“Designation”, 2006, a site-specific photo installation:
series of photographs, 12 pieces: b/w photographs, 45 x 30,6 cm,
3 pieces: shelves and books, dimensions variable, wood, paper
The fall of the Communist regime paved the way for new urban solutions, as the ideological shift exerted a strong influence on the restructuring of public spaces in post-Soviet countries. The artist was interested to explore how Romanian society has changed its attitude to public spaces, which have also undergone a period of intense transformation.
At first sight, the changing cityscape creates an impression of diversity and hasty renovation, typified by the phrase “time is money,” as developers build maximally high buildings as quickly as possible. Besides making this observation, she was trying to find out how much space is left in Bucharest for the potential implementation of conceptual architectural solutions and to locate public spaces in the city suitable for subtle rather than radical recontextualisation. Inciuraite was researching together with the renowned Bucharest-based architect Mariana Celac, whom she invited to take part her project. In the course of their communication, the artist tried to analyze the urban features of Bucharest, its architectural heritage, and interesting urban renewal projects. Inciuraite was interested to hear which public spaces Celac would recommend for revival.
Women play an important role in Inciuraite’s work. They are active witnesses and participants within abandoned public spaces as she tries to reveal or hint at the political, social, economic, or cultural circumstances that have determined certain public spaces to sink into oblivion. She put women center-stage in the Bucharest project as well; they are the main discussants of public spaces. Moreover, Inciuraite and Celac question the place that women (both historically and currently) occupy in Romanian society.
Three locations in Bucharest suggested by Mariana Celac were photographed and the prints exhibited: a small fenced garden at the National College “Central School”, Carol I Park and the courtyard situated at the intersection of Soseaua Stefan cel Mare and Viitorului Street. These were accompanied by guest books in which visitors were invited to inscribe the name of a candidate worthy of commemoration and thereby help to decide which woman conceptually reflects and eternalizes a certain location within the city. At the end of the exhibition, many pages were left empty in the books and were thus open to interpretation.
The brief discussion of the contents of the guest books allows us to form a general idea about the perception of women in contemporary Romanian society. In artist’s opinion, the lack of mythological characters on the list is a positive sign, as their appearance would be indicative of Romanian society’s tendency to escapism. Neither is the list dominated by historical personalities, a possible symptom of social ennui. A more or less equal proportion of historical and contemporary personages was expressed. And, most importantly, in the majority of cases the candidates from different spheres and epochs were associated with three different locations in Bucharest in a meaningful way. The pluralism of opinion expressed in the project provides an excellent answer to the question raised in the guest book: “Are we different?”
Photograph by Kristina Inčiūraitė