THIS IS NOT AN ARTSPACE
OPEN HOUSE #2: CIPRIAN MUREȘAN
Saturday, 23 July 2022
Erou Ion Călin 19, București
In the frame of THIS IS NOT AN ARTSPACE, in the Open House event series dedicated to the P+4 Publications editorial programme, our guest in July is artist Ciprian Mureșan, in an informal setting featuring the Of Puppets and Humans (2015) book. The visitors of the space may browse through the publication and watch in video version some of the works discussed in it: Untitled (2015, Ciprian Mureșan), I’m Protesting Against Myself (2011, Ciprian Mureșan, Gianina Cărbunariu) and Dog Luv (2009, Ciprian Mureșan, after a text by Saviana Stănescu).
5+5 / interview with Ciprian Mureșan by Otto Felt / intro Open House #2
OTTO FELT: I would like to discuss the presence of puppets in your work. Are there any direct references, either personal or contextual? Why did you turn to this artistic form which has such a complex history and which has redefined the way we experience/perceive the world?
CIPRIAN MUREȘAN: Besides the fact that as a child I was somewhat intrigued by the grotesque appearance of puppets, my son Vlad did puppet theatre when he was around eight years old after school, at the Children’s Club. When I went to his lessons, I would observe things behind the scenes and, as I mentioned in the interview published in the book, I tried to “change the rules of the game” by imagining a play titled Dog Luv (2009, after a dramatic text by Saviana Stănescu) in which everything—the puppeteers, the puppets, the background and the props—have the same importance, all hiding in the darkness of a black stage (as opposed to being “in plain sight”). The blackness or emptiness of the stage in theatre is the equivalent of a blank page. It is like writing in white ink on paper. The second piece, titled I’m Protesting Against Myself (2011), produced in collaboration with Gianina Cărbunariu, involved an improvised stage made out of a garbage bin whose design served to hide a puppeteer inside, with the puppets in full view. In the third project, from 2015, we tried to stage children’s texts performed for adults, not the other way around, as used to be the custom. It was all made out of curiosity and to see what would happen.
O.F.: Puppets are often seen as a substitute for reality. They can perform that which is impossible for humans and say things that are difficult to confess. From this perspective, how do you decide which themes are presented in the form of a performance for an audience and which in the form of video?
C.M.: The tradition shows that the king’s jester could tell the truth in the form of jokes… Without having his head cut off right after. The piece was not a total success by any means. Some interpreted the humour used in Dog Luv as failing or as a downside when it came to serious matters, but I guess it comes down to choice. You need a solid budget to perform in front of an audience, so it is not a huge decision to present it as a video.
O.F.: In the interview published in the book, you mention that you only work “with” theatre when it is essential to the kind of piece you want to create. How did the transition of forms and media alter the experience of these works? I am referring to the inevitable, repetitive dimension necessary in performance, but also its immediacy and the difference in the public’s distance from the stage.
C.M.: Live performances, for instance, especially in the case of I’m Protesting Against Myself, are more moving, but when it comes to video, because of the editing, the repetition of several shots has a kind of Marinetti feeling which turns it into something else, into a kind of “broken record.” In live performances you might have moments of catharsis, whereas video allows for moments of reflection.
O.F.: In 2015, you wanted your video works to be performed by puppets. Are you still interested in this kind of approach today? What would change from the original version?
C.M.: Yes, one of my (yet) unrealised projects is to create a stage in which all the videos I have made are performed by puppets, however, I thought I would better not do it, as that would fetishise the genre and it would perhaps lead me towards an unwanted mannerism. It is still somehow possible to make this project happen if I forget why I cancelled it (frankly, due to the budget and the organisational hassle).
O.F.: What role does a book about your work play for you? To what extent can it trigger an introspective process of reflection on your artistic practice?
C.M.: It is dangerous to frame yourself into categories or artistic movements, and a book has the power to do so. It certainly jeopardises the artist’s future practices because you may feel compelled to continue in the direction that has been established in print, for what is written, remains. On the other hand, it is good as memorabilia, as a document; again, what is written, stays forever.
CIPRIAN MUREȘAN has been born in 1977 in Dej, Romania, and works in Cluj-Napoca. He graduated the Academy of Art and Design in Cluj Napoca, sculpture department in 2000. Mureșan was coeditor of VERSION (2002–2006), an artist-run magazine, and since 2005 he is an editor of IDEA arts + society journal. Solo and group exhibitions: https://www.plan-b.ro/artist/ciprian-muresan/.
OTTO FELT is a German-born writer based in Rockport, Massachusetts. Felt studied and teaches comparative literature and art history, and aspires to devote himself entirely to writing and publishing his novels. He is a collector of artist books, with a particular interest in Eastern European and South American art.
In the frame of the THIS IS NOT AN ARTSPACE initiative, the Institute of the Present puts forward a series of interventions taking place in its own working studio in Bucharest, addressing the present and triggered by the way in which the independent artistic platforms and artists choose to respond to the energies of the context in which they operate. THIS IS NOT AN ARTSPACE is above all conceived as a place for dialogue, sharing of individual and collective experiences that are hosted not in the septic terrain of the white cube, but in a working studio of 50 sqm.
THIS IS NOT AN ARTSPACE is conceived by Alina Șerban and Ștefania Ferchedău in the frame of the artist and theory resource platform the Institute of the Present.
Cultural project co-funded by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund.
Visual identity: Daniel & Andrew Design Studio (Andrei Turenici)
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.