with Janek Simon
installations, mixed media
"Vlad Nancă (Bucharest) and Janek Simon (Krakow) first met in 2004 during a residency at Casino Luxemburg, Luxembourg. Janek later exhibited in Bucharest (2020 Home Gallery) at Vlad's invitation, and then invited Vlad to participate in the Polish Year in Madagascar project (2006). This growing acquaintance and friendship between the artists, who also share similar generational and geopolitical experiences, provided a starting point for their joint-project in Raster.
The exhibition takes the shape of a creative experiment, a peculiar way of doubling one's artistic capacity - the artists alter and remake each other's works by changing the context, "improving" them, or simply translating them into their own artistic language. The result is a series of works of somewhat ambiguous authorship: Vlad's works are a variation on chosen early projects by Janek, and conversely Janek has chosen to rework particular pieces of Vlad's. This seemingly simple idea, however, reveals a number of interesting issues. On the one hand it asks questions about the possibility of "improving" someone else's work and a clash of two artistic egos. On the other hand, the process of remixing specifically boils down to changing the context of the original works, thus becoming a process of cultural translation which is particularly intriguing.
What determines the difference in thinking between two young artists active at the beginning of the 21st century in two European countries with similar recent history and geopolitical and institutional conditionings? Would the works of a Romanian artist, once filtered through the sensitivity of his Polish counterpart, become more legible to us, and vice versa? And finally, how far can one go in relieving a work from its original meaning, and how capable is it of acquiring new meanings?
This exhibition hints at various possible answers to the above questions and a number of ways of providing them. By choosing and reworking each other's pieces Nancă and Simon have managed to create a whole which indicates similarities in both their artistic practice and field of interest. Thus the exhibition in Raster can also be seen as a reflection of the Do-It-Yourself strategies and personal involvement in anarchist or alterglobalist movements. Particular works, such as personal armor for urban combat invented by Vlad and "improved" by Janek, or Janek's "Suicide-painter" "altered" by Vlad into a home-made painterly battle, reach back to practices verging on guerilla warfare. In the context of the Raster exhibition those references take on an even more complex character. They refer to the topicality of straightforward engagement and the issues of institutionalization and "musealization" of such practices, advanced chiefly by means of contemporary art."
[More images and the list of works here.]
with Janek Simon