Curated by PAVILION – journal for politics of culture
An exhibition with extracts from the archives of PAVILION, BUCHAREST BIENNALE, FREE ACADEMY, REFORMA, BUCHAREST FILM BIENNALE, PAVILION RESOURCE ROOM
19.00 – 21.00
C.A. Rosetti street, nr. 36 (crossing with str. Jean Louis Calderon)
22.00 PAVILION 15th anniversary party
Constantin Mille street, nr. 4
PAVILION – the project started in 1999 which generates the entire activity of the organization (BUCHAREST BIENNALE, FREE ACADEMY, REFORMA, BUCHAREST FILM BIENNALE, PAVILION – center for contemporary art & culture, PAVILION RESOURCE ROOM), alludes to the relative temporary structure of contemporary art.
“WHO IF NOT WE? / DACĂ NU NOI, CINE?” talks about 15 years of resistance in the local/Romanian art scene, about the subterfuges within the struggle against chaotic bureaucracy. It talks about the production of possibilities in the Romanian contemporary art scene, about the placement in the local socio-political field and about generating new perspectives and directions for immediate action. It is and exhibition which marks 15 years of existence and resistance through critique and creating linkages to access culture.
Critical thinking refers to the apprehension and perception of things critically, or argumentatively if seen from a first person perspective (in your position). Your position – your positioning – means to analyse the social, political and economical space where you evolve. For a “post-“ (communist, conceptual, modern) country, it is important to apprehend its history, to criticise it – either positively or negatively. The history of this type of habitat lies at the basis of the definition and terminological delimitation of the space and has also structured its mission: critical approach to immediacy.
Through the word “pavilion” we understand a construction that is temporary and built for a specific purpose – something between a house and a tent. Its primary function is functionality – it can be easily installed and uninstalled, you can change its location rapidly and still, it has the potential to mark a certain space, be it outside or inside of the pavilion. A temporary structure, just as PAVILION journal is a temporary platform for politics, art and contemporary culture.
The concept of temporality of the pavilion fits perfectly with the way the culture of today is (re-) presented. Art and culture are dynamic, temporary, often changing and moving not only backwards, forwards, left and right, but in every other direction. You need a temporary structure to analyze contemporary culture – you have to be fast and dynamic and you need a medium that is as temporary as the field it represents, but that should still remain solid. This is why a structure such as the pavilion could be useful.
“Being here” places us in a very specific social setting. A setting of mobility, territoriality and a place between different borders where the metaphors of globalization linked to the disappearance of said borders, implies that people, capital and goods take advantage of the freedom of movement, leading to the creation of a new network of mobility, which drives us towards cultural progress, the cultural act becomes an object of recreation, entertainment or personal development through leisure and this is an ubiquitous reality in contemporary society. It is claimed quite often that such a conception of culture would be expressed freely, as an abstract element, through unity-in-diversity, through universality-by-difference
To move fast in different directions is the most important criteria for an institution today –to quote Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari and their book “Milles Plateaux”, the institution should be a temporary structure, like a rhizome. A rhizome is sort of a stem cell that puts out lateral shoots in any directions, without having a dichotomous structure, but instead a pluralistic structure. A rhizome is a temporary structure insofar that it can spread out from every point within the rhizome to every other point in, or outside of the rhizome, having the possibility to grow new shoots and also to mortify old shoots – a structure, which is necessary for a cultural institution today – temporary and moving in every possible direction.
Only this temporary structure, the rhizoid structure, allows us to intervene in the “society of the spectacle” to exactly analyze recent issues and their power structures and to finally turn the spectacle upside down. We have the possibility to re-think processes and to redirect them.
Apart from the critical expectations of the PAVILION, we are also trying to undertake another type of critical thinking: the criticism of the person (id est “persona”), of the individual, the criticism of everyone by and from everyone, including self-criticism. We propose this commitment in order to have the opportunity to involve ourselves – even superficially or vulgarly – in the existence of our society.
Nevertheless, the basic function of all of these instruments, the journal, the centre and the biennale, will remain concretization.
P.S. The ideea of the title and the concept of the exhibition was inspired by the following texts: Zsolt Petrányi, “Chaos: The age of confusion”, reader of Bucharest Biennale 2, in Pavilion #9; Jan-Erik Lundström, “Being here. Mapping the contemporary”, reader of Bucharest Biennale 3, vol. 1: text book in Pavilion #12; Anne Barlow, “Tactics for the here and now”, reader of Bucharest Biennale 5, in Pavilion #16; Felix Vogel, “Handlung. On Producing Possibilities”, reader of Bucharest Biennale 4, in Pavilion #15.
The lecture focuses on a technique called Performative Anthropology, which is in fact a subdivision and a form of expressing engaged anthropology that involves citizen activism, participatory action research (PAR) and street performance. This technique is used by academics, inhabitants of Pata Rât and activists of the Working Group of Civil Society Organizations (gLOC). gLOC is an informal group that tries to raise awareness on the social and economic processes that led to the ghettoization of Pata-Rât inhabitants, from the vicinity of Cluj’s waste dump, and that aims to support the empowering of its inhabitants to request their rights and citizenship. The technique emerged from street protests, following the forced evictions of almost 300 inhabitants of Coastei Street on the 17th of December 2010.
Performative anthropology approaches countercultural methods of the 1960s, Boal’s theatrical notion of spect-actor (Theater of the Oppressed), the situationist concepts of detournement and derive and the avant-garde practice of Arte Povera. This mixture of methods is used in order to create experiences of contradiction (intensified by artistic endeavours) that reveal deeply embedded social inequities of a neoliberal age. As compared to academic linear discourses, it stipulates more concisely and strikingly social and political agendas, and furthers participatory research, artistic and civic projects.
Details about the technique of performative anthropology can be found here:
Adrian-Octavian Dohotaru is an activist and researcher currently working for Ratiu Democracy Center.