Ştefan RUSU

curation / projects

Ghost Pavilion of Republic of Moldova

Location: Venice Biennale, Italy and Chisinau, Republic of Moldova Period: June 4 t- November 27, 2011

Valeria Barbas, Tatiana Fedorova, Lucia Macari, Igor Scerbina, Sold Out (Adel Idris and Denis Bartenev)

Ghost Pavilion of Republic of Moldova - a public campaign, an attitude a collective stand against non-transparent practices in cultural sector. The campaign was supported by a number of institutions and initiatives from independent/non-profit sector, developed as a response to the improper designation by the local authorities from Republic of Moldova of the participants to represent the National Pavilion at the 54 edition of Venice Biennale. The Ghost Pavilion is also of tool to promote the image of cultural sector from Republic of Moldova internationally. Conceived as a black PR campaign and a counter-strategy aiming to promote contemporary art and Moldovan practitioners - visual artists who missed the chance to participate in an open competition for participation at the Venice Biennale.

Within this campaign, a group of artists have developed texts, posters, slogans, stickers, postcards, stencil messages, and other sites to be displayed and distributed in public spaces of Chisinau during the course of Contemporary Art Biennale in Venice (June 4 to November 27, 2011). The campaign will be also hosted by institutions involved in the project: the space of KSAK Center, Spalatorie Theater, the Art Hotel and Protest in Wind Project - at the Opened Apartment (Oberliht Association). The event was promoted in the media (ads in newspapers, campaign’s trailer), on radio and TV channels, also via net - through the discussion list Oberlist, networks and other international mailing lists, the GHOST Pavilion page on social media, web sites of organizations involved in the project, also by creating a blog and posting banners on civic.md portal.

Next stage of campaign included projects developed by: Igor Scerbina (5 slogans, posters, light boxes, bins, banners, video trailer), Valeria Barbas (street ad), Tatiana Fedorova (T-shirts, stencils), Lucia Macari (commemorative coin- in public transport stickers, postcards) where distributed and presented publicly in Chisinau (internet and local media) with the opening of Venice Biennale on June 4, 2011. Link: http://www.art.md/2011/atlantis_en.html

Finally, in the period between 1-5 of June the projects by Igor Scerbina, Tatiana Fiodorova and Lucia Macari where part of the exhibition in the frame of HEICO project presented at the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale. Link: http://www.boell-brandenburg.de/en/atlantis-11-venice-biennale-2011

The campaign culminated with the public screening in Chisinau of MISSING ARTIST project by the artist group SOLD OUT (Adel Idris and Denis Bartenev), developed under the network ATLANTIS'11 and project Heico in Venice. The artist group “SOLD OUT!” (especially formed for this campaign) conducted research on the subject by questioning the model of national representation and documenting a number of study cases (national pavilions): Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, Germany and Slovakia. SOLD OUT were searching for a missing link between the national pavilions at the Venice Biennale, they were guerrilla detectives disguised as journalists, but truly “real” artists. The final output was a documentary film presented to a wider audience within the context of the HEICO partnership in collateral events/projects (Georgia, Slovakia, Armenia, Germany, Moldova), the film was shown publicly in Chisinau at Cinema Odeon, Spalatorie Theater and other public events.

Ghost Pavilion was initiated and curated by Stefan Rusu

The campaign was organised by [KSA:K] - Center for Contemporary Art, Chisinau in collaboration with Association Oberliht, Association Alt Film, Center COLISEUM, Theater SPALATORIE, ART PLOSHADKA, KINEMATIX Studio,
Media support: Casa IMAGO SRL, Theater SPALATORIE, Association Alt Film, Association Oberliht

Ghost Pavilion at 54th edition of Venice Biennial
Curatorial statement for Atlantis’11 Exhibition and Publication

The impact on the local art scene after this year participation in Venice Biennial of Republic of Moldova was significant. The first ever participation of Moldova at the Venice Biennial is more then contradictory, from one hand the Ministry of Culture denied that it is official presentation of Republic of Moldova claiming that selection was done by the Venice “Ministry” of Culture, from the other hand there was officially appointed commissioner, curator and 3 artists with individual projects selected without any public contest to represent Moldova at 54th edition of Venice Biennial. In fact, as art community found at some point, the initiative belongs to few individuals who decided to set up this year participation in the Biennial guided by their personal ambition and financial resources and so they convinced the people from the Ministry to issue the official permission. Later we found that Moldova is represented by three officially appointed participants who decided that it is right time to show their artworks in Venice. The fact that Moldova was presented via three independent and separately exhibited projects shows the luck of any cultural policy in presenting contemporary art at Venice Biennial. At the same time none of those three appointed participants represents, neither local art community, nor the contemporary art practices at large. In fact, what was shown in Venice are two exhibitions of traditional art (portrait and landscape painting by two young female artists) but also by an unknown object that could be found on the street of Venice installed by MOE “art” group (which a commercial brand) seeking to promote private sector agenda.
Actually in the case of Republic of Moldova we have a complex situation: the contemporary art context is active here since the beginning of 90’s, however the Moldovan society as well the bureaucrats from Ministry of Culture didn’t bother their minds to notice the existence of contemporary art community and the role of independent sector in promoting contemporary art practices locally as well internationally. This situation was conformed once more just before the opening of the Biennial, when a number of independent institutions wrote an open letter to Ministry of Culture asking the answers concerning the non-transparent selection process in the appointment (without any open call, contest or expertise) of commissioner, curator and the artists that were selected to represent Moldova at the Biennial.

The response from local art community to this situation was a public campaign titled GHOST PAVILION developed by KSAK Center and supported by number of independent institutions from Chisinau. The campaign comprises a series of posters designed by Igor Scerbina, a T-shirt project by Tatiana Fodorova, as well the contributions by other artists (Lucia Macari, Valeria Barbas), including MISSING LINK project developed by Adel Idris and Denis Bartenev in the frame of HEICO network, which were presented publicly at the Venice Biennial during Atlantis’11 exhibition and later in Chisinau.

For more details concerning the GHOST PAVILION campaign please check KSAK Center web page: http://www.art.md/2010/ghost_pavilion_en.html

Stefan Rusu – curator