Curated by Mihnea Mircan
Ciprian Mureşan’s exhibition project for Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani draws on the juxtaposition of loss and recuperation – understood not as contradictory drives, but as part of the same social dynamic, and follows the ways in which they activate each other in causal loop. By detour, the project asks who the winners and losers are when society educates, controls and shapes participants to the game. The provisional answer seems to be that power is not knowledge but ways to dispense knowledge, means to generate simultaneous, alternative interpretations. And that the “will to interpretation” is infinitely more intricate than the will to power.
However, theoretical deliberation is present as a persistent aside and does not impede the visual construction of the show, which appears as an elaborate inventory of obsessions, all deriving from the artist’s relationship to his son, a 7-year old who has just enrolled in grammar school. The father-and-son dialogue becomes the site where fear of losing control, of the son being subjected to an entirely new range of influences and threats, resulting in the catastrophe of growing apart, could and seem to trigger panic (and an aesthetic in tandem with that), like an invitation to psychological interpretations and all their massive simplifications. Psychoanalysis, as an interpretive tool, is invoked and refuted, while iconological instruments are tested in their accuracy and relevance.
Finally, this transversal move involves the view according to which art is supposed to reveal the interiority of the artist, to disclose unwittingly buried meanings and uncomfortable truths, and, on the other hand, a post-conceptual treatment of this very idea. Both are suspended and an evident choice is not made: Mureşan is neither betrayed by the trajectory of a line or a puzzling iconographic detail, nor is he persuaded that these things are out of the question. Interpretations are subtly held in check and the discourse is poised halfway between modes of confession and their critical interrogation, revolving around the improbability of radical truth. Instead, we have a remarkable visual construction that could be ironically called “Ciprian Mureşan and A Memory of His Childhood”, to rephrase the title of Sigmund Freud’s famous misreading of Leonardo.
The display consists of four pieces made especially for this exhibition and a video previously shown at the Periferic Biennial in Iaşi (2006), in which children rehearse the “Rhinoceros” by Eugéne Ionesco, where the absurd of play collides with that of reenactment, game and impossible social roles. The other works pick up and deepen this look on childhood. There is a strange family photo album, where loss and recuperation are deployed in endless repetition. The visual structure of a famous Hieronymus Bosch painting shows through a large-scale installation, that consists of drawings of children playing. The ingenuously copied “Gospel of St. John” suggests the possibility of cheating on the Last Judgment, like a carefully prepared defense strategy for the worst-case scenario. There is a home video with a twist, in which the artist’s son tells a story that impatiently rushes through the Genesis and revelations, video games and the necessity of prayer. The minor incidents in the video, like the protagonist’s inability to remember details or sometimes to concentrate, his narrative improvisations, lapses and slips, his acting for the camera, replicating either the mannerisms of the talk-show host or that of the religion professor, spur a reflection on the principles of education and the institution of childhood. Other, social voices infiltrate the dialogue between father and son. As a whole, the show demonstrates, with artistic and intellectual brilliance, the cultural construction of both artificiality and spontaneity – in both art and life.