If art intends to shift perspectives, this festival points citizens in the right direction, writes Michael Bird
For visitors coming to
around the city is a
The streets disguise the location of their names, there are no clear maps in
public spaces, classic orientation points are regularly demolished, road names change but their signposts remain, while a visitor asking for directions will be surrounded by a group of city-folk pointing to different routes, waving their
hands and shouting at each other.
So it seems ironic that the subject of Bucharest’s Third Biennial, curated by Swedes with an international selection of artists, should be maps.
Set in five locations around the city, the aim is to show how maps generate new realities and how power bases can exploit them for political gain.
The works are most effective when they undermine or question the official vision of a country’s area and borders. Jan Svenungsson’s ‘Psychomapping
Scandinavia’ shows a map of the region which the artist copies onto a plain sheet of A4 paper. He then makes a line drawing of the copy, with subsequent pictures acting as the basis for the next drawing. The map becomes more distorted until it emerges as a piece of paper entirely painted black.
The accuracy needed to form the intricate lines of fjords, lakes and islands is reduced to an exuberant expression that negates its own existence.
Puerto Rican Karlo-Andrei Ibarra carves out a map of America from one of the most potent symbols of the continent, the beefsteak, where it resembles a filthy mess, as repulsive as raw meat on a kitchen floor.
On Blvd Nicolae Titulescu opposite America House, a former bank has been gutted and now houses works including a 51 minute slowed down video of John Lennon’s face by Yoko Ono. This space is destined to become Unicredit Tiriac Bank’s ‘contemporary art space’ this October.
Visitors here can see Mona Hatoum’s excellent work ‘Bukhara’ (Maroon).
This is a Persian carpet where the coloured pattern has been ripped out
to create the land masses of the world, suggesting that deterioration causes
nations to exist.
In the Geology Museum, Romanian Lia Perjovschi’s playful ‘Globe - Endless
Collection’ assembles 1,500 objects depicting the world map such as magazines, pencils and infl atable globes which litter glass cabinets of quartz,
magma and gypsum.
The irony here is that stone and metal pieces from the earth dwarf the planet
Bucharest International Biennial for
1 Blvd Titulescu
Absolut Gallery inside the Museum of
2 Sos Kiseleff
63-65 Strada Lipscani
Galeria Simeza, 20 Blvd Magheru
23A Nicolae Balcescu
Until 21 June