The Indecis Space

Gabriela Mateescu talked with Mimi Ciora and Sergiu Sas, founders of the Indecis (“Indecisive”) space, opened to the public in January 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, in a flat on 2 Coriolan Brediceanu Street in Timișoara and is currently in transit to a new physical space, holding various pop-up events around the city. These two “indecisive people” share how they started their career as space “coordinators”, first meeting as a quartet with Cristina Luchici and Vlad Cadâr in the private apartment of one of the members. Space 2/2 was an artist-run space where artists’ friends gathered from time to time to exhibit in the broken living room on the ground floor of a block, where the first applications for funds were not yet experimented with. Still, only free time was turned into the pleasure of helping colleagues and displaying exhibitions that could be visited by appointment. The Indecis space was a natural evolution for the Mimi and Sergiu when they met Florin Fâra, who wanted to open a bookstore dedicated to art objects and publications. Thus, their small space and large terrace became “the place to be” in Timișoara to see interesting exhibitions, enjoy vegan snacks, or drink cool lemonades while petting the building`s cats.

But this type of “home-gallery” is not foreign to Sergiu, who was involved in two such project, after first having opened the doors of his own apartment between 2012 and 2014 to artist friends and other art enthusiasts, professionals, and amateurs in Timișoara. The space, called alkmylab was his first cultural initiative, and since Sergiu is an engineer and works in the IT field, he continued to co-fund the activity of these spaces out of a passion for art that later manifested itself in conceptual practices, video art and installations of his own.

Mimi Ciora has a Master’s degree in Graphic Design – Matter and Concept at the Faculty of Art and Design, West University, Timișoara. She is Sergiu’s partner in crime in two artist-run projects (Space 2/2 between 2019-2019, Indecis from 2020 to present) and co-funds one of the most interesting and active artist-run spaces in Romania from doing workshops and courses with children when she is not writing projects. Her artistic practice often revolves around the relationship between flora, fauna, fungi, and bacteria in their connection with man (the human, female body); and addresses how human intervention marks the environment.

What it means for the two to fund a space from their own sources, to apply to strenuous funding, to hold a diverse curatorial program that grows year after year, and how they manage to balance life as artists and organizers, all this and more we attempt to discover from Mimi Ciora and Sergiu Sas. Because the work and sacrifice behind their wonderful projects and picture-perfect events often go unnoticed and unheard, the story of a space of ideas that has been transforming physically and in membership since perhaps 2012 needs to be archived.

Gabriela Mateescu, artist, curator and editor of ARTA magazine, continues the research she started in 2022 in ARTA magazine issue 54-55 on the theme of artist-run spaces in Romania. This time, Gabriela decided to contact several spaces in Timișoara and talk to their coordinators about the challenges they have faced since their establishment and in some cases, their closing.

This investigation aims to shed light on a number of important issues related to the organization of cultural events in such spaces, and how they have evolved over time – highlighting their history, the reasons for shutting them down, how they manage to survive, or how they have adapted to socio-cultural changes. Last but not least, the research looks at how these spaces have influenced and contributed to the development of Timișoara’s artistic community, supporting emerging artists and local cultural projects.

The research will be materialized through a series of interviews that will be published on three different platforms: ARTA Magazine, Propagarta and Spam-Index. 


Tell us the story of the Indecis space, how everything started and your current projects. 

Alongside Mimi and other artists, we have gotten involved into another artist-run type of initiative, Space 2/2. It suddenly stopped working at a time when it was beginning to grow and gain visibility. This left us with some frustration and a desire to continue. So we took things into our own hands and soon afterwards the opportunity arose to get a space in the ultra-central area at an affordable rent. We joined forces with Florin Fâra who was looking for a space for The Secret Garden Bookshop, we thought a gallery and a bookshop would go well together, and so we began. We opened on 24 January 2020 with the exhibition “The Line” by Alexandru Grigore. Soon after the first exhibition, the pandemic came. Then, a rather difficult period followed, yet we still managed to organize events. Limited number of people, sign-ups, temperature checks, subtle cursing and other pandemic-specific things. In our first year of activity, all our projects have been low-budget, funded with our own money. At the end of the year, we got a donation from a very well-known Romanian artist, and I remember we used some of the money to pay the rent while the rest went to the next three artists with which we collaborated. (I’m not sure he wants his name mentioned here, but we will give it away by stating that he helped us a lot afterwards, not only through donations but through a personal exhibition he did at our space). Whatever, I don’t want to get into more details, so fast forward 2022 and 2023, we’ve been included in the bid book of the cultural capital and this way we got some more consistent financing for our space, therefore, we have been able to develop our activity. The most important projects are Culture Quest and Cozzzmonautica. Culture Quest is an educational project through which we collaborate with various scientific research institutions and more. We invite artists to hold workshops with themes combining art and science for young people. Cozzzmonautica is a hybrid sci-fi/science/art event invented and curated by Ștefan Tiron. We have had the joy of contributing as organizers for the last two editions. Other important projects for us were the exhibitions “New Temporealities: The Xenogeneses of S.F.” curated by Stefan Tiron, “EXTR-Activism. Decolonizing space mining” curated by Saskia Vermeylen, “Activități” (“Activities”) expo Dan Perjovschi. Now that we are writing this, we realize that we are being unfair to the other exhibitions and events we have hosted. All of them were important and dear to us, we mentioned the latter ones because their scope attracted a lot of visibility to the space.


This is the second artist-run initiative you have coordinated together. Tell us about how you started and how your project has changed over the years.

The first artist-run initiative we were involved in together was the 2/2 Space we mentioned earlier. There, we were involved initially with several artists, after which we remained in a 4-person formula alongside Cristina Luchici and Vlad Cadâr. The location was Cristina’s apartment, a very cool space with a special charm. We managed to organize a series of very cool and powerful exhibitions. But Vlad withdrew at some point and eventually Cristina didn’t want to continue either. So we were left with just the two of us and no “playground”. We didn’t know whether to continue or not, we found a space but we weren’t totally decided. Hence the name Indecis (“Indecisive”). Eventually, we made up our minds and started the new project. Looking back, we can say that for many years we were a classic artist-run space with low-budget events. With the cultural capital, we had to “get professional” and broaden our skills. We also had to learn to write projects, do budgets, etc.


Sergiu, I know that 12-13 years ago, you started opening your home to some meetings in order to organize happenings. How was that period and what was it that made you keep at it?

There was a home-gallery – alkmy lab – that I opened precisely because of the lack of non-formal exhibition spaces at that time. It operated irregularly between 2011 and 2014, I think. The idea of a home-gallery seems a bit naïve now in 2023 when pretty much anyone who wants to do an exhibition can find a space to host it, but those were different times. It was a series of events, mainly exhibitions that had a wonderful energy and made me want to start up again, in a different form, a few years later. I think it worked pretty ok as a social link between artists in Timișoara at that time. I cooked at every event, I think that also gave an air of familiarity to those gatherings.


Recently, you had to give up the wonderful headquarters in Liberty Square. What are the difficulties of maintaining an independent space and what are the sources of financing such a space?

Although the financial aspect is probably the number one enemy of independent spaces, we somehow managed to make this not a huge problem. Instead, the problem came later on the thread of the degraded synapses of a neighbor’s senescent age due to which we had to leave the space. But let’s get back to funding sources. The rent was not very high and was paid from our sources. And to shed a little light on these mysterious sources: my salary as an IT engineer, Mimi’s drawing classes, and Flo’s salary as a typographer. Later on, we started writing projects and from there we got some money and a few more substantial donations.


How much time do you allocate to this space and to organizing the exhibitions? I know that Mimi manages the organization full time now. How has your involvement in organizational matters evolved?

At the moment Mimi is the main engine of the space and devotes a lot of her time to managing it. Preparing an exhibition takes a variable amount of time, depending of course on its scale. The longest I think was the preparation of the Cozzzmonautica 2022 exhibition where we thought of doing an open call. We received 100 proposals and it was, predictably, quite difficult to choose 15 of them. In the end, we selected 24 proposals and we did the preparations in 2-3 days. During this, we gained experience over time and it is now running quite fast. Involvement in the space has increased with the approach of the Timișoara – Cultural Capital 2023 event. We have been included in the bid book, I think at the end of 2021. That came with several commitments. Things got complicated for us in 2022 and 2023 was the peak.


You are both artists. Did you start this project with the thought of mainly promoting yourselves and your friends, and as you progressed you would become more “professional” and write curatorial texts, organize large-scale events with international artists, expand your cultural offer with conferences, workshops, launches?

Pretty much everything you mentioned except the part about promoting ourselves. We haven’t done any solo exhibitions in the space. The only presence I think was mine (Sergiu) with a work in a group exhibition, which initially took place in Vienna and only then we brought it to us. I hesitated whether to leave the work in the exhibition or withdraw it precisely because it seemed a bit strange to exhibit yourself in your own space. Mimi didn’t exhibit in our space at all. I know that promoting yourself and your friends is one of the main drivers in opening an artist-run space, and there’s nothing wrong with that, on the contrary, it’s cool, it just doesn’t suit us. 

It’s great that you put the word “professionals” in quotes. We don’t identify with that word. We’re not amateurs anymore either, having already build some history I think we can call ourselves “experienced” 🙂


Your space does not have any features for the art market. As a space supported with your own funds and what else you manage to earn through applications to various funds, how do you see the future and sustainability of such a space, which is much needed on the local scene, but difficult for the initiators to maintain? Artist-run spaces usually close when the energy of the coordinators runs out, when working for free becomes too much, or when they turn into other entities, galleries, or are attached to other institutions. How do you envision the future of the space?

Given that we lost our physical space this summer, we can say that we are in a rather difficult moment. On the other hand, our team has recently expanded with a new member, Gavril Pop, and we also benefit from the help of Alina Doros on the PR side. In other words, we have new energy in the team and we are confident that we will find a new space and continue our work. In fact, we have already started planning for next year. We will also participate for the first time in a fair dedicated to artist-run spaces, the Supermarket Art Fair in Stockholm.

A future problem will, of course, be funding. With the completion of the cultural capital, we suspect that funding will also be substantially reduced. But we are artist-run, so we can also manage a low budget 🙂 We are very keen to continue the space’s educational program, the Culture Quest workshop series, and the workshops Mimi runs with children. It would also be sublime to do more projects with Cozzzmonautica. We’ll see.


Supporting an artist’s run-space means a lot of community work, opening your doors to artists, dedicating yourself to them, and making the exhibitions come out as good as possible, and often the artist is too exhausted to return to the studio. How much time do you have to devote to your art? Do you consider this to be one of the drawbacks of running an artist’s run-space, the fact that gradually the initiating artists, because of the work of organizing the space, do not have time to devote to their art?

Unfortunately, we had less and less time for our artistic activity. This year none of us managed to make a single piece of work. We blame it on the intense activity we had on the occasion of the cultural capital and we hope that next year we will be able to do some more work. Indeed, coordinating a space can be a downside for personal artistic activity, but not necessarily. I think it’s up to each space. Some spaces operate no-budget or low-budget and then it is much easier to organise an event. People come with their work from home, you put it on the wall or wherever and that’s it. We have complicated things with project writing, implementation, reporting, accounting, etc. Also check out the civil service terminology we use 🙂

Translated by Liliana Popescu


*This journalistic material was produced with funding from Energie! Creation Grants, awarded by the Municipality of Timișoara, through the Project Centre, within the national cultural program “Timișoara – European Capital of Culture in 2023”.

The material does not necessarily represent the position of the Timișoara City Project Centre and the Centre is not responsible for its content or how it may be used.


Gabriela Mateescu

Gabriela Mateescu is a Romanian artist and author who lives and works in Bucharest, working with video, installation, drawing and performance. Her work is feminist, autobiographical and self-referenti...

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