Rennaissance Society invites us to the space between

New exhibit showcases themes of vulnerability and memory in mixed media

By Jordan Larson

In Seductiveness of the Interval, the form is just as important as the content. The Renaissance Society’s latest exhibit attempts to give a multicultural look at vulnerability, action, and memory. A collaboration between Romanian artists Stefan Constantinescu, Andrea Faciu, and Ciprian Muresan, the exhibit is a mixture of video, audio, and mixed media pieces, all shown together in one house-like structure, complete with separate rooms and hallways.

Although the exhibit does not present an exclusively Romanian perspective, the mark of the brutal regime of pre-revolution Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu is certainly present, though the influence is far less obvious than one might imagine. Constantinescu’s two video pieces depict a man’s personal crisis on public transportation in “Troleibuzul 92”, and the lives of Chileans immigrating to Romania and Sweden in “Passenger”. Both works explore the relationship between the public and the personal.

Muresan’s two video pieces deal with the nature of revolution and torture: “Dog Luv” depicts several scenes of dog puppets torturing each other, while “Auto-da-Fé” creates a narrative out of political street graffiti.

The exhibit’s only ray of happiness comes from Faciu’s work “EXUBERANTIA suspended”, a mixed media piece consisting of one room playing an audio track, and a small garden on the roof of the exhibition’s all-encompassing structure. Seductiveness’s theme of vulnerability is most clear here. As Faciu explained in the discussion with the artists, the garden is meant to represent hope and the frailty of life.

According to the artists, the exhibit attempts to function as a theater piece, with each work representing a separate act. The structure serves to unify them by acting as a stage. According to the artists, one of their main influences was French playwright Eugène Ionesco, who emphasized the space between acts. The space between the exhibit’s installation rooms are these intervals—the spaces between the different acts in the play. At one point, Constantinescu quipped that “an artist should be really active, otherwise they die out.”

Therein lies the seductiveness of the interval: In the space between acts, the viewer isn’t doing anything. The intervals between rooms in the exhibit act as negative spaces in which the viewer can consider their role as participants in the play. Or perhaps the interval is seductive because of its relief from the pain depicted in the video installations; the exhibit is pretty bleak in its depictions of torture and repression.

Seductiveness of the Interval succeeds as a group exhibition. The structure, though seemingly redundant, does make one aware of one’s progression through the exhibit, which is an experience in itself. And according to the artists, we are privy to the exhibition’s best realization to date. Although the exhibit debuted at the 2009 Venice Biennale, the artists believe that the exhibit works much more effectively at the Renaissance Society, as they “couldn’t realize as beautifully in Venice.”