Monday, October 31, 2011

Review post test (TBA review India Myers)

The video installation “Rite of Spring” was captured by Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor and was presented at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) in their Time Based Art (TBA) show at Washington High school. It displayed the streets of Romania, full of white fluff that fell from the nearby poplar trees. Children are shown on the screen next, burning the fluff for fun. One can see the joy and fascination from the children’s body language as the fluff is lit and quickly disappears in smoke. The artist were hoping to demonstrate renewal and cleansing. Of what? The audience can’t be sure, but the images are captivating.
Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor both live in Bucharest, Romania and have been working together since early 2000 and are represented by Lombard Fried Projects in New York. While they mostly work in film and photography, they also have painting, performance, and installation work. Vatamanu and Tudor are often inspired by the “social upheaval of post-communist Europe”. They are both highly accomplished, having done duo and solo shows that have been shown throughout Europe and North America. They won first prize at the 2006 Fair:Play Video Film Festival in Berlin. Their work was also featured at the 2007 Romanian Pavilion and the 2008 Berlin Biennial.
Their video at the PICA TBA show presented their normal voice of “social upheaval” but with a whisper of hope. Vatamanu and Tudor drew inspiration from the riots and anti-war protest that have been happening all over the globe, from France to the Middle East. The fires they produce in these protest are meant for destruction, but the blaze from the lighters in their video produce excitement from the kids and pleasure from the viewer. Sometimes, in this video, the trail of fluff ignites a tree and a firefighter is close by to put out the flame. This flame is supposed to represent a change in the world order, but maybe it better highlights the idea of rescue for all these world problems.
Just watching the video slips one into a feeling of surrealism. Seeing the fluff burn so quickly and disappear so suddenly is shocking. It doesn’t seem real, or in real time at least, but the video is not sped up. A flash from the children’s lighter and it’s gone. But, the children are another aspect of the video that are interesting. From an American perspective, the sight of these children with a lighter can make the viewer uneasy even though there are many adults watching them. It leaves the audience wondering if these adults are parents or family members of the kids or if these are just street children, making a toy out of fire. Whether the idea of children with fire makes one uncomfortable or not, it’s hard to deny the astounding nature of that fluff from the poplar tree burning so brightly before vanishing into the air.

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