“When you want to see art, where do you go? Museums? Galleries? Kunsthals? What if we told you there is another option – exhibition spaces run by artists.” (source)
This is how Juxtapose Art Fair‘s description begins, an event that just gathered twenty-five artist-run spaces from eight different countries, during the weekend of 20th – 22nd of August. Twenty-five art groups composed of unique identities, have each shown their own exhibition at their dedicated stands. E T A J artist run space was among them, and has inaugurated their participation at Juxtapose Art Fair with the Private Realities exhibition. They were the only “players” from Eastern Europe, also the only participants from Romania. A double premiere, when we think it was Juxtapose Art Fair’s first edition.
Situated in Aarhus, Denmark, Juxtapose Art Fair took place in the Godsbaden cultural center, whose building is a historical architectural monument. Together with the surrounding buildings conglomerate, the edifice was part of the Aarhus Godsbanegård train station, until the 2000s. Initially a railways warehouse for merchandise lading and unloading, the Den Rå Hal part of the art center organizes and hosts, since 2012, exhibitions and artistic events for the town’s people.
For this first edition, Juxtapose concentrates on the art spaces managed by independent artists and curators. Although it is a fair, the event debuts with a non-commercial intention, oriented toward the artists’ integration in networking connections, thus facilitating contacts and discussions. It was punctuated by talks and debates on the link between art and other varied fields (agriculture, society, ecology…). This fair’s premiere also inaugurated a new building concept for the exhibitors’ dedicated spaces, by giving the participants free access to a system of modular wooden pieces meant to constitute stands adapted to their own needs.
The organizers had the intention to promote each project’s unique profile by “juxtaposing” them together : “to juxtapose : to bring together for a contrasting effect”. Moreover, fundamental questions such as “What role does art play in today’s socio-economic context?” were gravitating around the exhibitions. The Private Realities project positions itself in an attempt to reevaluate the means and processes of art, instrumentalized by the new global agenda. It is the result of collaborative actions, by putting together artists from Bucharest, Iași and Cluj.
Ruxandra Tudoran, member of E T A J, comes with a partial answer to the aforementioned question, through the descriptive exhibition text : ”This context facilitated by the globalized production and the accentuated absorption of digital technologies, this abyss of personal preferences, of saturation of choices, coagulates a new divided, fragmentary reality composed of individual bubbles, as constituent elements of alienation in the era of post-human, post-Christian, post-internet, post-truth. (…) Private Realities consists of a corpus of micro-narratives/micro-truths which rely on an extension of personal mythologies, on everyday ideologies, on the dual role of the artist/creator and user/consumer/receiver suspended between terms and conditions, starting with the dialectical relationship between art and the new control society” (original quote).
The exhibition showed original artworks from nine artists, and was promoted on social media by the Romanian Embassy of Copenhagen. The participants were Dumitru Gurjii, Modreanu Mircea, Ruxandra Tudoran, Andrei Tudoran, Pandele Radu, Radu Carnariu, Andrei Ciurdărescu, Valentin Marian Ionescu, Ilina Schileru ; and a surprise guest : Adrian Ghiman, whose exhibition Hang me out to dry just ended at the E T A J in Bucharest.
Mircea Modreanu, Ilina Schileru and Dumitru Gurjii, members of E T A J artist-run space, talked with artevezi about their experience with the project they put up. On the road back to Bucharest in the van they bought for such occasions, they reveal how Private Realities was constructed and what challenges they faced. Last week’s satelit 01001 edition talked about large-scale Romanian projects, financed by adecvate fundings. Today we’re looking at how actions initiated by independent artists unfold, artists that also deserve support : ”Everything happened on the do it yourself mode, from logistics, to technical aspect, promotion, etc.”, says Dumitru Gurjii, in the interview for artevezi.
“Unlike Romania, in the northern countries, the artist-run field is validated, including by cultural institutions and town councils, a fact proven by these entities’ access to public financial support. At the fair’s official opening, they even granted awards to artists. That sort of validation system is important, for the artists and the community as well”, says Ilina Schileru, artist and curator.
Unsupported by Romanian public funds despite their approach, but selected by Juxtapose, the three artists hit the road with all the artworks in the van’s boot. After “2000 kilometers the hard way”, they conceived the exhibits’ hanging, some of whose large dimensions demanded sustained effort. Self-financed, they functioned on the basis of a collective curatorship, relying on an experimental format and on brainstorming. This mode of operating, says Mircea Modreanu, corresponds to a specific E T A J mentality, whose often exhibited artists do not bear the obligation of a permanent member status.
”Each artist from Private Realities exhibited an artwork created at E T A J in this year’s course, and the ones who never exhibited there were invited by us. We didn’t make the pieces in situ, we selected them for this project.”, says Mircea Modreanu. For the Juxtapose opening, he reenacted his previous performance from the exhibition The Golden Age of Shotgun. Starting from the idea of a game, but with an aggressive note, he transformed the paper tubes with which children play darts while blowing into them in an artistic action. “I shot with colour cones; the two targets were painting canvases. Then it all became a participative action, the public also wanted to try shooting.”, explains Mircea Modreanu for artevezi.
Other ambitious artworks were to be seen, such as a 1.5m photo print by Ilina Schileru, showing an old woman in bed in her family house, holding in her hand the framed picture of a baby. We also mention Dumitru Gurjii’s installation, which uses atypic objects, like nails and textile materials.
In conclusion, the exhibition was put together from an intriguing variety of techniques, from sculpture to video.
With Juxtapose Art Fair, the emphasis was put on collective and teamwork, reflected in different artistic mediums. The dialogue wasn’t missing from the creative process. Asked about the openings the Juxtapose Art Fair “platform” granted them, the artists prided themselves in meeting the directors of Supermarket Independent Art Fair din Suedia, a commercial event based at Stockholm in Sweden. An opportun invitation, which promises another E T A J exhibition in the near future.