My name is Mihnea Mihalache-Fiastru and I will be your host today inside the art scene of my home town, Bucharest, where thousands of foreigners and expats land each year in search of alternative night life experiences, fun loving people, and, I suppose, to escape rigid western structures. In the next couple of minutes I will introduce you to some of the finest friends and people I met along the way which you should definitely grab a beer or a beverage of choice with when you visit our town.
I will start with myself, because (not to brag) I am an artist myself, so let’s meet first:
I live and create in Bucharest, Romania. I am 33 years old and I have a background in storytelling, entertainment media and journalism. I also have a background in depicting one of the most common psychiatric diseases of our time, so you may know me from this series of stories. I was born with a special and exclusive interest for odd, not known and consistent stories from the past and today. I’m an anthropologist of the peculiar and developed a unique technique of exploring my subjects in which I combine my own flow of thoughts, humour, performance, anthropology and documentary. I constantly experience new conventions and mediums for storytelling in writing, photography and video on various platforms and magazines, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. I first wrote stories back in 2001 when I had a monthly column in the local edition of Hustler magazine in which I described the lifestyle of being a heroin addict in Bucharest at the end of the 90s, early 2000s. My latest work is Șușanele, a docu-fiction webseries in which I explore unknown but relevant stories and characters of an universal city. On the local scene, take me for a controversial pop-culture figure being, on many occasions, criticised by established artists and other both online and offline influencers.
Șușanele is a visual storytelling web series, structured in seasons with episodes no longer than 15 minutes. An episode is launched every six weeks online and offline, in a premiere at an art gallery or a cultural institute in Bucharest. If you like Șușanele you can subscribe here and follow it on Instagram.
An architect at base and a former Art Director, Otilia took to contemporary jewellery design. Couple of years later and after consistent collaborative projects she decided to start my own brand and online shop – OVAL. Three years forward we reach today – OVAL is growing organically and has a lot of international potential as business. Series of new jewellery are added constantly jumping from abstract into matter, creating objects that have not always have a straightforward purpose but bare emotions.
“Neotectonics of Myth” is the latest OVAL collection that was awarded with the special mention for accessory design at IFS 2016, during London Fashion Week.
Although extrovert in shape and structure, the collection performs a silent meditation by rejecting any trace of idealism about history. Strata after strata peeled off, the core translated into jewelry pulsating energies hidden for centuries. Once the vein of any piece of gold, bronze or copper, the internal dialogue with nature is now imperceptible as every surface has been eroded and re-imagined, re-shaped and polished into abstract. When nature is just a myth that draws the neotectonics.
Cosima Opârtan, former architect who gave up planning for a concoction of reasons, both ideological and practical, is now part of collectives that deal with music, performance and sometimes nothing. Assumed musical identity as half of Raze de Soare, a duo that is interested in exploring the sound of outernational minimal restaurant music. “Raze de Soare bears all the signifiers of Future Nuggets’ (ed. Music label releasing Raze de Soare) trademark “maneletronics” – taking cues from the bustling but traditional Romanian lăutărească – the Oriental motifs, the nostalgia and longing, mixed with 20th century electronics, a sort of psychedelic 70ties or 80ties chilled sound, starting off with dope bass and squeaky synth sounds. It could be made in the retromania of present day, as well as dug out from the vaults of Romanian synth pop.” – Easterndaze
Raze de Soare – Albatros is a tribute EP to one of the most famous local “protomanele” bands, the eponymous Albatros, the band that put forward this sort of synthetized restaurant music.
Cosima started collaborating with the Presidential Candidacy group, getting involved with them aesthetically as well as conceptually and from then on migrated towards finance democratisation and hacking through technology as a member of Robin Hood Minor Asset Management. Really interested in working with image as means of representation, the surface or appearance of things as a subversive way to address questions.
Ion Dumitrescu started with classical ballet. After that he went abruptly into contemporary dance and then arrived to the postspectacle practice in 2008, a practice and set of performance strategies that he co-initiated with Florin Flueraș.
He is also concerned with music being the co-initiator of the Bucharest label Future Nuggets. Through its many project identities, Future Nuggets is exploring both western music, Anglo-Saxon and German kraut while also immersing into the local oriental through “manele” and contemporary wedding music from across the Balkans.
Ion appears under multiple cameos as a record producer. Among the releases he produced: Steaua de Mare’s debut LP, the first LP of the legendary band Rodion G.A. together with Strut Records (London) and Sounds of the Unheard from Romania volume 2 through Juno Distribution.
As a concept generator, he has created performances that attempt to destabilize and challenge artistic identity and time duration, to drastically investigate the whole structure of the spectacle within and outside the “black-box – white cube” conspiracy.
The postspectacle practice proposes different methods of art interventions, media hacking (TV action), while also engaging in dark political campaigns.
Among the ramifications of the postspectacle practice he developed The Romanian Presidential Candidacy, helping to contrive a set of electoral events between 2010 and 2014 that were held both in Romania and on international turf.
Virginia Lupu is a photographer living and working in Bucharest. Her practice is as raw and straightforward as the medium she uses: analog photography. With terrific energy and inexhaustible curiosity she plunges into all sort of subjects, the more controversial/morally challenging the better. Virginia has always accepted adrenaline involved in portraying reality as it is, approaching her subjects with kindness and no prejudice. She has dedicated three years of sustained photographic attention to the lives,dramas,promiscuities,intimate details,parties,anguishes,sexualities and moral geographies of a not-very-socially-active group of people. Her work is a reminder of the fact that we are all the same after all,we only interpret/see/understand/perceive/feel things differently. Virginia’s position as an adopted member of the transgender comunity in Bucharest not observer and the relation the scene-connected artworks entertain to the very socio-aesthetic they put on display are two factors that explain the comfort in the subjects attitude. All her subjects are posing for a friend,for someone they deeply trust. They’re showing off without showing off. In april 2016 she integrated her work within the white cube of the Suprainfinit Gallery (Virginia Lupu solo show: tossing and turning, crushing and teasing, breaking and shaping, curated by Adriana Tranca) as if put under observation suggest a critical reevaluation of the tools,strategies, and paradigms which we have come to work in morally challenging situations.
Documented and written by Mihnea Mihalache-Fiastru