August 3, 2016


Love. Unconditionally

Most of the time we find it hard to talk about painful things, things that are to close to home, to our own beliefs. We prorate about rights, transparency, equality when, in fact, we would fantasize about ourselves as small dictators over the cultural space.

So why is that? There is a clue in the classic movie „An Affair to remember” (1957), when the divine Cary Grant answers to the dilemma of “What makes life so difficult” with “people”, of course. Or your neighbor, or your fellow man, whichever suits you, which is how the public discourse got contaminated with all sorts of quotes so carefully chosen, as if for a Romanian glamour event, for when needed and, especially, for when there is no need. Coco Chanel is probably twisting in her grave.

So how can we apply the theory of thy neighbor in the art of the streets or the art of life? Theory, just pure theory, because nobody seems to be putting it into practice. Let’s see how to communists applied it. Their era is much more relatable for us from all perspectives: economical, social, psychological. And it is becoming more and more evident than a new perspective, the administration of cultural errands.

If we ask ourselves why, we can also answer for ourselves: because the pursuit of individualism, the “chacun pour soi, je-m’en-fiche” attitude and greed cannot go unpunished.

So let’s recap with a little admiration in minds. Maybe we do think twice about the consequences, although that would be a shocker. Our antique stores are of great help because here you can recover pieces of recent history that show everything the totalitarian regimes of Romania experimented, things we put out of our minds.

Did you know that in 1948 there was a delegate of the streets? How about a handbook for said delegate? It contained therein, articles and articles, duties and work procedures such as denouncements, among others, but procedures nonetheless. The control and management of human resources where akin to perfection. The General Secretariat of Household Committees watched over it all.

Indreptarul delegatului de strada-page-001

The street delegate’s handbook. A collection of rules commissioned by The Bucharest Town Hall, 1948. Source: private collection.

Did the citizens have anything to complain? These were immediately handled by the street delegate, always listening, always alert, ready to answer to the expectations of his fellow citizens. Is that how it went? Let’s try to imagine what these complains sounded like: the quinquennium to be held every four and a half years, more coal for the country, Bumbeşti-Livezeni, or, to quote from the handbook, “Work is the honorary duty of every citizen of the Romanian Popular Republic”. It was truly daring to dodge voluntary work, which is what explains my total indifference and no reaction when hearing someone say “Let’s do this and that”.

Besides, voluntary work was something that the street delegate saw to, the main man in general mobilization. An activist for a party that was touched by the importance of his activity.

And now, back to our art of the streets. We indifferently go on our everyday routes, preoccupied with getting through with today, hoping for a better tomorrow. A nation of zombies, endlessly crossing the same roads, unable to observe them, not even touching them, really. Which would explain the unexpected success of some people and some acts that, in a world that knows what is going on (with it) and what is in store (for it), would throw them overboard.

Of course, we cannot ask for civic duty and solidarity where these seeds have not been planted nor encouraged in a place of fashion and passing trends.

On one hand, we are surrounded by indifference, on the other, we are surrounded by aggressiveness that has become an art form. The art of living a beautiful life is lost between piles of emotional trash that is suffocating. From a graffiti that causes waves of indignation due to our narrow 17th century views on life to a public discourse filled with hatred and resentment, everywhere we look we can observe how people are forgetting they are capable of beauty and grace, that our lives should be guided by living the moment, because we have so very little of them.

The art of the streets is acrobatics move between hurried people who are unable to see anything around them, abandoned cables, cobblestones that crumble under our feed and garbage cans. This could be replaced with spaces for lavenders, dahlias, hollyhocks and spectacular bird dances in the city sky.

Or graffiti that smile down from grey or yellow walls, surprise outdoor concerts, palpable feelings of indescribable freedom.

Strange. What department handles all these? What about us? I mean, come on! When can we start to work on them? CAN we still?

prin rep pop romana-page-001

The street delegate’s handbook, 4th cover. “To new and grand acts within the Romanian Popular Republic”. Source: private collection.

Marin Preda told us 60 years ago that time had no more patience. We didn’t believe him.


Andreea Grecu

Andreea Grecu is a cultural manager and lecturer. Between 1999-2004, then from 2009 onward, she is active on the NGO scene, as member of cultural associations and professional unions in domanis such a...

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