Romania

A Surfeit of History

Recovering from last year’s slow-motion coup d’état that saw an ideologically implausible coalition of social-democrats and liberals ascend to power, assume control of an already wobbly judicial system, and introduce in public discourse the tropes of overt anti-Europeanism, Romania opted, for its 2013 presentation in Venice, for dematerialization. Read against the dismal bureaucratic conditions that artists and curators organizing projects in the pavilion are forced to navigate by a decrepit legislation and the inept project management of the Ministry of Culture, it makes perfect sense to dance: performers will represent choreographically works from the Biennale’s illustrious history.

While a national pavilion is not mandated to represent a nation, the absence of objects and the (compensating) overabundance of desires to belong to, or descend from, the history of the Biennale, has an effect akin to Lacanian coincidence, as that which has ceased not writing itself – and does, even if obliquely, respond to task of national representation. It opens a possibly intentional void, where muscular ripples and sculptural contortions stand in for yet another absence, not just that of the works provisionally recuperated in the performative protocol. A blank space of cultural diplomacy, a buffer separating a disoriented country and its pavilion, a polite omission. The “immaterial retrospective of the Biennale” breaches a space for two perplexities (those of democracy and art in Romania) to inspect each other, and postpones, in silently Sisyphean exertion, their impossible resolution.

If countries such as Romania, Hungary, or, in a different paradigm, Greece, busily confirm the geopolitical dictum attributed to Winston Churchill that “Eastern Europe produces more history than it can consume,” how should art respond to pasts and futures, permanently made and unmade in political spasms and ideological rigmaroles?

Mihnea Mircan

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Pavilion

Organizer/Commissioner:
Ministry of Culture
Artists:
Alexandra Pirici; Manuel Pelmus
Curator:
Raluca Voinea
Budget provided by the state:
€150,000
Open Call?
Yes
Selection procedure:
The Ministry of Culture organizes the representation of Romania in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Romanian Cultural Institute. A international jury selected the artists after an open call. The artist thereafter invited the curator.

Curator

Name:
Raluca Voinea
Gender:
Female
Born:
Romania, 1978
Lives and works in:
Romania
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
3

Artist

Name:
Manuel Pelmus
Gender:
Male
Born:
Romania, 1974
Lives and works in:
Norway and Romania
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1
Represented by galleries in:
Not represented by a gallery

Artist

Name:
Alexandra Pirici
Gender:
Female
Born:
Romania, 1982
Lives and works in:
Romania
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1
Represented by galleries in:
Not represented by a gallery

Politics & Economics

State System:
Unitary semi-presidential republic
Ruling Political Party:
Left-wing alliance Social Liberal Union under a right-wing president
Population (World Bank, 2011):
21,384,832
GDP per capita (World Bank, 2011):
$8,874
Unemployment (World Bank, 2011):
7.4% of the labor force
World Bank credit:
$1,800,000,000
Military Expenditure (SIPRI, 2011):
$2,185,000,000

Alliances


Coalition of the Willing
IMF debt
World Bank debt
International Criminal Court recognized
NATO
Former Warsaw Pact
WTO

Conflicts

Country independent since:
1877 (from the Ottoman Empire)
Last Major Border Revision:
1947 (Soviet annexation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina)
Global Militarization Index (BICC, 2011):
49
Nuclear Force?
No
Ongoing Conflicts and Disputes:
Political instability following the financial crisis of 2008 and the downfall of the government in 2012.
Participation in Multinational Missons:
NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo. UN peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan, Congo, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Liberia, and Sudan. EU mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.