Peace in Nature after the Upgrade

A portrait on the building’s stair well with the plants that you pass as you climb to reach the 7th floor. I’ve never seen so many pots with ficus house plants, aloe, vine-like green objects, ivy, geraniums, half wilted cacti, pittosporum, dracaena plants. I made my way through them with difficulty as I was climbing the steps.

It is a collocative dream of nature, as much of it as possible, brought into the urban environment.

Just like 2000 trees that were planted somewhere at the edge of town after you just cut 400 trees from the city center.

Just like the people fill in Cișmigiu garden who get to walk on 50 linear meters between a drop of water and the peacock cages, if unsold helium balloons shaped like Disney characters would fly over Cișmigiu garden.

They’re a bigger hit in Herăstrău.

They sell faster in Piedone’s park in sector 4, between rock imitations with bronze imitations of wolves, stags and deer.

The nature within the basement gallery Victoria Art is made out of pieces, glitter and representations, just like the Anthropocene.

The search for nature is supposedly generated by urban restlessness (and how many times can one generically reiterate Caspar David Friedrich?) and finding it, when it happens for real, not on National Geographic Wild, is supposed to trigger inner peace.

I am remembering my most recent outing „in nature” using a 3D mental exercise – it was around September, on someone’s land, close to Bucharest. Volumetric: ups and downs on a field with lots of wild vegetation, trees, bushes, tall grass. Texture: some sand. Volumetric: layers of rush surrounding a small lake where three people where fishing. Distances: a few hundred meters through the shrubs, till you reach the secular trees, covered in grey spider webs, flooded by bushes (leafage) which we enter as if they were caves. The body: feels too many touches that could be insect legs. Cadaster: the electricity supplier was at the edge of the X hectare property. Juridical: this nature belonged to someone, it had edges – from one piece of land to the other – and, at least according to the law, the three fishermen where illegally trespassing on someone else’s private property. The memory of the place: fire traces, some trash near the road side. Small: bulrush’s head, stones. Distances, in time: about half hour from one end to the other.

This art show reiterates the fact that those who are part of Nucleu 004 are also part of the city. In the city you can evict, renovate or demolish in order to build another, more segregated city, you can cultivate indoor plants, or write messages on walls. About almost anything. Among the trees that were planted in wooden pots that were surely way too expensive. Debris is being transported and sand is being sold. Rent is being paid.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the rural area, everything that is situated at certain distances from cities, is an economic compound of objects and situations, only visible when fairs, floods and protests happen, where life and poverty appear mediated by so much greenery, the sunsets and, when the sky is clear, you can see the mountains.

Born and raised in a village in Bacău county, Madame X frequently crosses the border over to “the Hungarians” by train, to stuck up her rural store that makes home deliveries to the nearby villages. She gets cheap biscuits and fabric from Suceava. Across the border she buys diabetes products, pots and pans, toys, cotton t-shits, fleece jackets. Things our body needs and uses daily.

In between commodifications, satellites and ethnographies of isolated populations, the planet has been completely anthropofied, just like a vestigial body. Human nature, with its cyberpunk upgrades about which I read in PDFs downloaded from aaaaarg, lumps together geological and biological processes into political landscapes. In which of these landscapes should we search for peace, if the pursuit of inner peace and happiness seems such a fundamental human right?

I’m more scared of Windows XP and Vista becoming unsupported, than of the absence of inner peace.

Meanwhile, artists host nature survival workshops on the outskirts of towns and print out booklets about edible forest plants. Sometimes they shed light on social injustice.

In the background, nature 2.0 belongs exclusively to the event, organized between earthquake dates, drought dates, the nearest Spanish tomato harvest and holidays – national, religious, and school related.

The installations, films and photographs included in the exhibition are within the boundaries of Zen claustrophobia set against a background of generic macro-social conscience. Nature is the theme but the city is the subject, behold a classical aporia at Victoria Art Center. Just like in your own apartment, this problem can be solved with 6 hours of ocean sounds.

But, more importantly, Nucleu carries on, bringing together people that are very active in “the local contemporary art scene” and people who are exhibiting their work for the first time – like Irina Maria Iliescu, whose video installation has the power to summarize this 4th edition of Nucleu: in what appears to be a cell in a BDSM dungeon with Ikea furniture, a feminine fetish-character watches on her super-HD LCD screen ideal images of nature. The images look a lot like those clips made of landscapes and details (flowers, mountains, lions, savanna trees) one can watch on repeat in Bucharest buses that still have working TV screens, while slowly getting across town.


Nature v2.0 Nucleu 0004 at Victoria Art Center, Bucharest, 20 January – 20 February 2016
Exhibiting artists: Lia Bira, Roberta Curcă, doamnadia, Florin Frătică, Irina Maria Iliescu, Kiki Mihuță & Bogdan Olaru, Marina Oprea, Maciej Rerek, Rio Rio, Alexandra Terzi, Vangjush Vellahu.
A project coordinated by Gabriela Mateescu and taietzel ticalos.


Simona Dumitriu

Simona collaborated until 2015 with Ileana Faur, Marian Dumitru and Claudiu Cobilanschi at Spațiul Platforma, an artist-run space supported by the National Museum of Contemporary Art / MNAC in the An...

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