17. 03 – 02. 07. 2023
Curator: Diana Marincu
Artists: Andreea Albani (RO), Ștefania Becheanu (FR/RO), Andrei Bucovanu (RO), Mircea Cantor (FR/RO), Ștefan Curelici (RO), Judith Fegerl (AT), Adrian Ganea (RO), Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien (FR), Sebastian Moldovan (RO), Ciprian Mureșan (RO), Cristian Rusu (RO), Sinta Werner (DE), Anna Zvyagintseva (UA).
The exhibition Different degrees of freedom starts from the double meaning of this phrase. On the one hand, in physics and mathematics, the degree of freedom of a point in space depends on the Cartesian system’s parameter variables that can define its position. And on the other hand, in a metaphorical sense, the degree of freedom that we can imagine about an individual, but also about a system, is closely related to the scenarios and projections related to the independence from the norms to which they refer to and the possibilities of “escape” in relation to it. In the current context of the extreme violence we are witnessing, of the polarization of the political systems, the radicalization of humanity, and the sharpening of the economic crisis, a reflection that art can generate is about these two fundamental aspects: physical and mental freedom.
The title of this exhibition is inspired by one of the works by artist Judith Fegerl (b. 1977), a work through which the physical structure of an art institution was taken apart and “demystified”, while also testing the “degrees of freedom” which can be attributed to it. Starting from this idea of confrontation with a specific space, artist Cristian Rusu (b. 1972) was presented with the challenge of deconstructing and reconstructing the entire physical and sensory framework, via the project inaugurated last year – Ghost Geometry. The artist had been already focused, for several years, on the subject of “ghostly” spatial geometries which influence our perception and thought processes, highlighting the structure of the visible universe as a framework which is worth deconstructing and rebuilding through site-specific projects. For Kunsthalle Bega, he chose to engage in a direct dialogue with the exhibition space, with its architectural identity and with our own preconceptions or perceptions.
Within the spatial structures proposed by Cristian Rusu, the invited artists seem set free from the constraints of space, populating all of its nooks, crannies and planes with nonchalance, unfolding themselves both horizontally and vertically. Sebastian Moldovan (b. 1982) is interested in testing the physical, material or mental freedoms, carving out his own universe in which the paradox and the sublime dictate the structures of time and space. Within the exhibition, his site-specific construction will create new possible pathways of going through space, highlighting that which can often pass unnoticed. Sinta Werner (b. 1973) operates with visual methods that come from the interplay between negative and positive, reflections, rotations, dislocations, or doubles, able to deceive the eye and create optical illusions, especially in relation to the idea of transparency in urban architecture.
Painter Ștefan Curelici (b. 1997) questions the idea of urban industrial space, with all of its paradoxes, and the eerie character of his chosen backdrops is also derived this time from the reproduction of fragments of the exhibition space, a trompe l’oeil intended as a slightly altered double of reality.
Adrian Ganea (b. 1989) proposes two works in which the boundary between culture and natures feeds into possible scenarios in which the two replace each other, contesting each other’s limits and control. The artificial fabricated by humanity tends to become the new natural, and the reconciliation of the secular dichotomies between mind and body, passion and reason, reality and appearance, depth and surface seems still distant. The spatial drawings of Anne Zyyagintseva (b. 1972) transform lines into sculptures, and war-infested reality is given new visual expression within the exhibition, by oversizing a white curtain which contains a visual journal of the extremely dramatic year that has just ended.
Andrei Bucovanu (b. 1996) furthers his research into sound-art, site-specific installations, and sculpture, towards that which he refers to specifically as “unstable media”. Any movement or gesture from the audience will contribute to shaping the sonic vibrations out of which the artist’s installation is constructed.
As a counterpoint of the exhibition, a performance by artist Ștefania Becheanu (b. 1987) will occupy the central space, exploring visual and sound creation in an interdisciplinary manner. The new configuration of the work Fragile is built upon a distinct sonic space, starting from the manipulation of a prepared guitar and sliding towards the choreography of the body, which achieves a mesmerizing effect on the audience.
The freedom we talk about when we define ourselves depends to a great extent on the critical capacity to interpret and assimilate the gestures of revolt that reshape a society. The potential of the discourse to create a real impact and authentic resistance is brought into discussion by the work Auto-da-fé by the artist Ciprian Mureșan (b. 1977), where fragments of the novel by Elias Canetti are transposed into graffiti – an extensive monologue of the character Peter Kien, overwhelmed by his own utopian projections but also by the fascination of rhetoric. Andreea Albani’s work Writing at the speed of thought sets off from the idea that there is no writing system and no alphabet which can match our speed of thought, and the formulas emerging are drawings which assume the shapes of thoughts, emotions, intentions, and perhaps different rhythms.
The work Holy Flowers by Mircea Cantor (b. 1977)
makes us look endlessly, as in an abyssal kaleidoscope, at the weapons turned into symmetrical and aesthetic flowers, the hidden sign of the military currency turned into a toxic but still tolerated vicious circle. And the video produced during the pandemic, Am I Really Free, emphasizes an extremely sensitive wound suffered by humanity as a whole – the illusion of freedom versus the insidious constraints inserted into everyday life.
The textile works of artist Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien (b. 1990) weave connections between cultures, generations, languages, materials, and genealogies, selected for their ability to propose a series of personal and social maps, as well as multiple feminine identities manifested in the poetic space she draws. In dialogue with the materials used in her works, from the rough texture of twine to the glimmer of metallic elements, the video created by artist Judith Fegerl (b. 1977), Unbraid, filmed during the pandemic, exhibits the artist’s repetitive gesture of „dissecting” a copper cable, unavoidably associated with the gesture of untangling long hair, so common and present in the life of women.
Diana Marincu is a curator and art critic, artistic director of the Art Encounters Foundation in Timișoara, member of AICA and IKT. In 2017, she received the title of Doctor from the University of Arts in Bucharest, Department of History and Theory Art, and in 2022 she was awarded Bega Art Prize by Fundatia Calina.
Kunsthalle Bega is an alternative and experimental art space founded in 2019 at Timișoara through the Calina Foundation. Dedicated to supporting artistic production and understanding the current problems of the creative spectrum from a curatorial perspective, it awards the Bega Art Prize to a Romanian curator who manages to change curatorial perception. Involved in educational projects with diverse communities, Kunsthalle Bega promotes the significant importance of art publications.