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[Nettime-ro] An art gallery in Ceausescu's Palace
vladimir bulat on Thu, 9 Dec 2004 13:56:53 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-ro] An art gallery in Ceausescu's Palace


>The Romanian National Museum of Contemporary Art has opened in a wing of
the vast building 
>Romania's new National Museum of Contemporary Art has opened to the public
in Wing E4 of the vast Palace of the Parliament, popularly referred to as
"Ceausescu's Palace". At 270 by 244 metres the building is the second
largest building in the world (after the Pentagon).
>It was built by Nicolae Ceausescu, dictator of Romania from 1965 until his
public execution in 1989. Construction began in 1984, but the massive
structure was never completed. To clear land for it, Ceausescu bulldozed
7,000 homes and 26 churches in southern Bucharest and relocated over 70,000
people to the outskirts of the city. 
>Utterly kitsch in its anachronistic dictatorial neo-baroque style, the
palace Ceausescu wanted was never inhabited by him or his government; after
the 1989 revolution Ceausescu was tried and executed. The palace was
abandoned and there was talk of a possible demolition. However, in 1994 it
became the site of the new Parliament of Romania. In 1998, the parliament
voted to create a Romanian Museum of Contemporary Art and install it in the
palace, most of which still lies empty.
>Mihai Oroveanu, an ex-jobbing photographer, who is now director of the
museum, has been a supporter of the project from the beginning. "This
museum had a long gestation. It is thanks to the interest of the Prime
Minister, Adrian Nastase, himself an art collector, that we obtained a
portion of the Palace of the Parliament. Politicians never considered the
museum a priority, and I would not say that there is a real cultural policy
in Romania, but nevertheless they put money into the project", he told The
Art Newspaper.
>The museum occupies a modest 4% of the gigantic palace. Its interior
contrasts sharply with the palace's bombastic exterior: a series of stark
white rooms are distributed over four floors. "The part of the palace
allocated for the museum was not yet completed, so we finished the
construction and got rid of the decorations, to make the space as neutral
as possible", explained Mr Oroveanu.
>He will use the gallery to promote young Romanian artists and also host
travelling exhibitions from foreign museums. The opening line-up includes a
show of Romanian artists who have made work on the theme of the palace
itself; an exhibition of Chinese video artists curated by Swiss-born
curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, which travels from the Musée d'Art Moderne de
la Ville de Paris; and an exhibition curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, director
of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, that includes work by artists such as the
South African Kendell Geers and French installation artist Franck Scurti.
The latter two shows are sponsored by the French embassy in Bucharest. The
museum's board of trustees also reveals strong French support: it includes
Mr Bourriaud, and Catherine Millet, the influential French art critic and
>Mr Oroveanu has no illusions about the new museum's difficult position:
"The location of the contemporary art museum inside the Palace of the
People is a controversial one, and I am very aware of that. But due to the
severe economic situation in Romania it was not possible to build a new
museum; we would have had to wait at least 20 years". 
>Dan Perjovschi, a Bucharest-based artist, is among the harshest critics of
the new museum. Passionate and disillusioned, he explains: "My generation
is ideological. We survived the system. I cannot forget that one quarter of
the city of Bucharest was completely demolished to build that palace. It is
the visualisation of the ugliest fantasy of a dictator we loathed. For me
it is bad enough that the Palace was accepted as a political icon for
today. It is like a bad joke. Art is being used again as propaganda. The
most suitable thing to do would have been to open a historical museum to
display Ceausescu's weird stuff." 
>The opening exhibition, "Romanian artists, and not only, love Ceausescu's
Palace!?" (until 25 March), focuses on the controversial building and
includes works by Romanian artists, beginning with portraits of Ceausescu
from the museum's collection of over 2,400 depictions of the late dictator.

>By Marina Sorbello  
>"Let me, at least, to know that she'll try
>Then she'll be a true love of mine"

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