Launch event Matei Bejenaru: PRUT

Friday, 21st February 2020, 6:00 PM
Art Encounters Foundation

Art Encounters Foundation invites you to the launch event of the book Matei Bejenaru: PRUT, in the presence of the artist and the editor of the book, Alina Șerban.

Started in 2011, a few years after Romania joined the European Union, Prut project is an archive of documentary photography that currently contains around 1,500 negatives. The process of mapping the territory of the Prut River Basin, now the natural frontier of the new European political construct at its easternmost end, meant for Bejenaru an artistic engagement with a quasi-invisible rural world, one of the poorest in Romania and Europe.

Structuring in the form of a photography book the visual material gathered as result of the artist’s research in the counties Iași, Botoșani, and Vaslui, this volume manages to portray in a personal manner life events and expressions and the material culture that define the communities from the Prut area, catching a glimpse of the way in which they have understood to negotiate their position in the new world based on the neoliberal order. The photographic material is organized into five chapters – Territory, Habitat, Economy, People, Mundane – , accompanied by texts written by art historians and curators Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans, Anca Verona Mihuleț, and Alina Șerban, anthropologist Puiu Lățea, and theorist Sezgin Boynik.

Prut manages to contest a rudimentary kind of reading of the rural area when it comes to major themes, such as poverty, migration and archaism, and also the tabloid type of journalism that contaminates our understanding of the realities of the area.

Matei Bejenaru is an artist based in Iași, founder of Periferic Biennial, and professor at  George Enescu National University of Arts, Iași. His artistic approach, encompassing photography, video, performance, and installations, starts in most cases from an in-depth research either on a certain historical context marked by the change of social values and production systems, or on the personal histories of the characters he portrays. His most recent exhibitions include: Same Histories, Anca Poterașu Gallery, Spinnerei Leipzig (2019); ARCOmadrid, Anca Poterașu Gallery, București (2019); Prut, The Peasant Museum Bucharest (2018);  netWorks, MAGMA, Sf. Gheorghe (2017); Appearance & Essence, Art Encounters Biennial, Timișoara (2015); Showtime, ABC Contemporary, Zürich (2014); Matei Bejenaru: Art into Life / Life into Art, The Artery Gallery North Adams Massachussets (2012, solo).

Alina Șerban is an art historian and curator. Since 2011 she coordinates the editorial program P+4 Publications, dedicated to Romanian contemporary art and architecture. Together with Ștefania Ferchedău, she started at the end of 2016 the project The Institute of the Present, a research and an artist resource platform in the field of visual and performing culture. Alina Șerban curated exhibitions at Salonul de Proiecte, București; Uqbar Project Space, Berlin; Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel; Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck; Fotogalleriet, Oslo. In 2009 she curated the exhibition The Seductiveness of the Interval at the Romanian Pavilion, the 53rd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, and at the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago in 2010. Together with Kalliopi Dimou and Sorin Istudor, she curated the research project Enchanting Views: Romanian Black Sea Tourism Planning and Architecture of the 1960s and 1970’s.

This book has been edited under the auspices of P+4 Publications, an editorial program established in Bucharest by the art historian Alina Șerban with the support of the Association pepluspatru. Dedicated to Romanian contemporary art and architecture, the program explores the books medium as a meeting point for scientific research, design experimentation, and the ideas and topics addressed by artists and architects in their practice.

Photo credit: Dan Vezentan / New Folder Studio
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The launch of Matei Bejenaru’s book in Timișoara is part of the Art Encounters Foundation’s program CAMP – CONTEMPORARY ART MEETING POINT, a platform for dialogue and public engagement in the knowledge exchange mediated by contemporary art. Cultural project co-funded by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund (AFCN). The project does not necessarily represent the position of AFCN. AFCN is not to be held responsible for the content of the project, nor for the ways in which the results of the project might be used. Those are entirely the responsibility of the beneficiary of the grant.