Interview with Olivia Niţiş
Author: Gabriela Mateescu
Published on: 12.01.2015
Recently the 6th edition of the International Experimental Engraving Biennial (IEEB) had its opening at the “Brâncoveanu Palaces” Cultural Center Mogoșoaia.
IEEB is Romania’s premier international experimental printmaking art festival. Over the past 10 years the Biennal has established itself as one of the most respected events of its kind in the world. IEEB gives the Romanian community new ways of looking at the world and new ways of seeing and understanding the art of printmaking in contemporary society. Each exhibition enlivens the public spaces with contemporary art and encourages dynamic curatorial practices.
The IEEB6 events take place at the “Brancovan Palaces” Mogoșoaia, Victoria Art Center, Aiurart Contemporary Art Space and Atelier 030202 between 13th December 2014 and 29th March 2015. We`ve contacted Olivia Nițiș, one of the founders of this event, to share some background information.
Gabriela Mateescu: Let's talk about The Experimental Project. Who is involved and how did you get started?
Olivia Niţiş: Ciprian Ciuclea and I were involved for some time in organizing IEEB and other projects and so in 2010 we have decided to develop an Association that could reflect our interests in contemporary art and give us the independence that we needed in order to access funding. And so Experimental Project came through. It was more like a consequence of our work that allowed us to consolidate our positions not only as individuals working separately in our carriers, myself as a curator and Ciprian as an artist, but as an organization. We have other two funding members and one of them is Andreea Micu, our project manager.
Laszlo Hathazi, micro voltage meter and plant, 2012.JPG
GM: This is the 6th edition of the Biennale. How did it all begIn and what do you predict for the future editions?
ON: Ciprian is the initiator and director of the Biennial. It all began in Timisoara in 2000 following his reactions towards the ways in which graphic arts and especially printmaking were perceived, generally as a conventional wall type art. IEEB is meant to restore printmaking as part of contemporary art and although it has its specificities in technique is not that separate from the contemporary art discourse. After all, printmaking is around us, in books, newspapers, advertising, clothing and so on. So if it is a part of everyday life that is contemporary art.
The Biennial moved to Bucharest in 2008 after Ciprian and I met and we had the 3rd edition in Mogosoaia. Since then we are working with Mogosoaia Cultural Center and with several galleries and art spaces in Bucharest.
It is not easy to continue organizing such a large event, as we are dependent on financial support in a context of less and less interest in financing contemporary art events. We can only hope to move on to IEEB7 and focus on the relationship between art and science.
Mito Gegic, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, duct tape on canvas, 40x30each, 2010
GM: Tell us about this year' s edition. Who are the curators, the artists and the galleries involved?
ON: IEEB6 is focusing on Ecological Thinking and Practices. The main curator is Javier Martin Jimenez president of the cultural association Hablar en Arte in Madrid. He made an international selection of 16 artists for his concept The conquest of the Impossible. As he states “This exhibition has an added component that plays with the viewer’s perception: a show of graphic art with almost no engravings. The language used owes much to graphic art, making it seem like something it is not, because the techniques employed have little to do with traditional printmaking. Appearances can be misleading, and only when the viewer looks very closely at the works or reads its label will he recognize the drawing, photocopy, digital print or other materials such as fabric. As is only right, techniques are not determinant, they should only help to narrate the message.”
Tamas Kaszás, Sci FI Agit Prop, silkscreens on cardboard, europalet, 50x70cm, 2009-12
The other curator we have invited is Adriana Oprea a researcher in the Archive’s Department of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest as we were looking for a small archival type show that could offer a young historian’s perspective on Romanian art and the edition’s theme. Satisfaction of Basic Needs reunites works from a few Romanian artists (all women by chance and not by control) a part of them from the Contemporary Art Museum collection and creates a studio atmosphere with focus on the Marxist ideology representations before 1989 on factory/agriculture/economy landscapes and the current interests in environmental issues.
Michael Golgruber, Harvest, video, 3'57'', 2013
I have curated at Victoria Art Center the show called Circumstances Favorable to Natural Selection that includes 3 Turkish and 3 Austrian artists. The artists configure a space of intersection where national identity functions as a tool of deconstruction on a larger critical platform where Darwin’s theory as a point of reference is counterbalanced by empirical data, contemporary perspectives on biodiversity and what we call the “natural” architecture of our planet. There are two more upcoming events: Dan Perjiovski’s talk on the 15thof January at Atelier 030202 and the exhibition dedicated to the work of two Romanian senior artists Ethel and Silviu Baias (News Report: Calamity) from the 4th of February.
Maria Garcia-Ibanez, Tierras continuas, digital print on cotton paper and fabric, 70x50cm each, 2014
GM: This year you talk about ecology. How did the artists manage to answer the problem that was raised?
ON: The artists were selected because of their interest in these issues.
Ulrike Konigshofer, Adaptation of Species, pencil on inkjet print, 50x40cm, 2009 and Reproduction, 6 out of 100 repetitive photocopies of the image of Charles Darwin, 40x30cm each, 2009
GM: How is Romanian art standing in this chapter? Do artists see engraving as a contemporary method?
ON: I think that the opinion is not unitary. But it has to do with the experience and practice in the field. Also it has to do with the way printmaking/engraving is taught at Universities, and we do hope that through our contribution the perspectives on printmaking are changing. This is not a fixed category, that is dealing with certain techniques, it is also dealing with concepts, with ideas of transgression, where we stop thinking in labels and small boxes, where print is not just a print, is the art of print and a roll of toilet paper is both a piece of sculpture and a printmaking work.
Olivia Niţiş (b.1979, Bucharest, România) is a curator, and art historian. She is a researcher at the Institute of Art History „G. Oprescu” of the Romanian Academy and vice-president of Experimental Project Association. She has published her PhD focused on Marginal Histories of Feminist Art at Vellant publishing House in Bucharest in 2014. She is a member of the International Art Critics Association since 2009 and regional coordinator for The Feminist Art Project (Rutgers University, New Jersey) since 2008. She organized the first international feminist art project in Romania, Perspective 2008. Her contributions to international publications include Gender Check: A Reader Art and Theory in Eastern Europe, edited by Bojana Pejić, ERSTE Foundation, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna in 2010. She was co-curator with Bojana Pejić of the international exhibition Good Girls. Memory, Desire, Power in 2013 at MNAC (the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest)