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