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IP lectures: Helgard Haug (Rimini Protokoll) and Matei Bejenaru


Looking Forward, Looking Back
Artist talks by

Helgard Haug (Rimini Protokoll) and Matei Bejenaru
Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 19:00
Rezidența BRD Scena9, 32 I.L.Caragiale St., Bucharest
free access, event held in English

The Institute of the Present (IP) continues in the frame of the project Atlas of Personal Accounts the series of lectures Looking Forward, Looking Back. Departing from a closer look on artists’ concern with historicisation, with reassessment of models and narratives in the history of art and culture, with exploration of the dialogical dimension of the past and subjective envision of the future, the project introduces innovative approaches to recent art practice and theory. Centered on questions around artistic production, on the transfer, reception and circulation of contents, materials and ideas in a given cultural environment and geopolitical reality, the lectures aim at opening a discussion about the afterlife of histories and the role played by artists in reshaping our understanding of a possible future.

Helgard Haug (Rimini Protokoll)
In the traditional theatre, the concept of space is tightly linked to the model of a container. The black box as a receptacle, which is marked out by walls, can always be filled again anew. The stage, the peep box of a closed room, is screened from the outside world of urban space. The exterior stands for reality and the interior is contrasted to reality, the unreal, the fictional, the imaginary. But theatrical space can be thought of more expansively. It comprises audience as well as performers. The way the space is structured determines how stories can be told and viewed: Who is looking and who is performing?

In her lecture Helgard Haug focuses on different theatrical settings in the urban space and different ways on how an audience is placed into these setting, outlining some of the projects conceived by Rimini Protokoll.

Director and author Helgard Haug (born in 1969) works independently, as well as with Daniel Wetzel and Stefan Kaegi under the label Rimini Protokoll. Her internationally acclaimed works in theatre, radio drama, film and installations lie in the grey area between real life and fiction. Since 2000, Haug has been developing pieces for the stage, the urban realm and radio that open up new perspectives on our reality. Since 2003, Helgard Haug and Rimini Protokoll are based at HAU, Berlin.

The director trio mimicked, for example, an entire session of the German Parliament with 200 residents of Bonn in Deutschland 2. They brought five experts in the art of dying in Central Europe to the stage in the piece Deadline and reconstructed the bankruptcy of the Belgian airline Sabena in Brussels in Sabenation—Go Home and Follow the News. Other productions include for instance Call Cutta in a Box, a live telephone call from a call centre in India; 100% City, an active statistical arrangement for 100 citizens on a revolving stage, and Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, a parasitic intervention to commemorate the Daimler Group’s shareholder meeting; as well as Best Before, an interactive video game for 200 theatre-goers; and Home Visit Europe, where a game is played in private living rooms.

Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel were awarded the Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis [Dramatist award of Mülheim] for their piece Karl Marx: Das Kapital, Volume I. The multiplayer video installation Situation Rooms from 2013 received the Excellence Award of the 17th Japan Media Arts Festival. In 2011, the Rimini Protokoll complete works were awarded the Silver Lion at the 41st Theatre Biennale in Venice.

Matei Bejenaru
The intervention of artist Matei Bejenaru engages a reflection on the loser’s condition in the last two decades, followed up in his artistic projects. In his opinion, those who lost, when Romania adhered to the principles of capitalism, were the industrial employees (workers and engineers) and the agricultural workers, the farmers. This interest should not be associated with the nostalgia over the communist period, but rather with the hope that social progress is assimilated to the technical, scientific and industrial development of Romania. The interest in the social dimension of art is a natural consequence of the life experiences accumulated by the artist own experience as engineer at the end of the ‘80s. After the fall of the communism, under the new slogan of profitability, numerous Romanian enterprises went bankrupt, not only because of their inefficiency, but also because of the corruption, incompetence or obscure interests of managers, high-ranking state officials or politicians. Also, the forms of rational knowledge became marginal, of no interest for new generations, being replaced by a certain gregarious entrepreneurial spirit, amalgamated with mystical and religious trends. Romania’s deindustrialisation between 1990 and 2005, together with the migration of the active labour force and of the specialists (be they researchers, physicians or students) are negative phenomena that are currently affecting the Romanian economy and society as a whole.

Artistic projects which analyse the phenomena discussed above, speaking about the artist’s social commitment and about his metaphorical relationships with the communities will be presented: the performances Alexandru cel Bun (Alexander the Good, Iași, 1994), Împreună (Together, Tate Modern London, 2007), Cezme (Tirana Biennale, 2003) and the photography project M3 — Muncă, memorie, mișcare (Labour, Memory, Movement, 2008–2010). The presentation will include the analysis of the documentary format and its limits within the objective representation of reality. The case study will be the project Songs for a Better Future.

Matei Bejenaru (born in 1963) lives and works in Iași. He is the founder and artistic manager of the Periferic International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Iași (between 1997 and 2008). He is a funding member of the Vector Association from Iași, being also the president of the institution in the period 2001–2011. Between 2003 and 2007, he was the artistic manager of the Vector Gallery in Iași. During the same period, he also initiated and managed the social culture project cARTier, undertaken together with his colleagues from the Vector Association. He is the founder and manager of the Contemporary Photography Centre Iași (2015), which organises the Camera Plus Biennale of Contemporary Photography. Within his recent projects, by means of photography, video and performance shows, he is investigating policies of representation in the fields of photography and social documentary film, interdisciplinary methods for generating hybrid artistic projects, which import language elements from other environments such as music, performance theatre or poetry.

The artist talks Series Looking Forward, Looking Back is organised in 2018 in the frame of the project Atlas of Personal Accounts. Partner: Rezidența BRD Scena9/ Fundația9.

Credits: 100% City, photo: Barbara Braun, courtesy of Rimini Protokoll. M3: Work, Memory, Movement (2008–2010), photo: Matei Bejenaru, courtesy of the artist. Event identity: Sebastian Pren.

Forthcoming from the Institute of the Present
Regional conference, November 2–3, 2018: Situating Narratives. Strategies of History Writing in Eastern European Art, hosted by the Czech Centre Bucharest.
More details will be available soon. Contact: ip@institutulprezentului.ro.

Cultural project co-funded by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund.

The project does not necessarily represent the standpoint of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN cannot be held liable for the content of the project or the manner in which the outcomes of the project may be used. These shall devolve entirely on the beneficiary of the financing.

Institutul Prezentului