The Performance Art Institute is pleased to present Badly Happy: Pain, Pleasure and Panic in Recent Romanian Art and As Far As I Can Tape which will introduce the Bay Area audience to the rich and complex art world of contemporary Romania.
Through the diverse and sometimes discordant media of performance & video art, painting, graphics, and objects, the exhibits will convey in visual terms the psyche of a world caught in the destructive and regenerative tornado triggered by the thrilling collapse of communism and its replacement with Wild West-style capitalism in 1989. The clash between this new, exciting, but ultimately disappointing reality and the nostalgia for an idealized experience of regained freedom propelled a disquieting, inciting and vivid artistic output.
The artists showcased in Badly Happy represent a generation which struggles to make sense out of the new, confusing, and rapidly changing post-communist world. They use art to question this world and its values: the victory of the anti-communist revolution, and the current (diminished!) state of its heroes; the women liberated, only to be turned into sex objects; the blaring new myths of happy, pleasurable life and lavishly decorous death; the cheap glamour made in China; the lie at the bottom of many political and military conflicts; the seduction of mass advertising, and the hollow gratification of consumerism.
As Far As I Can Tape presents a selection of video and performance artworks from a group of younger Romanian artists. The exhibit focuses on the new practice of videotaping as a means of active reality research. The works of these young artists display an almost complete disregard for showy technicalities, absence of overt social and political criticism, keen observation, particularly self observation, and a perception of the immediate world as the only reality there is. They use video art as a communication tool, disregarding its reflective quality.
Erwin Kessler, the curator of both exhibits, is a writer, and professor of art history and philosophy. He has organized and curated many highly successful exhibitions showcasing this talented and exciting generation of Romanian artists throughout Europe, in Vienna, Strasbourg, Lisbon, Prague, Budapest, and Krakow. This is his first show in North America.