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WOW. War of Worlds / Visual Kontakt, Cluj-Napoca

Despite the level of economic success, and some of the social benefits which were indeed brought to the countries that adopted this system, communism, as a socioeconomic order, is still seen to this present day as a disenchantment agent in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Even though those living in an imposed restricted manner,  as it was required by the ideology, had finally been freed from restraints in the early 90s, a communist, national-soaked society is still to be found either in the hidden remains of the architectural surroundings or, as some would imply, in the well-bred sons and grandsons of the people who were part of the former communist class.

Though many citizens have nowadays renounced their quest to fully comprehend what happened during the communist regime, some people are still nostalgic about the days when a classless and ever-working society was the aim of the state.

As the title itself already announces a political standpoint, War of Worlds addresses a deep rupture that is present not only at the bureaucratic level, but also at a sociopsychological stratum of our shared experience of today’s culture. Is depression political? Can we narrate our stories alone? Is life meaningful amidst all the changes that are happening on a daily basis? How do we define ourselves and others? These are the questions which systematically snowball from one to another, as the viewer investigates the meaning behind the works presented here.

The search for old artifacts representing Vladimir Lenin in the homes and memories of the people of the early 2010  Moscow, the transmuting, the metamorphical meaning of transferring a puddle from the former East Berlin to the West by an artist using his own mouth, diligent seamstresses and tailors who are asked to embroider their own names on shirts instead of their clients’:  these are marks of the social connections that the Japanese born, and Vienna based artist, Yoshinori Niwa, has mapped in his long quest to outline,through his performances  and interventions, the questionable space formed between the polarities of the newer and older cultures, by creating either a bridge between them or by deconstructing the structure of the present ruling system.

Tossing Socialists in the Air in Romania, 2010, Yoshinori Niwa’s only available work in the show, reconsiders the connection between the social past of Romania and its current one, by taking a closer look at the disparities of the various members of the present-day Romanian Social party, and the Romanian youth, who came of age after the fall of  the Ceausescu regime at the end of 1989.

In Niwa’s 28 minute visual exploration, the Romanian society seems marked by either ambiguity or by a strong antagonistic political stance. The people on both sides appear to have lost perspective, as the moral game of what is right and what is wrong has already ended. And, as the artists performance successfully comes to an end, it seems difficult to judge with hindsight what could have been done wiser in order for the breach of, not only moral but also sociopolitical standards, to be more concisely compatible with former beliefs after Romania adopted the democratic constitution in 1992.

Moving the focus away from Niwa’s perspective of society as a whole, to a microcosmos of intimate and personal decisions, Andreea Chirica’s work puts into perspective an internalised manner of living privately in today’s society.  

Though it is quite difficult to adjust to an ever changing environment,  for some reason or another, our current psycho emotional system seems to work by forever putting on hold the actual healing of any type of change or loss that occurred in our society. The forced loop of daily activities, which are actually the result of these unsuccessful transitions can be seen in Andreea Chirica’s Home Alone comic book. Questions  like “What’s the point?”, “Why go outside when everything happens inside my head?”, “How is this body mine?”, “What’s the point of living?” pop up as the reader skims through the book. Stress, burnout and depression are all covers of the massive unfinished grief Andreea depicts here. Compared to a griever, the symptoms which the main character manifests in Chirica’s drawings are very similar to each other: lack of feelings, very low energy, confusion, guilt, overall numbness and diminished hope. This bareness of meaning, which you are further acquainted with as the fictional character, questions the very nature of the cereal she is eating in solitude,  will not pass if she will not be allowed to express without intellectualising what she actually feels: isolation and misunderstanding.

Looking into the same conflicting way of being as Andreea Chirica portrays, on the walls of the show there are three photographs that further cement a perspective of social isolation and loneliness. This short visual narrative created by Razvan Ion, one of the most established Romanian artists in the show, also a theoretician and curator, depicts a gradual disappearance of the individual against a natural backdrop that literally engulfs the being. A slender figure, dressed in black that has its back turned to avoid the viewer, seems to further morph into a barely-there, unfocused white silhouette. No matter the scenery, the goal of the narrative seems to address dematerialisation and alienation from the far-reaching society in which the individual is supposed to live in.

Furthermore, this extensive exodus of departure from a shared community emerges from almost all the works present in the show. Boris Peianov’s collages of segments of our present hyperreality, Ika (Aghnie) Jojua’s ready-made written conclusion about trust, the Bildungsroman, The Salvation Army, which Abdellah Taïa has written to chart the  life of a Moroccan born, queer outsider, Adrian Bindiu’s confusion inducing drawing, they all explore the dimensions where the natural right to exist collapses inward.

Most courageously in the show, the clear need of a shared culture is solely overtaken by  Liviu Bulea’s installation. Being, as he states, a work in progress, his work is open for altering (altered) by visitors via the use of the drawing tools he has on display. As a fitting solution for venting needs and feelings, the Romanian artist and curator reconstructs the vast variety of beliefs, obsessions, comments, and opinions that people carry inside by offering them a way of connection, between him and them.

In fact, the most cliched of stories in our modern time, lack the support of manifesting any real communication, and by real I mean anger and grief, as we have all been for so long socialised incorrectly on how to dissipate painful feelings in favour of the media-powered mono-feeling of joy and perfection. The challenge in the art world should then become a matter of addressing the socially ordained positions in which our emotions are caught in the middle, so we could really thrive despite postmodern restrictions and ideologies.

WOW. War of Worlds
Visual Kontakt
str. General Traian Mosoiu nr.41
400132 Cluj Napoca