The Inside-Out of the Wall

Ștefan Sava

01.02.2012 – 31.03.2012

The exhibition takes as its starting point events and archival images from recent history – be it visual documents pertaining to the Romanian Holocaust or the deportation from Banat to Bărăgan, a historical event which occurred in the early 1950s and left a powerful mark on the history of the artist’s family. This exhibition takes issue with the coherence of historical representation and proposes an installation which reveals the artist’s attempts to carve out a place for himself between reality and historical imagination, between the present and the traumatic experiences of the past. This place is found using methods borrowed from anthropology and history. More often than not, the endeavour to record and display history inevitably produces a narrative. The layout of the exhibition is meant to offer an alternative to the way in which history is constructed, an alternative to these narrative undertakings. History is held as pretext, and the reflection focuses on certain places, concepts, objects and symbols, which are treated as moorings of collective memory. The whole process is informed by an awareness of the limits of representation. Thus, the place that the artist occupies is marked off and at the same time eminently unstable. The dialectic between past and present, traceable in the spaces that the artist passes through and in the objects that he appropriates, sets the boundaries of his explorations. The processual quality of the critical gesture becomes at least as important as the concrete results of his personal search, which is often marred by failure.

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Following Kant, one could argue that the traumatic object (or the idea) is neither natural nor intelligible (nor meaningful, for that matter) beyond the level of appearances; it does not even constitute an object of knowledge, but the influence it can have precisely at this level decides the type of engagement one must have with it. The traumatic object is to be insulated and problematized in order to attain a different type of knowledge. What eludes a historicist approach finds its way into art. Equally, the practice of deconstructing history and its representation, especially as it relates to traumatic experiences, becomes the central element of these pursuits. The tension that develops between the precariousness of the traces of the past and the way in which these traces lend themselves to artistic discovery characterizes this project.

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