Berlin: Expoziţie despre România la Muzeul Culturilor Europene din Berlin

Intre 3 noiembrie 2007 – 16 martie 2008 la Museen Dahlem, Museum Europäischer Kulturen din Berlin este deschisa o interesanta expozitie temporara despre multiplele imagini ale Romaniei in Europa, de la imagini turistice idilice la contrastele contemporane, asa cum au fost vazute in fotografii realizate de fotografi germani si romani:
O ampla recenzie la aceasta expozitie poate fi citita in Newsletter-ul din ianuarie 2008 al ICME – Comitetul International pentru Muzee Etnografice al ICOM, la adresa:

A special exhibition at the Museum of European Cultures, BerlinMuseum of European Cultures

How does one present a country whose perception in western media varies
between negative headlines and glossy postcards for tourists? Images of
street kids in Bucharest give way to idyllic landscapes, begging Roma kids
contrast with modern shopping malls. Romania, a member of the European
Union for almost a year now, embodies many contrasts and contradictions.
The pictorial journey to Romania sets out in the second half of the 19th
century, when engravings are slowly being replaced by photographs. The
technology is new, but the choice of motifs is entirely in the tradition
of old paintings and lithos. Arranged studio photographs, often portraying
actors dressed as peasants or shepherds in traditional gear, give evidence
of the urban interest in the countryside at that time. Glorification of
rural life, combined with romantic nationalism at the beginning of the
20th century provide a fountain of clichés about Romania that have
persisted to this very day inside and outside the country. They can be
found on postcards, and in picture books and travel literature, even when
the reality has long since changed completely. The images have penetrated
deeply into the subconscious and the observer’s expectation accordingly.
The Berlin exhibition consciously juxtaposes these stereotypes with
numerous still photographs and moving pictures of Romania today: the
non-traditional view. The images have been conceived by German and
Romanian photographers, professionals as well as amateurs. They choose
their own point of view, their individual motif and detail, and thus a
mosaic of everyday life situations eventually forms itself into an image
of Romania that has nothing to do with high gloss pictures or sensational
press photographs. Instead, manifold realities of a country undergoing
radical change are revealed: a strong belief in progress confronts strong
traditional values; radical development is experienced next to regressive
standards. Against this backdrop a complex view of people in modern
Romania develops, with their creativity and their concepts of life between
wishfulness and reality.

In realizing this concept the exhibition does not follow the usual method
of putting pictures on display. The concept of changing the viewpoint is
not just pertinent to the exhibition but relates to its artistic design.
There are no extended texts explaining various aspects, but rather one
introductory and one associative text to introduce the concept. The
visitor is not prescribed one view of Romania, but is given numerous
possible approaches to the country. A great variety of forms of
presentation also allow for a constant change of viewpoint: large
photographs lit from the back are contrasted with series of small pictures
on large sized sheets. Film clips on small monitors stand back to back
with film projections. Like an eternal golden braid, a montage of
newspaper clippings from papers published in Romania is rolled out along
the walls.

The central element of the exhibition’s design –from which all photograph
series are hung –is a large, 2 meter high and 25 meter long spiral fixed
to the ceiling. On the outside of this flows the river Danube – in the
form of a digital projection. Following the ”river“ to the inner side of
the eddy the visitor faces a highly colourful presentation of large
photographs on the inside of the coil.

The coil itself also represents the basic concept of media within the
exhibition. This concept is a holistic one, giving equal value to all
media formats, be it engravings, photographs, film or animated computer
sequences. The projection on the coil uses particularly the emotional
value of the medium of film far more than its informational value. The
calmly moving image of the stream that winds 25 meters into the exhibition
emotionalizes the visitor and attunes him to the exhibition. This
installation is deliberately not meant to go beyond such only vaguely
perceived informational value, as are other media installations in the
exhibition, e.g., a film about a nunnery projected onto a wall of fog,
which leaves the visitor with a vague, mysteriously fading image of an
orthodox world. And no more than that; where other exhibitions frequently
use film in a didactic way to explain artefacts on display on a
meta-level, here film, or rather media, have themselves become artifacts,
integrated into all the objects on display. They are but one more
viewpoint relating to the complex concept of Romania, the nation. Their
content, form and function have become artefacts.

This didactic approach is almost futuristic. No film in the exhibition, be
it vaguely emotionalizing or of outright informative value asks for the
visitor’s attention for more than three minutes – the timespan any visitor
is willing to dedicate to an artefact, but every media item stands in
direct visual and conceptual context with all other artefacts, this being
a mutual relationship. This homogeneity unobtrusively but compellingly
leads the visitor to the basic conclusion of the exhibition: what is the
concept of the Romanian nation? The exhibition presents a multitude of
facets, but not encyclopedic knowledge. An approach to encyclopaedic
knowledge is given in the info gallery attached to the exhibition, where
the visitor will find a large number of books, newspapers, film and
internet-access that provide an opportunity for extensive study of
Romanian related information of all kinds.

The exhibition aims to raise an awareness of an image of Romania beyond
the common cliché and tradition. The unexpected perspective in conjunction
with the unexpected presentation opens the eye to surprisingly fresh
insights. It might help abandon those extremely persistent clichés about
Romania and might shift our image of Romania closer to reality – by a
change of viewpoints.

Wolfgang Davis, Beate Wild
The exhibition ”Rumänien – Blickwechsel“ is open to the public until
March, 16th, 2008, and will be travelling afterwards.

Exhibition “Rumänien – Blickwechsel”
Museum Europäischer Kulturen
Arnimallee 25D-14195 Berlin (Dahlem)

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