a text by Adrian Guţă
The second installment of the Expanded space program, initiated and coordinated by Judit and Mihai Balko, was called Individual and mass. After Migration and relocation (2011), an experiment confined to a single urban site, Kiseleff Park, the space that the above-named sculptors have decided to conquer together with other artists has grown (expanded) spectacularly, defining a possible cultural walking itinerary through the center of Bucharest, from the Historical Center to Magheru Boulevard.
This time, art in the public space, conceived as a contemporary answer to the tradition of monumental sculpture – aiming for a short-term esthetic enrichment/remodeling of various places on the city map by using non-traditional structures/materials – has literally walked out in front of the people who find themselves on busy pedestrian routes, such as streets, squares, or near historically important buildings of Romania’s capital.
The theme Individual and mass, as well as the locations chosen by the authors of the project, have attracted more proposals than last year’s project Migration and relocation. The selection process has not been an easy one. The artists have been “challenged” to reflect upon aspects of individual and group identity in a contemporary urban context, represented by a city where history and globalization meet/confront each other in various ways, from alluring to paradoxical ones.
In the Curtea Veche- Hanul lui Manuc area, Mihai Balko’s Stomach assimilated Bucharest history and constituted itself into an objectual formation meant for interactive relaxation, including ludic versions as particularized by children. On the Strada Franceza side of the National History Museum (the former Palatul Postelor), Claudiu Cobilanschi has erected a Column of Bosses as a ‘monument’ to real and imaginary hierarchies that push the individual away from power and administrative mechanisms.
On the Calea Victoriei side of the same edifice, Ileana Oancea created a Street on the sidewalk, an ‘echo’ of passing footsteps, with molds o pairs of feet, seeming to receive the ‘marching procession’ of pedestrian traffic; unfortunately, the reaction of great ‘appreciation’ for the instatallation led to its gradual disappearance, its components being snatched away, with only the traces of the artificial ‘steps’ left as final witnesses…
A portion of the pedestrian walk-through on the side of Cismigiu Park as you go down Regina Elisabeta Boulevard was personalized in an inspired way by Dorina Horătău with a textile labyrinthine structure set on a metal frame, ‘translating’ visually the complicated motion of persons and destinies on the ‘corridor’ between the natural and built universes: Here/ Beyond. Close to King Carol I’s new statue, Cristina Iacobescu made a fenced off efigy-drawing, naming her intervention Scene of the Crime, alluding to spectacular media promotion and urban, cultural myth creation…
Judit Balko brought a ‘generic’ house to the sidewalk, relocating it, even fragmentarily, and discreetly at the same time (Magheru Boulevard); My Wall grabs the passer-by’s attention, who may be in a hurry or not, with a poetic recollection of stratified habitation, ‘signified’ at the level of structure (concrete, wood) and chromatically. The project program of the six artists was enriched by two performances by Valentina Chiriţă.
The 2012 ‘chapter’ of Expanded Space was, in my opinion, a success, a continuation of last year’s project, natural and at the same time pushing the limits for conquering public space. It is true that there have been some uncivil reactions from some receivers. The lecterns with information on each work were, of course, necessary and welcome – they are also part of the effort of shaping the public’s behavior towards proposals in the visual zone which have descended into the street.