ADINA PINTILIE ‘YOU ARE ANOTHER ME’ AGAINST WAR IN UKRAINE
A statement from the team behind the Romanian Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Here, we have not said ‘never again’ until it happened again. So may this also be a pledge for the beginning of a reckoning of all our deepest and most tormenting traumas, as well as shameful forgetting, and to come together for a non-fascist future without borders, neither inside nor at the margins of this continent of blood.
We are shaken by the war crimes against Ukraine and fully condemn the inhuman aggression engineered by the Russian government against a free, sovereign, and democratic country. With deep pain and anger, we see the spectre of many political and historical traumas re-emerging and gaining force.
When our project was appointed to represent Romania at the Venice Biennale this January, we embraced the task with great joy, yet also with a certain unease. ’You Are Another Me’ looks at the frailty of our bodies in this increasingly tormented world, and the urgent need to cultivate connection and empathy between individuals as a premise to build societies of solidarity. Representing a nation, an expectation that the Venice Biennale is premised upon, ’our nation’ or any other, is a heavy and uncomfortable burden, haunted by the ghosts of the past and the demons of the present. The building of the Romanian Pavilion itself is an unmistakable witness of Europe's troubled history, maintaining the rigid angles of the fascist architecture of the 1930s and the mark of the original contract which founded it as an instrument of national representation—a contract signed, right before World War 2, by war criminal Benito Mussolini and one of the towering figures of Romanian nationalism and antisemitism, Nicolae Iorga.
Soon after that, the Romanian army, backed by its king, dictator, and by large segments of Romania’s intellectual and economic elites as well as by many citizens, invaded the Soviet Union through Ukraine, alongside Nazi Germany, Hungary, and their allies. The Romanian occupation of Odessa was a regime of bestiality and mass murder, one of the lowest and most shameful moments in Romania’s history. Our grandfathers and granduncles committed that savagery under a combination of religiously framed nationalist resentments and fascist disregard of the value of humanity and of human bodies. We can recognise these ugly traces behind the drive and actions of the Russian armies committing atrocities in Ukraine, with broad support from many parts of Russian society. Yet there were then, as there are now, on all sides of this brutal and absurd destruction, human beings of great integrity, which openly oppose the darkness of history. And there are millions of individuals brave enough to live silent yet non-fascist lives, while everything around them would push them towards collective delusion. We stand in respect and solidarity with all these people of dignity from Ukraine, Russia, and all over the world, caught in atrocious and absurd wars.
As Ukraine is encroached in cruelty, and as many of us in Romania and across our region self-organise in networks to welcome in our homes refugees from Ukraine, irrespective of race and creed, we cannot forget the unresolved and painful past that links us together. Here, we have not said ‘never again’ until it happened again. So may this also be a pledge for the beginning of a reckoning of all our deepest and most tormenting traumas, as well as shameful forgetting, and to come together for a non-fascist future without borders, neither inside nor at the margins of this continent of blood. To dismantle imperialist thinking with all its dragon heads, to heal all the fears and obsessions that gave birth to it, and to remake from the ground the system that brought it to life and doesn’t let it die. And may we all be like the Ukrainian people in our greatest moments of trial, showing courage and dignity in all their forms!
The international community’s help is crucial now. Please find here more resources on how to help Ukraine:
Ukraine Red Cross: https://www.facebook.com/RedCrossUkraine/
Help for Ukrainians with disabilities: https://www.facebook.com/fightforright.ua, https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-disabled-Ukrainians
ARTIST Adina Pintilie
CURATORS Cosmin Costinaș and Viktor Neumann
PROJECT MANAGER Corina Bucea
CREATIVE PRODUCER Bianca Oana
ORGANIZERS Romanian Ministry of Culture, Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Romanian Cultural Institute
CO-PRODUCERS Manekino Film, Avanpost, Snaporazverein, ARAC Romanian Contemporary Art Association
Cover Image: Maria Prymachenko, “May That Nuclear War Be Cursed!” (1978), gouache on paper, 61.5 x 86.3 centimeters.