Tripod on wheels
cherry wood, steel wheels
95 x 40 x 40 cm
150 x 75 x 75 cm
740 x 100 x 14 cm
Box on wheels with corrugated pipes
wood, metallic wheels, corrugated pipe
plastic and metallic funnels
Concrete bag on wheels
aprox 60 x 40 x 23 cm
View of the exhibition
View of the exhibition
From the early stages of his artistic production, Vlad Nancă has been taking photos of urban absurdities he was coming across on the streets of Bucharest. In these series, one may take notice of the ways the inhabitants of the city react to the lack or withdrawal of municipal infrastructure and regulations. Their petty solutions, inventions and interventions come out, at times, as surprisingly pragmatic and wise, and sometimes - amusingly silly. Humor comes naturally out of these examples of quotidian-engineering-narratives that oscillate between a yearning for sound regulation of urban space by official authorities and the pursuit of personal liberties.
A recent set of photographic images that Nancă produced for the purpose of studying the dynamics of actual urban situation in the city informs the conceptual framework of his forthcoming solo exhibition at Sabot. They slightly depart from the earlier photographic series by concentrating on a specific topic and choosing critically one particular side of the aforementioned oscillation, which actually forms basic positions of the political field. These photographs depict constellations of daily objects (metal portals brought from construction sites, wooden beams and tripods, iron chains, piled trash and warning ribbons) installed by those who claim parking spots on the streets. These artefacts are left on these parking lots (mostly in front of constructions sites of new housings) to keep others from parking their cars there. Contrasting with their sympathetic clumsiness, these obstructions are brought together by Nancă in order to highlight the erosion of the sense of collectivity and public space. Rather than being innocent examples of pursuit of personal liberties, they appear to be temporary occupations of portions of space that are designated for the indiscriminate use of all citizens. As side products of the recent boom of construction sites throughout the city, they recklessly harm the rhythm of urban flux and illustrate the new dynamics of social life: selfishness and greed.
The tension between the senses of sharing and greed, between collective property and capitalist individualism (with unspecified hints at the political shift in the region's recent past) determines the relationship between the objects of Nancă's solo exhibition. The large wooden box, the central piece of the show, can be conceived as a figuration of Bucharest's current transformation: spatial domination (resonating the scale of ongoing construction projects), luxurious and minimalist outlook (befitting to the aesthetics of contemporary entrepreneurship) and -contrasting with this glossy texture through the awkward appearance of the plastic tubes popping out from the top of the box- dynamism that fails to deliver a sense of completion. The visual and semantic discrepancy between the bulky volume of the wooden box and the sense of mobility implicated by small wheels attached at the base, is repeated in another object of the exhibition: a wheeled bag of cement. As the artist explains, the object is set to represent the promotion of private ownership of automobiles, which -in the times of urban congestion- comes to represent urban annoyance and temporal inefficiency, rather than personal liberties and speed, as it did in the past. Wooden portals and tripods installed at the show illustrate Nancă's ironic gesture to 'squat' the gallery space, just as the objects of obstruction on the streets confiscate portions of the public space.
All these references to the spatial outcomes of intensifying capitalism come in contrast with two other objects. A collection of funnels of different sizes and colours, spread onto the ground of the gallery, interrupts the stylish furniture aesthetics that defines the other objects of the exhibition. The sense of cheapness displayed by means of their plastic surfaces speak of those excluded from the benefits of economic boom and, furthermore, of the aesthetics of the nouveau riche. What the funnel represents is the times and situations of scarcity, and the transference of limited resources from one household to the other. It is an object of frugality and solidarity. The second element that refers to the disprivileged is the disproportionately elongated mattress lying on the gallery ground. Its length of seven meter clearly deviates from the standard king-size bed. It evokes nitty-gritty of sharing house with at least a dozen others. Its industrial appearance brings to mind the cabins arranged for workers, those invisible actors of the construction boom poignantly contrasting with the sense of personal or familial privacy that had been originally promised.
Vlad Nancă's recent works disclose a distinct interest in objecthood of the exhibits and sculptural forms, sometimes with direct references to the minimalist legacy. Yet, this aestheticism does not convey a withdrawal from the social. The objects he employs and reconstructs are either modelled from objects of the quotidian life or taken in fully as ready-mades -a strategy, which allows Nancă to construct networks of meaning through the social codes these objects harbor. (Erden Kosova)
[find here a pdf version of the publication that accompanied this exhibition]
[find here some images of objects that inspired some of the works in the exhibition]