The 'Presidential Candidate' was happy when it got the invitation to participate in 'Just do it. Branding biopolitics' exhibition in Pavilion Unicredit space.
At Pavilion Unicredit one encounters :
Radical left, comunist, anarhist texts – in reality, corporate atmosphere, clear hierarchy and chain of command;
Exhibiting texts and works which critique authoritative power positions – in reality, using any means of authoritative power – may it be academia, prestige, lengthy self-eulogizing biographies;
Texts which critique mass-media manipulation – in reality, using the same tactics of manipulation, disinformation, denigration, attack against anyone who critiques their institution;
Statements for institutional critique and artists’ absolute freedom – in reality, censoring artists which through their works critique the context in which they were invited - in this case, Pavilion Unicredit.
Texts and works which condemn exploitation and neo-slavery – in reality, the exploitation of artists’ work;
Praise for the bank that funded the art institution - artists are not payed, but they are asked to write everywhere the name of the institution in capital letters: PAVILION UNICREDIT.
It seemed a clear case of anarcho-corporate schizophrenia, the perfect context to challenge the politics behind the so called political art.(1)
But, of course, things started to go not so well after telling Pavillion Unicredit what we planned to do and we sent the following text for the exhibition publication:
The Death of the Romanian Presidential Candidacy
The Presidential Candidacy project is dead! Long live The Presidential Candidacy artistic project!
The Romanian Presidential Candidate is happy to announce that the political project has finally arrived home - Contemporary Art. Here, with the support of the State, corporations or banks, is still possible to be political, to do political art. We are happy to exchange the grey, boring and ugly world of politics for the beautiful, free, open, creative, flexible, progressive, white, clean but also critical, radical and political world of art.
After some attempts to control our work, we were kicked out a couple of days before the opening with an email directly from the director, Razvan Ion, even if he previously stated that he would leave all the decisions to the curator, Simina Neagu.
But we decided already long time ago to not respect anymore the institutional power to mark the separation between invited/uninvited artist. In the Romanian Dance History project we reserve the right to perform on stages or present our work in art galeries without any invitation or approval, we decided to take control of the artistic spaces, to not be always framed, programed, curated, etc.(2)
Now we wanted to go a step further, to make all this dynamics visible by reversing this logic - to reverse the hierarchy in which the artist serves the institution: instead of acting under the institution umbrella. the artists can now be the ones framing the institution.
We anounced everywhere the opening of 'Just do it. Branding biopolitics' exhibition as a Presidential Candidacy event. Basically we took the event, we reframed the opening and the exibhition as ours. We started a promotion campaign and we invited the people to come to celebrate the opening with us and with a glass of Dorato champagne. The Dorato champagne is a good looking bottle but with a very, very cheap and dubious content. (around 1euro/bottle)
Furthermore, we announced that will be a special opening, since people were invited to see the opening as our performance. Fortunately it turned out to be a very interesting spectacle. The tension with the Pavilion crew built up so much before the opening that they exploded when they saw us entering with the Dorato champagne bottles in our hands. The show started with the Pavillion crew, led by its director Razvan Ion, screaming and pushing us out of the door in front of the shocked audience that didn't really understood what was going on. It was a big scandal, at some point the Pavilion director, who coordinated everything as a perfect general, put one of the employees to throw the seized bottles down the street (precisely at the entrance of the underground pasage). Some of the Dorato bottels felt on a car and the driver arrived furious and eager to see who was the idiot that did such a thing. In other words, it was a mess.(3)
A scandal is a moment when something is revealed, something burst publicly. It is a context in which the hidden or unconscious power relations become visible and important: a moment of the real, when things are exposed.
We just created the conditions for the real politics reveal, almost following the classical ready-made principle. All the essence of the anarcho-corporatism schizofrenia of Pavilion Unicredit's directors was there in front of everybody's' eyes. The Candidate accomplished his intention, now the contrast was made obvious: the political art on the walls and on the screens of the gallery and the real politics at work visible in the scandal.(4)
1. Here I wrote more about contemporary art situation: http://florinflueras.blogspot.com/2011/08/morbid-side-of-culture.html
2. See Romanian Dance History project: http://rodancehistory.blogspot.com
3. See Valentina Desideri's description of her experience in that evening: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1BbrXUGooOqIIlfpZMYy3PIUi68UC0R7b0A7Z7IaPV1A
4. See also another similar cases with artists that tried to collaborate with Pavilion Unicredit: http://art-leaks.org/