Setting up the Art Safari 2016 exhibition space is the project that launched us, and that we invested in as our manifesto: bringing back to public life the unused spaces of central Bucharest, through art. We want to stop the long ongoing list of interventions that diminish the significance and potential of historical monuments through a project that cleanses the dissonances, but at the same time exposes, as warning, our tolerance to the abandonment and mutilation of public and cultural spaces.
The Dacia – Romania Palace was amongst the first bank buildings of the 1880’s budding financial district of Bucharest. Upon it, successions of political, economic and cultural changes imprinted, and its initial Viennese monumentality and elegance were fractured into generic spaces and appearance. Its atrium, the brick vaults, the curved walls, the cupola, the columns, arcades, statues, corridors and decorations were hidden behind lowered ceilings, plaster dividing walls, cold lighting, cable beds, laminated furniture and chipped stickers.
We took out all parasitic elements but chose to keep visible their traces on the walls and floors. The Palace thus returns clean to a transitioning status, awaiting ennoblement through art. The new exhibition walls are shorter than the room heights, keeping the original space whole. The route is painted dark grey, as a brush stroke on the pavement, the corridors, stairs, thresholds and doorsteps become amniotic pathways and frames opening towards the light exhibition rooms. To signal its return to public space and context, we lit each window with an orange neon – a kind reminder of the central exhibition dedicated to the DADA movement, and also a warm guide for the visitors. The Palace turns from stranded vessel, a lighthouse.
Initiator and partner: Art Safari Bucharest, Ioana Ciocan curator
Collaborators: Anastasia David, Andrei Moldoveanu, Andrei Cumpănășoiu, Marc Patrulius
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