Plan B

Alexandra Croitoru

05 Oct - 10 Nov 2012

© Alexandra Croitoru
The Cabbage Process, 2012, video, 35'49''
Nu uita ca esti artist! Do not forget you are an artist!
5 October – 10 November 2012

Galeria Plan B Cluj is happy to invite you on Friday, October 5 to the opening of the solo exhibition of Romanian artist Alexandra Croitoru in the new gallery space in the ground floor of the Paintbrush Factory.
The screening of the film The Cabbage Process will be accompanied by an intervention on the façade of The Paintbrush Factory – one of Constantin Brancusi’s famous aphorisms made by students of The University of Art and Design Cluj: Do not forget you are an artist! Do not be discouraged, do not be afraid, you will make it! Create like a God, order like a king, work like a slave!
The Cabbage Process
Thank god for the cabbage! Thank god for Mr. Aurica, a truly golden chap (even if we're talking some sort of diminutivized gold here*)!
How can Art and Cabbage be rendered compatible? Conversely, what is the connection between the University of Arts and learning (orthodox) mural art? Tradition. Tradition itself is laid out like a cabbage: leaf on top of other leaves, painting layer on top of other painting layers, every time a fresco, Canon.
Nothing disparaging in this: if only we put the same amount of care into art as Mr. Aurica puts into the cabbage he pickles for others with rigor and craftiness, year after year, observing and maintaining age-old recipes and methods. A true craftsman, an artist perhaps, according to the old meaning of the term which is still in effect here, compared with the young apprentices.
Mural painting or painting, pickled art**? The process of cabbage pickling is the process of eternity itself, the model of tradition. No hint of the present permeates this isolated cult-like, mystical place where the recipes of Pickled Art are transmitted. The University of Arts is such an isolated place where the secretes of Cabbage and of Sarmale***, embodying Tradition itself, are being passed down.
Mr. Aurica operates, which is to say that he transmits his Secretes under the gaze of western universal art models. And although occasionally our smiles almost break into laughter, Alexandra Croitoru's film is only indirectly criticizing: only to the extent to which the situation the Art School embodies, away from the world, is not an isolated occurrence but a generalized one which we all recognize in our strict already chronic present.
Don't we all live most of the time disconnected from life, history and our times, sheltered from ourselves by walls and screens populated with all kinds of icons? Don't we fill up our lives as if they were sarmale, struggling, at the expense of our very lives, to perpetuate and maintain alive symbols, representations, conventions, cliches in which we have long ceased to believe, have never believed or could not have ever believed? Don't we daily paint with our lives, on walls and screens, the Lives of Saints, which cannot be drawn just like that, God forbid, but in an ascetic, spiritual and “pneumatic” manner?
The final banquet from the refectory of the Art University represents our secret sect lives which we shape for living in society. The School-Society of daily training for sanctifying and honoring the Holy Canons in which we do not believe but in which we wrap out finely minced Flesh so as to resurrect the supreme Pickled Art of the eternal Sarmale.
Social art endlessly teaches us how to ritually bury the Cabbage of Tradition and how to get reborn adapted to the Winter of history, as eternal Pickles.

*The name Aurica can be traced down to the Latin Aurelius, meaning golden. However, Aurica is a diminutivized form of Aurelian.
** The original Romanian text is based on a pun between “arta murala” (mural art) and “arta murata” (literally, pickled art).
*** Traditional Romanian dish consisting of meatballs wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves.

Text by Bogdan Ghiu

Alexandra Croitoru (b. 1975) is a visual artist based in Bucharest (RO). Between 1993 and 1998 she studies at The National Academy of Arts, Bucharest; since 1999 she teaches at the Photo-Video department of the same institution; since 2010 she is researching on the cult of Brancusi in Romania in the frame of the PhD programme of The National University of Arts, Bucharest; since 2011 she is cocurator of Salonul de proiecte, Bucharest.

Tags: Constantin Brancusi, Alexandra Croitoru