SELF-INTERVIEWS

The Institute of Constructions & Deconstructions

 

  The Institute of Constructions & Deconstructions was created after we were expelled from the Art Academy of Bucharest after slashing some works of second year students as a protest against the enforced cretinism of the school and the dominance of old professors with old ideas. At the very beginning we had only the desire to make something other than the things they forced us to do in school. Our first "official" document proving this is the photo taken in front of the Installation College, which we created as a virtual construction (though the photo is actually taken in front of the real physical space of the Bucharest Polytechnic Institute). When we were invited to Oradea in 1998, for the first contemporary art biennial, we presented only the activities of the Institute, since we did not want to show a single work in the exhibition. I wanted to present an idea, a mental construction that included information about my whole activity, so I chose to edit an "Official" Bulletin. This first issue presented the Art Departments of our Institute (the Installation College, The Performance College, The cultural Reconstruction Program, and The Weather Report) and introduced The Founding Members to the public.


The Founding Members are in fact a work in progress. Our presence as Founding Members is not only a visual presence, a simple image. The Founding Members are a source of information, a working medium itself, a research material and an instrument for concretizing several projects. Our contribution to all these projects is an active one. We have been friends since high-school and evolved together in the same direction. During the University, we were again guided by similar convictions and actions; now each of us is following our own way, all working in different fields of art. None of us is practicing the "art" we were "trained for"--evidence of the usefulness of artistic education in Romania.

I decided that a discussion between all of us could be a good starting point for a new research project within the Institute. Documenting the life and the social situation of each one of us at this moment, as an auto-interview, should be considered an art research project. Although using certain interview techniques, we wanted to avoid the question and answer of classic interviews. The first topic of the discussion concerns personal information, the second is related to each one's artistic projects and plans. Beyond personal information, an important problem analyzed was the activity, the utility, and the rate of interest raised by the Institute as an art project. I also presented three different scenarios for the future of the Official Bulletin. The first option was transforming the Official Bulletin into a cultural magazine with regular issues; the second was turning the Official Bulletin into a project diary or a data file; the third was its suppression.

 

IOAN

For a year and a half, since I graduated from the art academy, I never had a real working place. I was not employed by any firm, institution, foundation or association. I never had a proper job. For a short time, I worked for an architecture firm making scale models; afterwards, I did some photos for some people editing a book--which was published in the worst graphic conditions imaginable. I tried to participate for the second time in another book project with the same young writers, but the result was another lousy book and the evidence that trying any further project with them was futile. I had an exhibition in a small village in Germany were I tried to sell all the bronzes I still had from my student period, and partially succeeded. All the money I earned was exclusively spent on financing my own projects, on editing the Official Bulletin and on all other everyday necessities.

In founding the Institute, I was not interested in the artistic category this kind of project belongs to, neither by the label it receives from other people, nor by its so-called affiliation with an artistic trend, no matter if old or new. I am not following an artistic fashion and I do not want to build an eccentric artist's image for myself. Although this has not been a "profitable" venture, I am not a supporter of the the idea of "sacrifice for art". The artist starving to death, living in a cardboard box, with filthy clothes, begging for money to finish an art work has now become an image of bad taste. Today when in Romania everybody is concerned only with survival and art does not sell (or matter), sculptures of bronze, wood, or stone that need huge investments have become nonsensical. It is weird to parade around with one-man shows made with big money, when you don't have enough money to pay the rent for your studio. For my part, I tried to work out an abstract construction that would include all my activities and projects. I built a virtual institutional frame, joining independent projects under a complex structure that works like a totality with a flexible core: the Art Departments, the Installation College, the Performance College, The Weather Report, and the Cultural Reconstruction Program.

After editing five issues of the Official Bulletin, I consider it time to draw a close to a chapter oriented towards exclusive research on a specific situation--the description of the Romanian cultural milieu, having as a starting point the mentality of the Romanian art educational system. Previous editions were focused on a review of the situation related to the art world and the official institutions that manage the direction of visual arts in Romania. It has already become necessary to alter both the structure and conception of the Official Bulletin. But the only important thing at this moment is beginning a real communication, especially given its current absence.

 

COSMIN

I went to school for some time, I can say I "did my time" in school. Being sincere, I have to admit that the things I learned in school have been useless and not helped me at all. Now I work as an art-therapist in a foundation for orphaned and ill children. In fact I am not really an art-therapist, but more of an animator in art-therapy. The art-therapist is the person who himself went through therapy, so you cannot have the status of therapist as long as you did not sit on somebody's couch yourself. And I have not, at least not literally.

This work is something I like and I also get paid for it, so it is O.K. When we will organize the exhibition for the kids you will see their works. There are very strong, native things there. For an art school graduate who knows something about art, it's easy to realize that their works are brilliant, and exhibit an extraordinary chromatic sensibility. Living by their side for so much time, I realized that all I have been doing since the fifth grade and ending with the university, was in vain. These kids have no studies, no preparation, and no knowledge about composition concepts. They are manifesting something that cannot be learned. After being moulded and deformed by the school system, you cannot say you produce something of your own, from the depths; it is usually just the school speaking through you.

There is this kid, his name is Razvan. I should show you how he started and where he is now led the whole time by his own personality and ideas. It will blow your mind. This is the way education should progress. Neither by using the "I am teaching you, because you know nothing" air of superiority, nor by imposing a basic set of rules to learn. The most striking works by my "students" seem made only by feeling and intuition, not filtered by the brain or in accordance to memorized rules.

As far as the Bulletin of the Institute, it is good that it's happening and of course it should happen with more money. But the topic that the Bulletin focuses on, related to the Art Academy and the Artists Union, is now already exhausted. Everything has been done in this direction. Everything has been said. Now all of it belongs to the past. I think the Official Bulletin should develop into an international magazine, becoming more open and dynamic, more diverse. We should contact people from abroad, because the people here do not deserve as much attention as we have given them. The group Apsolutno have a site to subscribe to for artists who are territorially discriminated maybe we should try. These are all kinds of things that do not show up in the isolation of Romania. Here nothing happens. After I went to After the Wall, I was surprised that there was no report here, nothing. The TV stations were still showing the exhibition at Cotroceni Palace and some other crap. Whatever I thought of the exhibition After the Wallas a whole, I attended in Stockholm some super-discussions about media and politics. Keiko Sei talked about the Romanian revolution and about the last computer program that changed just about everything in cinema. We should contact these people and say:

"Look this is the context in our country. We have a private Institute and we are trying to do something to change the current system. We also have a newspaper. Maybe you can help us with funds or maybe we could just simply speak with each other. We are willing to accept any offers."

 

SERGIU

I am working at an image post-processing studio. I went there in the first place because I needed money but mainly because I had this computer problem. You do know how it is when you know nothing about computers ... When they said to me: "Look this is your wage and this is what you will do for it", at that moment I said to myself: "Man, I want to learn about this stuff." The problem is that money can become more important than the work itself. You must not allow yourself to slip on this slope. Some guys at the studio are doing the work only for the money. They are learning new software only for demanding a raise afterwards, and the stuff they are doing at the studio is all they know about. After working for hours they relax by playing computer games. So, they belong to a specific category. I am concerned with something far more than that, but sometimes I'm not sure exactly what. So many times I have said that I was on the right path and suddenly, afterwards, everything changed.

Now I am very interested in cartoon animation. Everything that is moving can become an obsession. At a certain moment the script and the shape do not matter any more, and you are simply amazed to know that you can make something move following the rules of animation. It catches you like flu and becomes the only thing that interests you. So I want to become totally overwhelmed by what I could do but at the moment I am going through a moment of laziness, of hibernation.

The Institute was part of what each one of us needed to build for himself. It was first of all our necessity to be together, and I can still feel this necessity. But I think the Official Bulletin should become something else, because if it becomes static, it will perish. Everything must be done to avoid regularity, otherwise the Bulletin will disappear even for you as a necessity. Continuity must always be broken, disrupted. The Bulletin can even become a magazine with regular issues (with no matter what) and after some time it can change back to an individual thing. It would be very interesting to find some people who are doing something similar. I would like to see the Institute develop other connections because I cannot consider it something unique and hermetic as a phenomenon. The borderline must be overcome.

 

DAN

I am an art-teacher at a private school, the "Lauder Reut" foundation in Bucharest. I went there initially because I needed money. Afterwards I began to like it, but I don't know whether I would like to stay there for a long period of time or not. I cannot say that now I have a very stable position, because you can never know now what the situation will be like in a year or so. My passion now is animation, which I would like to consider a long term project. But you know how things are with dreams and plans. When I was in school, I used to think of long term projects, and I could impose on myself a certain kind of attitude, a certain manner of doing things. After graduating, the situation changed dramatically and I no longer feel the same stability I had when I was in school. In this country, there are no certainties; everything is daily reduced to bare survival. Maybe this is the reason why I cannot conceive of a long term project. You can only have long term plans when you have something stable as a starting point.

In Romania artists are not well organized. There may be some artists who I appreciate and I even like, but all of them are members of several associations or of the Artists Union. Very few are not affiliated with a certain kind of monolithic organization. In my opinion, we should all be organized in a different way, in a better way, we should have international connections, international support, something. We should have our own autonomous organization. The Institute could be a departure point, a frame from which we could all begin something different. Maybe this does not fit your initial idea--I know you started the Institute as a virtual thing, so I do not know if would like it to become something real. In my opinion the Official Bulletin should not disappear, but, like anything, it cannot go on under the same shape indefinitely. The Bulletin is itself just an attitude, but even attitudes should change with the passage of time.

 

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