my pillow / 2015
The art scene of Bucharest is terribly divided. It is difficult to point out a clear reason, but certainly the artistic ambitions exceeded by far the local resources / opportunities. In time, Romania's capital city became a place of accumulated frustration, where several groups developed. Alliances grew between many of the younger generations and some artists ended up being promoted according to a political choice, by even ignoring sometimes the quality of the proposed work. There were cases in which artists and curators were promoted according to sexual orientation, which unfortunately ended up being discriminative.
Nowadays, neutral stances allow the possibility to benefit from exposure in several art spaces, although the groups judge very harshly your previous exhibitions. If you exhibited in "enemy" spaces you are disadvantaged, and you have a great chance of being disregarded. So, the exhibition track record is of great importance. Many young artists are confused in finding their own place. Thus, they try to benefit from any sort of visibility, which is used as fuel for their future creative endeavours. Glorifying an idea in an exhibition is the air of many. For a brief moment they are able to concuss the devouring thought that everything that they do is in vain. Still, most young artists are part of a group or try to fit in. I found myself in the tremendously stupid situation of not being able to find a place since the main art groups in Bucharest consist of members that are either gay, leftists, socially-engaged or artist-theoreticians that unfortunately look upon themselves as centers of absolute knowledge. I was none of these. I was active, but by far not an activist. Some of my work was socially-engaged, but I did not share the beliefs and habits of leftist groups. I wasn't dumb, but that didn't mean that I slept on a pedestal. I could only grow to be critical towards the selection done by some of these entities.
Being in a group proved also to be a potentially-perverse decision, since scissions grew in these symbiotic growths of muscular tissue. Various members ended up hating each other, inside groups developed as an ideological whole. Afterwards, these fractured again and again down to a molecular level. Nevertheless, alliances survived the ages, even in the case of molecules.
I never became "a Party member", since I am not very talented in maintaining friendships with the young generation of artists and art managers that rule over most of the groups (as of December 2015 - people of 25 to 45). I never fully believed in all of the members belonging to a certain group and I could not sustain superficial friendships. This decision might be tied to the fact that I have never even been able to vote in my whole life (not for Mayor, President etc.) and, also, I never was and most likely will never be a politically correct character. I consider that the individual is of far greater value than the group.
I put value in carefully choosing your friends - both in art and outside of these guilds. This is why I have few, but very dear friends in art. Another reason for this situation that I gradually found myself in is given by the fact that most group members befriend only people seen as acceptable, "clean", non-carriers of potentially-deadly diseases, which can only happen to be members of "allied forces". I never saw art as a place of war, of rivalry, a place of potential confrontation. Thus, I never carried any heavy armour with me.
In 2010 I had started developing myself within Bucharest's art scene and I had my first contact with some of the groups. By 2012 I had the luck of having gathered a bit of visibility in this very densely-branched forest. This moment coincides with the first horrific stories and remarks that I accidentally heard about myself. Soon, I found out that I was hated by people that didn't even get into contact with me, a situation that I found to be comical, which sustained my thesis regarding group psychology. Stories about myself reached my ears mostly by chance. I was shocked, angry and disgusted at the beginning, because I soon discovered that some of these had as origin people whom I knew, or got into some sort of contact with - one way or another. These were never friends, only acquaintances.
Later, in 2013 and 2014 remarks and stories about myself sunk at levels that I could have not foreseen, that included details regarding my personal life (imagined truths), which I never shared with any of the ones that had spread them. These were either strangers (many of them were people that I never talked with), some individuals which I had collaborated with briefly, art managers that had invited me for an exhibition or two, people that had exhibited alongside me, or colleagues that I had studied with. Artists that shook my hand and smiled in my face crafted monstrosities. These constructions made me feel very angry, afterwards low, disappointed and, eventually, briefly-depressed (since I was a mere kid in the process of development and I didn't understand the mechanism of Bucharest's art scene).
I managed to overcome these moments, while being told by "older wolves" that this rivalry is normal. Still, the stories continued to surface even in 2015. I was amazed, since it became incredibly funny. I no longer lived in Bucharest. I had been abroad for more than 2 years. I stayed in Romania only for 4 months between 2013 and 2016. Nonetheless, gossips flourished. This time I just couldn't stop laughing. What made the situation feel more comfortable (and made me laugh a healthy laugh) was the fact that I heard stories of others that I knew, spread by similar writers, with pretty much the same content (if not worse).
After waking up from the few nightmares written by some of my colleagues from Bucharest's art guilds, I can manage to find humour in their remarks.
I have gathered on 57 pieces of paper (that were provided to me by brother Tongji Phillip Qian) 57 opinions belonging to some artists and art managers from Romania's capital, that were spread largely enough to reach my ears. With them, I created myself a pillow, which I used for sleeping well at night.
pillow consisting of 57 opinions; size: 57 cm x 20 cm
n.b. This work should not be read as a victimisation of an unadapted, a sweetwater fish trying to make its way into a sea of dust, but as a fragment of a Romanian artist's experience. It is my hope that along with the development of new art spaces and with an increase of the financial possibilities, the segregation and envy within Bucharest's art scene will at least not be as visible as they are today. It is not my intention to offend anyone of those whose opinions I've gathered, nor do I wish to take revenge on what is/has been said. This is the reason why I have kept them anonymous. I might be Albanian by blood, by I am not guided by Kanun. I do not wish to focus on them, but rather on the mechanism itself.