“I find myself at the entrance of the long marble hall. On each side the stone blocks of The Prisoners, still trying to escape, lead towards the giant sculpture bathed in both artificial and natural light.
‘This place is better than the original’, I remember myself thinking, while walking towards the naked adolescent whose strained body was caressed by the shadows of clouds passing by. The boy is staring into the void next to me, and I can read fear in his stare, as his left hand reaches for the slingshot.
A boy afraid of becoming a man, a man afraid of becoming a king.
Facing his nemesis, David is forced to change. His veins are pumping blood, his body is set in motion. A motion that will turn a boy into a man, a man into a king, a motion that can only lead to decay. He knows it, and that is what he fears, not the giant.
Like beauty, masculinity is pure plasticity, and thus subjected to change, to culture, to education, to exercise. But what really interests me is that specific moment when boys become men and men become kings, when places become images and images fade into memory.”
– Ștefan Botez
“Between the Forest and the Sea, Ștefan Botez’s first solo show in Romania, brings forward seven of his works. The scenography envisioned for this exhibition reveals the artist’s background as an architect. Without eluding the artistic approach, he stimulates the audience to enter a universe generated by chaos and order, noise and silence, reality and fantasy.
Ștefan Botez’s recent preoccupation regards the human body with a focus on the male one and the way it reveals itself through unaffected, natural instances, questioning the dualism of the male body – how it looks and how it is seen by society.”
– Teodora Dinu, curator
T.D.: The exhibition’s set-up marks your architectural formation and at the same time highlights the importance of scenography in the exhibition space, as an element that backs up the artistic discourse. What is the concept behind this specific set-up, how important are lights, sound for you?
Ş.B: Light and sound imbue the whole space, I consider them invasive elements. The concept of the installation came with the first images I first saw from Karolina Bregula’s exhibition that you curated, which looked really good, and I found the space incredible. I recounted the many basements and old houses as locations for parties at the beginning of 2000s in Bucharest. I was walking through the gallery’s basement while installing the works, many of the elements where fitted up, and it seemed funny, I had the impression I was in a memory, but a memory in which fresh elements were inserted, from a different time and space.
T.D.: In some of your works you assume the position of a scientist who analyses from a distance and registers the activity of his subjects without interfering. What is the reason behind this choice? Is it related to the naturalness, spontaneity, veracity of the gestures that turn into an artistic act, or is it just a cinematic resort?
Ş.B: One of my projects, a series of five videos, is called On How to Become a Film Maker. It’s a name I came up with after some conversations I had with Jeniffer Allen, and has an ironic significance, consisting of recordings of training sessions, physical exercises, the series being at the same time a practice, a study of image and style. I reference my love for cinema and my desire to become a director. Going back to a former question, I realize that masculinity becomes a pretext for the study of image and its power of seduction, of beauty if you want.
My video works were influenced by two artists, Mounir Fatmi and Ali Kazma, whom I also had the chance to meet during an internship at Analix Forever, a gallery from Geneva. Some of their works belong to this minimalist, dry movement, in which, as you say, the artist “assumes the position of a scientist who analyses from a distance and registers the activity of his subjects without interfering”.
Ștefan Botez in conversation with Teodora Dinu, January 2015