invitation addressed to the curatorial duo KILOBASE BUCHAREST turned into a visit to Cluj (for a few weeks) of the most possible ~ impossible ~ radiant art institution recently appeared in Romania: TRIUMF AMIRIA. Museum of Queer Culture [?].
TRIUMF AMIRIA is hybridizing and expanding Zina Gallery according to its own imaginary and likeness as a queer museum growing on the fertile ground between a real institution and a utopian construction.
A polymuseum fluent in multiple artistic languages, TRIUMF AMIRIA is researching, disseminating and putting in the spotlights queer culture and queer artistic production in Romania. The practice of TRIUMF AMIRIA involves love and empathy heightened at a hyperbolic power, so it is no wonder that this embrace of hyperboles and a complex process of queering ~ critical thinking ~ queerification about what a museum could be made possible a generous and expansive grouping of four exhibitions and a PS in a super concentrated space of about 40 m2.
After an in-depth research conducted for TRIUMF AMIRIA about artistic practices in the visual arts (and not only) that have covered queer topics in the last 20 years, KILOBASE BUCHAREST decided to produce the first solo exhibitions of artists such as Mihai Mihalcea, a major figure for the dance and performance scene after 1989; Veda Popovici, artist, researcher, activist with a significant influence in the reflection on feminist, queer and decolonial theories; and Irina Bujor, an elusive artist with a very peculiar practice about minorities and seemingly minor phenomena. The responsibility of the legitimacy that a museum carries is transformed, on this occasion, into the gesture of imagining solo exhibitions as love letters sent to artists.
As the title eloquently suggests, “TRIUMF AMIRIA - MUSEUM WORKINGS” (which can be accompanied by an invisible subtitle with pop references, What other charms did TRIUMF AMIRIA do?), the exhibition cluster at Zina Gallery in Cluj unfolds a series of serious ~ playful ~ irreverent experiments with forms of museum thinking. In addition, for what could become the history of art in Romania, it coagulates and acknowledges critical artistic practices and crucial aspects about resistance through art, new forms of conviviality, queer criticality and introspection into better future worlds.
Artists: Jasmina Al-Qaisi, Apparatus 22, Irina Bujor, Georgiana Dobre & Kjersti Vetterstad, Mihai Mihalcea, Veda Popovici & Alex Bodea, KILOBASE BUCHAREST A-Z, TRIUMF AMIRIA MANIFESTO
Curated by KILOBASE BUCHAREST
Axente Sever no 14, Cluj, RO
Tuesday – Saturday / 15:00 – 19:00
TRIUMF AMIRIA LOVE LETTER
TO VEDA POPOVICI
Veda Popovici’s first solo show, and the first exhibition included in the TRIUMF AMIRIA – MUSEUM WORKINGS series at Zina Gallery in Cluj, TRIUMF AMIRIA LOVE LETTER TO VEDA POPOVICI is a cross-sectional outlook on a genuinely hybrid artistic, curatorial, academic and activist practice.
By means of investigating and mobilizing different discursive formats—from poetry to drawing or sound installations—, Veda Popovici’s works are a (self-)reflection on the mechanisms of contestation and therewith a plea regarding the performative character of any endeavor caught between divided realities. All works draw on and negotiate with the inevitably dynamic and dual character of this type of approach: as channels for the thematisation of/ as manifestations of a political necessity through art, they take shape on the spectrum between the possibility of victory and defeat, between analyzing the state of affairs and the desire / proposal for change.
The firm anti-authoritarian commitment of the artist works as an echo of a continuous questioning process, directed not only towards the outer world, but also inwards. The conflict in navigating the realm born from the potentiality of those two worlds is acutely experienced and becomes the leitmotif of the entire exhibition.
The frame with / in which Veda Popovici performs pertains to feminist, queer and decolonial theories—both at the level of discourse and concerning the search for active forms of expression or developing instruments of artistic language with political subversive and emancipatory potential. The results of those laborious processes involve, almost without exception, a call to action / a proaction. The performative character is always present, with the body taking up the place of point of departure and of instrument of choice for the artist; in the same way, her whole artistic practice relies on a certain way of understanding participation, as being rooted in or as congregator for collectivities (regarding this very subject, of collectivities and camaraderie networks, or the pronoun “WE”, such as it is graphically emphasized in the poem “The March [Watch our bodies]”, it is essential to call to mind Veda Popovici’s involvement in autonomous, anarchist, decolonial and feminist initiatives: from the Bezna collective and Gazeta de Artă Politică, to Dysnomia and her role as co-founder of the Claca center, of the FCDL [The Common Front for Housing Rights], of Macaz cooperative and of the Autonomous Macaz Center).
Two types of works could be therefore identified in the exhibition TRIUMF AMIRIA LOVE LETTER TO VEDA POPOVICI: on the one hand, those immediately inspired by her activist work and collaborative practices, offering a backwards-forwards outlook, like the poem-installations “The March [Watch our bodies]”, and “In the Name of the Father”; on the other hand, the series of drawings and texts revolving around confinement / shackling [“Încătușare”], as well as the installation “Who died?” (a bridge between the two groupings of works) stem from an intimate experience—of solitude, claustration and powerlessness—in the pandemic context, only to develop further on into broad questionings of oppressive systems.
“The Story of the Fall” (2013 / recently republished in the Bezna anthology, in 2020) is conceived as a sound performance returning from an imagined post-apocalyptic future—thus functioning both as counterfactual artefact and mnemotechnical instrument relating to this bidirectional history—in which a concerted effort of abolishing oppressive systems is at work—from the inside. The fall, present both in the sound performance and also graphically, in the drawings and indications from the “Now-Fall Handbook”, represents a sort of vertiginous antidote-training through which the complicity of all participants is exorcised, the fear of abandoning the known world is embraced, thus becoming a passing ritual towards a radical transformation of society. Through the fascinatingly reassuring voice of the artist, an initially terrifying-dystopian scenario becomes affirmative for a new life, suggesting infinite possibilities.
Envisioning speculative histories that produce radical cracks in the layers of reality, and empower generous futures / pasts through progressivist ideas is a strategy often found in other of Veda’s works—consistently, for instance, amidst the series “History Does (Not) Repeat Itself” (2017-2018), made in collaboration with the artist-theoretician Ionuț Cioană / Mircea Nicolae (1980-2020) and to whom the “Now-Fall Handbook” from this exhibition is dedicated.
The Series “Încătușare [Confinement / Shackling]” (2020-2021), the two poem-installations “The March [Watch our bodies]” (2020-2021) and “In the Name of the Father” (2013), alongside the flag “Who Died?” (2021) function as a grouping of works speaking about the necessity of a culture of protest and, equally, about the internal displacements in a realm which is oftentimes leaving room for a feeling of powerlessness. Body politics, reflections on violence and exploitation that define contemporary society, the contrast between contesting bodies and the agents of oppression are all elements that produce a double reading of “confinement”: the perceived one, the burden of a constraining present that needs to be confronted, and the anticipated one, whose subjects are those oppressive agents, “the others”. The nodal point is defined by questionings on the nature of a necessary justice (see also the artist’s writings on the themes of anti-police and anti-punishment practices, as well as those with abolitionist potential regarding the penitentiary system) and on how an inversion of the power dynamics could be achieved—avoiding, however, the reproduction of the very mechanisms already at work. Following the logic of those antipodal forces, mourning eventually enters the stage, an element approached both with (dark) humor and in depth, in the work “Who Died?”. The anarchist aesthetics of protest—whose mise en scene features the black flag—has prompted this question (“who died?”) from unassuming passersby, a clash that for the artist (especially in the present context) is indicative of many layers of significance: from the symbolism of the anarchist flag and a discoursed inevitably focused on endings, to the detection and anticipation of (possible) disappearances amidst which grief and the act of mourning can become catalyzing forces.
Seen as political action, Veda Popovici’s works transit the world with autonomous effects: once the need for radical transformation is materialized in a gesture, the transition towards a fundamentally unpredictable—and therefore uncontrollable—space of plurality takes place. Admitting and embodying in their very structure this “failure”, moreover twisting it through the perspectives of artistic discourse, the works can be seen as possible examples of metabolizing, processing and transposing concerns situated at the crossing between opposing “worlds” into different visual and speech formats. Consequently, the works do not put forward solutions but rather guide us—sometimes as a handbook, sometimes as logbook—through the conceptual universe assembled by the artist, and along the way(s) in which she navigates it; and the intimate outlook on this negotiation is complemented (in relation to the viewer / spectator) by an always present—visible—invitation to reflection and, further on, through a (possible) call to (re)positioning.
TRIUMF AMIRIA LOVE LETTER TO MIHAI MIHALCEA
How could we imagine and unfold in an extremely concentrated space the first solo exhibition of one of the most important artists in the Romanian dance and performance scene after 1989? What essential drops can we extract and exhibit from a vast and extremely complex practice, often designed to be presented live on stage?
After countless internal debates, measurements and permutations, a conclusion was reached: Mihai Mihalcea’s solo exhibition should focus on two distinct directions (the series “LEAP INTO THE WORK” and a set of works from the Farid Fairuz period), brought together by the fact that all the works are the result of critical performative processes that took place in public space, apart from the mediation of an artistic context offered by the museum, stage, gallery, etc.
The performative interventions included in the TRIUMF AMIRIA LOVE LETTER TO MIHAI MIHALCEA exhibition took place in urban spaces, in the mall, in the media; they are traces of sophisticated, amalgamated, direct and hyperreal negotiation processes with dominant (mainstream) principles and perspectives.
The selection of works from the “LEAP INTO THE WORK” series (started in 2004) is a photographic journey documenting the staging of a rather opaque gesture, heavily infused with vulnerability: a body lies on the pavement, in various markets and public spaces (Madrid—Plaza Mayor, Milos, Casablanca, Cluj—Paintbrush Factory, etc.), thus raising the same questions, but in very different cultural and socio-economic contexts.
The gesture is the continuation of a continuation, as the reference point is the work “Leap Into The Void After 3 Seconds” (2004) by Ciprian Mureșan, itself a reaction and an extension of the iconic piece “Leap into the Void” (1960) by Yves Klein. If Mureșan’s work is a bitter commentary on the ultra-precarious situation of the Romanian—by extension Eastern European—artist, Mihalcea is interested in the aesthetics and experiences of the body lying on the ground. His take involved a reflection on several simultaneous aspects, each acting like a facet of a dense pleated form: (*) a way to extract information about a space one is visiting for the first time, a kind of connection with the local spirit, with a vernacular non-human knowledge, (*) drawing with the body a pause line (-), the gesture becomes an act of rebellion against the neoliberal mechanisms and pressures to exploit and self-exploit the body, (*) a spontaneous test of cultural and political boundaries, but also those related to affects, empathy and care for a body that at first sight lies inert.
From the prolific artistic practice produced for a decade (2010-2020) under the Farid Fairuz moniker, the selection for the exhibition includes three crucial moments:
(1) documentation of performances that took the shape of extensive media interviews (Adevărul, România Liberă / 2010) announcing the emergence of Farid Fairuz as a fierce protester attacking issues such as patriarchy, racism, religious bigotry, sexism and the many failures of the art system. At the same time, these performances in mass-media are the diversion that marked the beginning of a complex and composite process of fictionalizing his own biography. In a state of daily siege by the absurd in local media, in the Romanian (but not only) cultural and political scene this alter ego proved to be a liberating solution for the artist who also held the position of director of the main dance institution (CNDB). Queering was a major artistic strategy to unleash critical attitudes under the name of Farid Fairuz in forms that ranged from playful, extremely sharp, and gloomy.
(2) the video “AFIFARID” (2011) marks the beginning of a series of guerrilla performances (short, spontaneous and intense) in various public spaces. Made in the largest shopping complex in Bucharest, “AFIFARID”, a work disguised with a lot of humor, is an oblique, ruthless attack against wild consumerism and heteronormativity. Acting from the inside, the appearance of Farid Fairuz as a carnival mascot quickly turns into an unpredictable act of shamanism, absolutely necessary to avoid the total emptiness of living our life in the mall.
(3) One of the many fascinating aspects of the practice under the name of Farid Fairuz is the one related to the subtle mutations sometimes intuitive, sometimes programmatic that happened with each performance, intervention, screening. In the video performance “Lament (Not Mecca, Not Rome)” (2016), the act of rebellion no longer focuses on the realities in Romania because, in a moment of rupture, the artist decides to test whether he can set in motion the critical discourse of the character Farid Fairuz, having as its subject a different context far from the local one that made this character so necessary.
The video performance by Farid Fairuz did not happen in Mecca, neither in Rome, as one could expect knowing his practice, but in Basel during ART BASEL, the short time span when the gates of the art business heaven open. The spontaneous gestures were ignited by the rather oppressive feelings conveyed by the strict neoliberal design of the city.
What could be the disruptive potential of the body in an art capital obsessed with the future of endless financial growth and the rigors of such scenario?
The sequences of the performance are documenting the clashes between his body and the highly structured definitions of behavior in public space, in a context of prevalent thinking in luxury and financial investment terms, even when it comes to art. The irreverent and humorous gesture of bumping and squashing his body into the windows, an alarming direction that was not stipulated by the neoliberal design, becomes harm and benefit, attack and self-organized protection, poison and remedy.
The particular type of walking through the city—a clear reference to certain movements in Pina Bausch’s Café Müller (1978), dearest to Fairuz—turns into something of an unapproved script.
As if channeling not only his thoughts and feelings but also those of others fighting the brackets on “public” in the meaning of public space, his body (and art) feels like the voice of many.
As a P.S. of the exhibition, a recent interview published by Glamor magazine (2021) brings clarifications about Farid Fairuz (accurately described by its creator Mihai Mihalcea as a politically incorrect, turbulent, corrosive character), about layers and reformulations, but also about the moment when this character has reached his potential and the self-reflexive process that made it necessary to send him into a kind of fictional exile (as fictional as his appearance)
As two concentric circles in an never-ending organic relationship of reformulation, both the works from the series “LEAP INTO THE WORK” and those from the Farid Fairuz period present the artist not only as a skilled provocateur and negotiator in a tour de force of mental, physically and emotionally strength of the body, but also as a shaman who for over two decades did a major groundwork in disenchanting us from the seductive grip of capitalism, from the manipulative charms coming from political spheres and media, from the conspiracy of dominant and oppressive mentalities.
TRIUMF AMIRIA LOVE LETTER TO IRINA BUJOR
TRIUMF AMIRIA LOVE LETTER TO IRINA BUJOR, the third solo show in the Museum Workings cluster of exhibitions at Zina Gallery (Cluj), is introducing through several recent works the artistic practice of Irina Bujor as an invitation to reflect on the production and consumption of images through registers of authenticity, of dissimulation and empathy.
A consequence of the pandemic, the return to a domestic context in which a lot of Romanian TV productions are consumed, offered Irina Bujor the opportunity to discover a panoply of bizarre characters without an identifiable professional status. With their clothes and their defining names / nicknames Charmer Costel, ISGODB (IStrikeGoldOnDailyBasis), Diamond Diamond Damian, Seksi Adriana from Romania, adorned with details and interventions that are ironic and disgusting and excessive, the four sculptural figures are collages of material and immaterial characteristics making up these media constructs that seem to spring from collective nightmares of what the producers imagine the audience wants to see.
Through these characters taken from the larger series “TV ON ACID”, the installation turns for the visitor into an awkward moment of brutal clash with a grotesque show. A pseudo-psychedelic experience—a bad trip, as what is delivered is a nightmarish perception altered directly by the producer of the image (television)—then packaged and distributed en-masse through late-night trash shows, but most often in daylight, in morning shows or in the afternoon tabloids.
A mise en abyme of the race for celebrity—and signaling that algorithmic pseudo-thinking is a sure measure to extreme derails and turning into tabloid formats the production of TV content in the fight against online platforms—the process of manufacturing, using and sometimes abusing to exhaustion such characters by TV producers proves to be, from the perspective of Irina Bujor, a fascinating phenomenon only from a great distance—like any cheap theatre. Or better said a losing game.
A textile installation seemingly floating on air, held only by a pair of robotic gloves, “SHIELD no 2 (TO TEACH GENDER OPENNESS IN SCHOOLS)” reveals itself as something cloaked in magic: a kind of shield in drag, hyper-fragile, which functions both as an anti-military metaphor and as a tool of activism for the artist’s favorite tribe: transgender people often marginalized by society.
For the “SHIELDS” series, Bujor imagined a set of over 20 wishes that could change the realities of this community, each wish having its own unique shield. In the subtext, the entire series is a material commentary and an oblique proposal towards the aesthetics and image of the protest—so for those affected by the pareidolia, “SHIELD no 2” may seem close to an ambiguous character from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, rather than a typical tool of activism. A disguising tactic with a high chance of winning in a wearying war.
Recorded in 2019 with the voice of soprano Nadia Hidali, TO TEACH GENDER OPENNESS IN SCHOOLS, the desire for SHIELD no 2, emerged as a reaction to interviews with friends from a transgender community in Johannesburg. But in an odd turn, in the context of recent discussions about sex education in Romanian schools that have revealed a multitude of retrograde perspectives, the work also becomes extremely topical in the local context too. A critical appeal to empathy, to openness and knowledge of all things sexuality fluid, for what multiple, nuanced identities mean beyond a reductionist binary construction.
For someone extremely discreet, who suffers from gender dysphoria, and multiple anxieties, the idea of an artistic practice that develops in the shadows seems the perfect solution. The same cannot be said from the point of view of the art system, often focused on the image of artists, on an active social life, on the ability to be present at the right time and place.
Closely reflecting on these contradictions, Irina Bujor is proposing in a playful key the perfect image for who they are at the moment of May 2021, the photo titled “FEELING MYSELF TONIGHT (SELF-PORTRAIT WITH TWO X AMAR - AMĂRÂT, A DEITY OF TIME AND AN OCTOPUSSY)”. Through this self-portrait, layered and delicious like a mille-feuille, Irina is giving us access and multiplies relevant aspects to understand where she stands, psychologically and emotionally, but at the same time is reserving the right to privacy, opacity, invisibility in relation to their physical image.
CHANGE - EXCHANGE
Approaching themes such as diversity and the revolutionary potential revealed in vernacular language, queer(ing) or recognition of artistic and curatorial work, the works included in the group show CHANGE-EXCHANGE stand out because of their capacity of storing and further on producing encounters and affective solidarities.
Past the seductive layer of visual representations in which the three works by Jasmina Al-Qaisi, Apparatus 22 and Georgiana Dobre & Kjersti Vetterstad gain shape, through the major interactive component, alongside the proposals for change and exchange, the exhibition becomes an affirmation of art which is essentially process-based, relying on mechanisms empowering all participants to become agents of change.
As a first variation of the work especially conceived for the exhibition TRIUMF AMIRIA: YOU FEEL ~ AND DRIFT ~ AND SING. FROM ONE SCENE TO ANOTHER, that will take place in autumn of 2021, “The Language of Question Marks” by Jasminei Al-Qaisi (in collaboration with Raj Alexandru Udrea) invites the public to propose translations and / or descriptions in Romanian of the word “queer”.
Presented on the backdrop of a textile installation comprising a hybrid symbol borrowed from the TRIUMF AMIRIA visual universe, the performative sound work in fact creates the base of a semantic scope that will continually expand through future contributions (there is a simple feedback loop, so each new visitor of Zina Gallery may propose new terms). Assuming the history of the term such as it was coined in the West (the programmatic ingraining / absorption of the notion in the queer community and, afterwards, the theories that brought forth diverse strategies of “queering”, of re-examining the gender binary), and inviting us to consider the way in which it was borrowed, as such, in Romanian (foremost in specialized literature and language), Jasmina’s endeavor operates a certain opening. In doing so, the lack of a proper correspondent for the term “queer” in Romanian is overturned, transformed and becomes the driving force for a participative process which could be able to reformulate the toolkit—so—necessary for queer perspectives and readings of manifold phenomena from the visual, social and political spheres.
Durational (53 minutes long), campy (oozing with glitter and musical elements) and bright, the work becomes a projection of what might be possible, a linguistic opportunity and, foremost, a consolidating factor for the envisioned communities.
The work of transdisciplinary collective Apparatus 22, “ART IS WORK – Voices of a Community” (2021), is a tool for calling into discussion the working dynamics from the art sphere in contemporary society, oftentimes defined by a precariousness that escapes sight, by exploitation and self-exploitation. The recognition and monetary pay for the work of artists and curators—or, more often than not, the lack of this recognition and its quantification—becomes the central theme in two sets of statement-uniforms to be used at openings, the most celebratory moment for artistic / curatorial work. In the frame of the exhibition, the Apparatus 22 uniforms and their activist ethos become the currency for developing a video archive of the community, and a pretext for dialogue. The trade-off is simple: in exchange for a uniform, those who enter this relationship have to answer one of the questions aimed at artistic work: *Why do you think art / curating is work? / *Why is contemporary art vital for society? / *Do you have a dream relating to / do you imagine new support structures for art? (maybe beyond money).
What this work manages to highlight is, first of all, a set of perceptions on what the work of artists and curators means and involves—probably, in part the results of obsolete notions of the privileged status of the artist (and, by extension, of the curator), as a sort of intangible entity, isolated from the everyday; or of excessive exposure / publicity of marginal realities of the art market (colliding with the fragile reality of entire communities of artists and cultural workers), influenced by the strategies of the entertainment industry and spectacle (those “star-artists” and “star-curators”). From the very onset, the works sets a clear boundary in relation to those constructions, and the artists and curators can no longer be perceived as a repository that is taken for granted, benefitting the world—because they are part of the world, subjects to its movements and, in return, moving it. “ART IS WORK” is conceived and evolves in a framework of solidarity and care, offering an emancipatory instrument and the chance of exchange—understood as a dialogue of multiple voices.
“The Book of Change”, the interactive project of artists Georgiana Dobre & Kjersti Vetterstad proposes a set of instructions that took shape in a participative context. At Zina Gallery, it includes a selection of contributions by Jakub Jan Ceglarz, Georgiana Dobre, Pernille Mercury Lindstad, Koyote Millar, Kjersti Vetterstad, and Synnøve Sizou G. Wetten, and functions as preview of the complete work which will be presented in the exhibition TRIUMF AMIRIA: YOU FEEL ~ AND DRIFT ~ AND SING. FROM ONE SCENE TO ANOTHER. Developed as an ample set of instructions, “The Book of Change” invites visitors to dismantle heteronormative thinking models, to twist binary social codes and stereotypes and, foremost, to try out some of the proposals in order to relate, from queer perspectives, to both other people and to the own body. The work might thus function as direct action, as well as an experiment of thinking and empathy.
CHANGE-EXCHANGE is formulated as an affirmation, on different tonalities, about artistic collaborative practices as favorable environment for the circulation and development of reformatory ideas.
TO CARVE A QUEER HOME
Like any well-drafted postscript, “TO CARVE A QUEER HOME” is an echo—necessary, precise—of the discursive construction behind TRIUMF AMIRIA: MUSEUM WORKINGS. In the context of the exhibition, this selection of three recent publications works as an illustration of several possibilities of twisting and transforming print formats.
At the crossroad between reportage, social commentary and visual art, Alex Bodea's artist book The man with a hole in his tie is essentializing 100 urban scenes in Berlin through her trademark artistic methodology of extremely concise drawings and texts. Filtering these snippets of reality through her perspective as a queer immigrant artist, Alex creates a meta-story, a fiction that unpredictably links disparate experiences in time and space.
KILOBASE BUCHAREST A-Z is queer both in terms of format and content, in more or less obvious ways. As the most useful ~ useless ~ unexpected guide to the capital, the book describes Bucharest in the format of an alphabet~experimental dictionary: for each letter of the English alphabet, artists, writers, architects and researchers were invited to imagine a key term and develop a contribution, capturing together a polyphonic set of perspectives on the infinite facets of a city whose identity is almost impossible to grasp and define.
TRIUMF AMIRIA MANIFESTO reveals itself as an anti-manifesto: a short and fiery text is replaced by a mile-long text-program, extremely dense (fiery to the power of myria), a kind of flow consciousness of a queer community that tries to (self)define and analyze itself, in all its complexity—from traumas in recent history of not only queer communities to dreams and desires about what a museum of queer culture could be, from actions to dismantle the reductionism of binary perspectives to thoughts about possible multiple queer futures. Incorporating a set of TRIUMF AMIRIA hybrids (icons emerging from the edge of better futures), the poster becomes, in turn, an anti-poster: because it can be consumed in different rhythms and ways, as an image and as a manifesto that requires dedication to be read and embraced.
Like any proper postscript, “TO CARVE A QUEER HOME” was thought to be inevitable, therefore taking the shape of extra introduction—in addition to the original publications, three A0 posters were produced specifically to be placed on the Zina Gallery building, as a sign of the queering processes it hosts.
Veda Popovici is a political worker, theorist and artist dedicated to anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian and communitarian principles and practices. Her work navigates these fields of action focusing on material possibilities of reclaiming the commons and decolonial, queer and feminist practices. Her art practice is based on situational interventions, performative, collective and object based productions while exploring the possibilities of political imagination and the body’s ability to influence it.
One of her recent projects, co-created in 2017-2018 together with Mircea Nicolae, is History Does (Not) Repeat Itself, a speculative history of 90s emancipatory people’s struggles in Romania. Her political work has developed in the context of various autonomous, anarchist and feminist initiatives such as the Bezna collective, the Gazette of Political Art, Dysnomia community, Claca center, Macaz cooperative and autonomous collective. After finishing her PhD on nationalism in Romanian art of the 1980s, she has taught classes on decolonial thought, nationalism and feminist theory at the National University of Arts in Bucharest and at the University of California Santa Cruz. Dedicated to radical housing organizing, she has cofounded in 2013 the Common Front for Housing Rights in Bucharest. Since 2016 she is a co-organizer of actions for the national federation for housing justice The Block for Housing and since 2019 she is the facilitator of the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City. She is based in Bucharest.
Mihai Mihalcea is an artist and choreographer based in Bucharest. He co-founded the group“Marginalii” (The Marginals), which was the first group of independent dancers post-1989 and he initiated and contributed to major projects such as Multi Art Dance Center (MAD), The National Dance Center in Bucharest (CNDB), subRahova space, Căminul Cultural which led to the international recognition of Romanian contemporary dance.His choreographic works made between 1994-2009 under his name have been presented locally and internationally in institutions and festivals such as Tanzquartier Wien (AT), Tanz im August Berlin (DE), Paris Quartier d’Ete (FR), Springdance Utrecht (NL), Bucharest National Theater (RO), La Filature - Scène nationale de Mulhouse (FR), and have been highlighted in press such as Le Monde, Berliner Zeitung, Liberation, Danser, Ballet-Tanz International, Dance Theatre Journal, La Repubblica etc.
Between 2005-2013 he works as Director of the National Dance Center in Bucharest, an institution he co-founded, which became one of the most formative structures for several generations of local artists and choreographers. He was nominated for the “Paris – Europe 2006” prize by Maison d’Europe et d’Orient from Paris for the projects he conducted at CNDB. Between 2016-2019 Farid Fairuz also performed in the works of Manuel Pelmuș and Alexandra Pirici presented in institutions such as Tate Modern, New Museum NY, Art Basel 2019, Kunsthalle Wien, Tanzquartier Wien, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Théâtre de la Ville Paris, HAU Berlin.
In 2010 he assumed a new, fictive artistic identity, namely Farid Fairuz, under which he continued his work until 2019 and made choreographic works and performances, both live and for camera. These have been presented both in the context of visual arts and of contemporary dance in institutions such as Kunsthalle Gent (BE), Black Box Theater Oslo (NO), The Contemporary Art Gallery of Buckenthal Museum Sibiu (RO), Rencontres Choreographiques de Seine-Saint-Denis (FR), HAU Berlin (DE), The Paintbrush Factory Cluj (RO), The National Dance Center, Bucharest (RO), Akademie Der Künste Berlin (DE), Kunsthalle Bega, Timisoara (RO), etc
The entire artistic production he made under Farid Fairuz moniker was recently acquired by MNAC – The Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest (RO).
Irina Bujor: their work is based on formal associations which open a singular poetic vein; multilayered images and installations are highlighting the fragility and instability that question our seemingly certain reality. By applying a wide variety of analytic strategies, Irina Bujor develops a multifaceted practice around ordinary phenomena that tend to go unnoticed in topics she is obsessed with: laughter, gender, factories producing popular culture and things permeating other things. The work of Irina Bujor was exhibited at Simultan festival, Timisoara (RO), A plus A gallery, Venice (IT), Kunsthal Gent (BE), Porous Space, Vienna (AT), “On Floating Grounds. Ways of Practicing Imponderability” exhibition in the framework of Art Encounters biennial 1st Edition, Timisoara (RO), Galeria Anca Poterasu, Bucharest (RO), PENTHOUSE ART RESIDENCY (NH Brussels Bloom x Harlan Levey Projects), Brussels (BE), photo_graz 014. Biennale der steirischen Fotokunst. Kunstfreiraum Papierfabrik, Graz (AT), Narrenkastl, Frohnleiten (AT), ArtPoint Gallery, Kulturkontakt, Vienna (AT). She contributed for collective projects like “managing structural bird problems” - DIE PHILOSOPHISCHEN BAUERN, Kabinett, Akademie Schloß Solitude, “KILOBASE BUCHAREST A – H” (publisher: Mousse, Milan, 2011) and “KILOBASE BUCHAREST A – Z” (publisher: PUNCH, 2020).
Jasmina Al-Qaisi is a writer for voice and paper. She appears sometimes in other forms: as a walking scientist, the schnelle musikalische Hilfe service, or as the only agent for the Self-Entitled-Self-Entitlement-Office. She often makes waves on various radios and is a member of the sound interested artist group Research and Waves.
Raj Alexandru Udrea is an actor, performer, drag queen and trainer. Raj Alexandru performs several theater shows, works on the independent stage of Romanian theater and works with NGOs, often as a mentor or trainer. He has participated in several workshops on topics such as: racism, homophobia, anti-discrimination, the inclusion of minorities in society, dramaturgy, and much more.
Apparatus 22 is a transdisciplinary art collective founded in January 2011 by current members Erika Olea, Maria Farcas, Dragos Olea together with Ioana Nemes (1979 - 2011) in Bucharest, Romania. Beginning with 2015 they are working between Bucharest, Brussels and SUPRAINFINIT utopian universe. They see themselves as a collective of daydreamers, citizens of many realms, researchers, poetic activists and (failed) futurologists interested in exploring the intricate relationships between economy, politics, gender studies, social movements, religion and fashion in order to understand contemporary society.
In their very diverse works - installations, performances, text based-shapes, reality is mixed with fiction and storytelling and all merge with a critical approach drawing knowledge & experience from design, sociology, literature and economics. The work of Apparatus 22 was presented at La Biennale di Venezia 2013, MUMOK, Vienna (AT), BOZAR, Brussels (BE), Museion, Bolzano (IT), Kunsthalle Wien (AT), Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles (BE), Brukenthal Museum Contemporary Art Gallery, Sibiu (RO), Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart (DE), Contemporary Art Museum (MNAC), Bucharest (RO), La Triennale di Milano (IT), TRAFO Gallery, Budapest (HU), Futura, Prague (CZ), Ujazdowski Castle CCA, Warsaw (PL), Onomatopee Eindhoven (NL), TIME MACHINE BIENNIAL OF CONTEMPORARY ART, D-0 ARK UNDERGROUND, Konji (BIH), Osage Foundation (Hong Kong), Progetto Diogene, Turin (IT), Closer Art Centre, Kiev (UA), CIAP, Hasselt (BE), Barriera, Turin (IT), Survival Kit festival, LCCA Riga (LV), Autostrada Bienniale Prizren (XK), MAK, Vienna (AT), Steirischer Herbst, Graz (AT), Kunsthal Gent (BE), Drodesera Festival, Dro (IT), etc.
Georgiana Dobre is a dancer and choreographer living and working between Oslo (NO) and Bucharest (RO). She has a BA in Choreography from the University of Theatre and Film in Bucharest, 2010. Her work unfolding critical reflection on themes related to feminism, gender and ecology. At the moment she is concluding her MA studies in Choreography at the National Academy of the Arts in Oslo where she is exploring the relations between environment, imagination, movement and matter. Georgiana has shown her work at Knips, Bergen (NO), Sørfinnset TV (NO), The National Dance Centre, Bucharest (RO), the Norwegian Film Institute, Oslo (NO), Home Fest, Bucharest (RO), and Centrul Artelor Vizuale Multimedia/FemCAV, Bucharest (RO). In 2018 she had a solo show at Bruksrommet in Stavanger (NO) together with visual artist Kjersti Vetterstad. Next year she will take part in a dance performance initiated by Louis Schau-Hansen which will be shown at Oslo International Theatre Festival, Palmera in Bergen (NO) and Trauma Bar und Kino in Berlin (DE). Other projects programmed for 2022 include: taking part in Marie Ursin’s dance performance Born Slippy, which will premiere at Spriten kunsthall, Skien (NO), art residency at Lademoen Kunstnerverksted, Trondheim (NO) and a solo show which will be developed in collaboration with Kjersti Vetterstad at Kunstplass Contemporary in Oslo (NO).
Kjersti Vetterstad is a Norwegian visual artist living and working in Oslo (NO). She is educated from the National Academy of Arts in Bergen, Norway and Konstfack University of Arts, Craft and Design in Stockholm, Sweden. Through media spanning from performance and installation to sound, video and film, Vetterstad explores themes such as time, place and impermanence, and questions related to identity and alienation. In recent years her works have revolved around issues of environmental challenges and questions related to the boundaries that define the relations between the human and the more than human world. Vetterstad is the Norwegian partner, and the cultural mediator in Norway for TRIUMF AMIRIA –Muzeul Culturii Queer [?]. She has recently shown her work at International Filmmaker Festival of New York (US), Jaipur International Film Festival (IN), Kunstnernes Hus Cinema in Oslo (NO), Taxispalais Kunsthalle Tirol (AU), Black Box Theatre in Oslo (NO), Momentum – Nordic Biennale for Contemporary Art in Moss (NO), Øyafestivalen (NO) and Fjaler Theatre Festival (NO). She has presented solo exhibitions at Knipsu and Entrée in Bergen, and at UKS, Podium and Tidens Krav in Oslo (NO).
Alex Bodea: Romanian born, Berlin based artist Alex Bodea works at the crossroads of visual art, journalism and poetry. Fueled by a desire to witness and document (fact finding) aspects of urbanity such as everyday street life, passersby typology, social dynamics and interactions. record, she makes use of an artistic language based on drawing and text (written or spoken), both of them stripped down to the essentials. She also performs selections from her archive. Her drawings are to be spoken out loud. In her fact finding missions she has collaborated and made visual stories about institutions such as Serralves Foundation, Porto (PT), Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (DE) , Museum of Arts, Cluj (RO), Goethe Institut Bologna (IT), HAU, Berlin (DE), Art Encounters, Timisoara (RO), Asociatia Reciproca, colectiv A, Cluj (RO), Berliner Festspiele (BE), Deutsche Oper, Berlin (DE), Salonul de Proiecte Bucharest (RO), Deutsches Theater Berlin (DE), Sector 1 Gallery, Bucharest (RO), and numerous artists, writers and actors. such as Benjamin Verdonck, Salomé Lamas, Ana Moreira, Yevgenia Belorusets, France-Elena Damian, Karl Ove Knausgård and opera director Peter Sellars. She is the founder of The Fact Finder, an artist-run space located in Berlin which is dedicated to artists whose work relies on field research, archiving, investigation and storytelling.
The KILOBASE BUCHAREST duo was initiated by Dragoș Olea in 2010 together with Ioana Nemeș (1979 - 2011) as an artistic project that took the form of a nomadic art space. Gradually KILOBASE BUCHAREST became a hybrid between curatorial project and nomadic gallery. Starting with 2016, KILOBASE BUCHAREST is conceptualised by Dragoș Olea and curator Sandra Demetrescu.
KILOBASE BUCHAREST explores three main topics: economy, queer and Bucharest, drawing consistently from the local context. KILOBASE BUCHAREST also investigates the depths, intensities and micropolitics of experimental collaboration practices involving artists.
KILOBASE BUCHAREST curated, exhibited, produced works or exhibitions at KULTURKONTAKT, Vienna (AT), Oberwelt, Stuttgart (DE), Museion, Bolzano (IT), Eastside Projects, Birmingham (UK), Viennafair, Vienna (AT), Brukenthal Museum of Contemporary Art, Sibiu (RO), CCN, Graz (AT), Eastwards Prospectus, Bucharest (RO, SUPERSYMMETRICA Madrid (ES) etc.
Current and upcoming projects include editing experimental alphabet book about Bucharest - KILOBASE BUCHAREST A -Z (publisher PUNCH, 2021) and curating “YOU FEEL ~ AND DRIFT ~ SING. FROM ONE SCENE TO ANOTHER“ exhibition for TRIUMF AMIRIA in partnership with MNAC.