Mona Vătămanu & Florin Tudor: The Trial
Exhibition at the Stadtturmgalerie, 17.11.2005 to 10.12.2005
Artist talk, Stadtturmgalerie, 17.11.2005
Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor explored the forms and functions of serial (residential) architecture and the urban environment it helped create. Equally rooted in the worlds of architecture and visual art, Vătămanu and Tudor’s were interested in the documentation and artistic processing of modernist—and consequently also post-communist—post-war architecture, the physical presence of which continues to shape and structure the lives of millions of people. The exhibition combined recent works and visual research conducted by the duo in Austria, Romania and Norway with autobiographical reflections.
The Trial (2005) is ostensibly a film about the short trial for Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu before their execution on December 25, 1989. The length of the film is accompanied by the sound of a voice reading the record of dialogue between the prosecutor and defendant. This sequence, shaped by the aggressive charges, is accompanied by a traveling shot through the residential districts of Bucharest, erected during the socialist regime. Filmed from a Dacia 1300 (a car Romanians view as a symbol of those years) in the style of former socialist TV reports, the film turns the charges against the dictators into a reflection on the still-controversial relevance of those events and criticism of the standstill in Bucharest’s urban development today.
The installation The Rain (2005) examines the influence of overwhelming urban and suburban seriality on organizational processes of memory. A simple table displays drawings of Bucharest apartment blocks that Vătămanu and Tudor had drawn from memory. In the accompanying video projection, we see Florin Tudor as he attempts to make such a drawing while the rain pours down on him, destroying both the drawing and the paper. Filmed on Super-8, the piece is also a conscious reference to Marcel Broodthaers, an artist who understood film as a system of simultaneous writing and erasure, and his work La Pluie (Projet pour un texte) from 1969.
Persepolis/Living Units (2002–05) was a selection from an ongoing photographic research project examining initially post-socialist serial architecture; after 2004, the project expanded to include life and residence in similar structures in the West. This exhibition featured a juxtaposition of several Bucharest situations, the Vienna residential district Alterlaa (a typical example of late-1960s residential planning) and the Norwegian city Bergen (an instance of serial residential architecture embedded in the natural environment). The photos were accompanied by the artists’ personal commentary in typewriter font.
Mona Vătămanu (*1968) and Florin Tudor (*1974) have been collaborating since 2000. Their work has been shown in numerous international exhibitions since 2004, including solo presentations at the Frankfurter Kunstverein (2013), the Vienna Secession (2009) and BAK Utrecht (2009). The duo has participated, among other things, in the 5th Berlin Biennale (2008) and the Venice Biennial (Romanian Pavilion, 2007). Vătămanu & Tudor live and work in Bucharest.