It was always in plain sight

Silvia Amancei & Bogdan Armanu


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We are delighted to invite you on Friday, 26th of June, between 2 – 8 pm, to visit the exhibition “It was always in plain sight”, Silvia Amancei & Bogdan Armanu (SABA)’s first solo show at Ivan Gallery. The exhibition initially scheduled to open in April was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the context generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition visit will be according to the rules established by the Order no. 2.941/1.120/2020 issued by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Health on the 19th of June 2020. The guidelines regarding art galleries can be found at Chapter I (Romanian only).

“It was always in plain sight” is a new site-specific project which unfolds in the gallery’s space in the shape of a cinematic plot narrated through a multimedia installation of objects, paintings, drawings and collages, multi-layered frames instead of literally moving-images. The storyline features two characters acted by the artists themselves as an upper-middle-class couple stumbling upon a victim-less presumed murder scene on an eventful night: “The two discover a stain of blood on their living room floor. A murder? Maybe, but there’s no body, there’s no criminal. Surely, it’s just a confusion.“ (SABA) The signs of anonymous violence and aggression invade their domestic environment and while trying to ignore, cover up or clean them, the two end up being devoured as well by the nameless, invisible affliction. 

Employing the aesthetic tools of thriller and horror cinema, the artists aim at deconstructing the ideological mechanisms of Hollywood and the social blindness of neoliberalism, uncovering a deeper discussion on the contemporary configuration of life and its many “invisible” or rather ignored systemic threats. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic just adds up a coincidental layer of meaning on top of a previously conceived project dealing with the weak spots of today’s capitalist societies, art’s powerlessness and the artist’s uncertain condition.

“We are witnessing the present; we are witnessing the continuous collision of time flows and desires; we are witnessing the violence that sparks out of the friction of life. How to name this that unfolds under our eyes? Capitalism has become too much of an empty word; neoliberalism can describe just a fraction of the political movements, neglecting fascism and nationalism; Franco Berardi calls it semiocapitalism, namely, a capitalism founded on immaterial labor and the explosion of the info-sphere. (Franco Berardi, Precarious Rhapsody. Semiocapitalism and the pathologies of the post-alfa generation, Minor Compositions, London, 2009, p. 108.) But with this, we neglect the existence of the slavery and feudalism through which too many sweatshops, mines and farms are run. 

Fiction and art can allow us to see the world through a double lens. Through imagination, individuals are capable to transfer themselves in alternative times and worlds, inventing utopias and futures. (Pascal Gielen, “Autonomy via Heteronomy”, in open! Platform for Art, Culture & the Public Domain, 2013, p. 5.) Of course, this is a very optimistic and joyful approach. Most of the time, no future can be foreseen beyond the prescribed configuration of life within the capitalist logic, that is presented as the least harmful option. Alternatives as communism are villainized and socialist politics are presented as burdens. Nonetheless, when art uses its critical tools to unveil this present and propose an alternative future, these thoughts end up being commodified by the market, having their criticality nulled by aesthetic or academic filters.

Can we do more than joke on our futile struggle and continually expose the violence of the present within the walls of the gallery? Don’t know if this is more harmful than useful and we would prefer not to indulge into believing that this mess can be changed through art.” (SABA)

“It was always in plain sight” is part of “Unlovable Prospects. Scripts, Screenplays and Stories. SABA’s look on the Future”, an ongoing project that proposes to envisage a plurality of futures through a plurality of scripts, screenplays and stories, part of which are the four dystopian scenarios on the post-COVID future that the artists produced as winners of the “Artists Rooms” initiative supported by Fundația 9. 


SABA – Silvia Amancei and Bogdan Armanu (b. 1991, Iași and Timișoara) is an artist couple  working together since 2012, in the city of Iași, Romania. They both graduated from the University of Arts in Iași, respectively mural art (Silvia) and painting (Bogdan), a fine art background which they transgress in their practice together with the physical and discursive limits of the object (and the labour inscribed in it) within the conceptual framework of new-media. Their artistic practice could be positioned at the border between social studies and visual art, researching for methods and examples where art and artistic means can be instrumentalised in order to overexcite the ability to look beyond capitalism and create a (common) future. Among their recent solo shows are “If Then What After” (2019, Baden, AT), “What Past? What Future?” (2017, Linz, AT), “Depression, Uncertainty and other symptoms of Mortality” (2016, Lodz, Poland), while their works have been present in many group exhibitions among which “Go, Stop, Stay” (2019, Debrecen, HU), “STRIKE GENTLY AWAY ____” (2019, Salzburg, AT), “Displacement and Togetherness” (2019, Brussels, BE), “Capital’s Time Machine” (2018, Bucharest, RO), “Baywatch” (2018, Berlin, DE), “Alternative Facts” (2018, Stuttgart, DE), “Odessa Biennial” (2017, Odessa, Ukraine), to name just a few. “It was always in plain sight” is their second solo show in Bucharest, after “Return to Spaceship Earth” at Salonul de proiecte in 2017.

The exhibition can be visited until September 24, Wednesday to Saturday, 12-18, by previous appointment only. Due to the context generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the gallery visit will be according to the rules established by the Ministerial Order applicable at the time of the visit.


photo credits: Cătălin Georgescu


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