Various strangers wake up one by one in a series of empty adjoining rooms. Each room contains elaborate traps and tasks that the occupants must resolve. There is no apparent connection between them, and each individual seems oblivious to their place in the given scheme. This describes the opening scene of the intriguing science fiction movie Cube (1997), but a version of it is being rendered at present at Gaep. The exhibition Back to Where It All Began is one of the three stages of Accelerator, a program that seeks to define a model for long-term cooperation with young artists. Spanning 2022 and 2023, it is attentive, among other things, to the need young artists have for full support in order to turn their ideas into reality. This support goes beyond “ad hoc” exhibition projects; it provides professional assistance and good production conditions, and it creates a context for the art produced and a dialogue around it.
Instead of a theme or a topic, the concept of the exhibition draws on the structural specifics of the program, which generate a distinct dynamic between those involved. A two-year program, Accelerator acts as a platform for sharing and discussing ideas, knowledge, and professional experience. With this in mind, and without the constraints of a “classical” group exhibition, which would tend to illustrate a particular curatorial discourse, the presentation attempts to transcend meta-discourse, focusing instead on the new work produced by the ten participants, whose artistic positions reflect various ways of contending with our contemporary social environment. This reverse approach has the double effect of highlighting the importance of the artists’ conceptual and formal interests and of foregrounding the responsibility galleries and institutions have for improving production conditions. In this way, Accelerator becomes an example of a group of people using bonds of companionship or joint agency for an objective to create innovative formations both within the program and beyond it.
Regarding its context, one more aspect needs to be considered. Accelerator started in the post-pandemic period, which was a critical moment in programming for galleries and institutions. A crisis often means that institutional mechanisms are unable to operate and make a positive impact, but it can also be an opportunity for new initiatives that entail increased personal and social exchange. A parallel can be drawn to Viktor Misiano’s text The Institutionalization of Friendship, which argues that friendship is the least institutional and most personalized form of social communication, resulting not from formalized procedures, but from the rhythm participants discover when they listen to each other.
With this relational aim in mind, the ten artistic positions are brought together to show that art can be a highly relevant type of communication in a time of crisis. Consistent with the unpredictability of the medium as such, the contrasted meanings and the formal relations between works – photographs, video, objects, paintings, installation, drawings – reveal the exhibition as a multilayered, composite, and ambiguous entity that challenges its own foundations. But there is also a point where the ten artistic practices meet in the most profound way – not in their formal or conceptual resemblance, not for the sake of illustrating a theme, but in their sincere agency to reflect relationships within society. That is why the idea of the exhibition will not end when the exhibition closes and the program concludes. It will continue to exist and evolve as a new form where it all began. In the artists’ uncompromising work.
Text by Tevž Logar, curator
DOWNLOAD the exhibition dossier to read about the artworks (pdf, in English and Romanian)
WALK THROUGH the exhibition with Mihaela Dedeoglu (Zebra radio show, RFI România), Andrei Breahnă (Gaep’s co-founder) and Tevž Logar (curator)
Accelerator. Mentoring and Production for Emerging Artists is financed with the support of EEA Grants 2014-2021 within the RO- CULTURE Programme and is implemented by Asociația Culturală Eastwards Prospectus in partnership with Gaep (Bucharest) and i8 Gallery (Reykjavik). The project unfolds from 1 October 2020 to 30 September 2023. Its total budget is 1.069.301 lei (216.707,74 euro), of which the value of the non-refundable financial support (85% EEA Grants and 15% national budget) is 962.370,90 lei (195.036,97 euro).