Critics’ Picks

Ștefan Sava, Can You Interpret this Picture?, 2015, press photos, found photographic prints, dimensions variable.

Bucharest

Ștefan Sava

Ivan Gallery
Dr. Dimitrie Grecescu nr.13
February 18 - April 24

Ștefan Sava initiates a study of ephemerality in his latest show by presenting four installations that deconstruct the idea of the archive, a recurrent subject in contemporary art. A multiplicity of perfectly configured gestures is represented here, including White, Gray, Black, 2015, composed of a wood tray, a mound of dust, and a video. In the video, we see the archeological practice of dusting with a brush and this creates anticipation for an unearthing of artifacts from the past, but all that’s revealed is a silver gelatin print of a blank, black image. Another installation, Ruins of a Day, 2015, comprises two large photographs and a video projected on a canvas, showing an open field where four columns of hay bales, reminiscent of ancient ruins, are suddenly destroyed one after the other by the artist pulling out the rope tying each stack together.

Two archives, one constructed and one found and presented as is, are central in this show. For the former, titled Can You Interpret This Picture?, 2015, a room’s walls are covered with aerial photos of war-devastated sites from World War I up through the conflict in eastern Ukraine last year. These images are abstractions—there are no wounded people, there’s no blood—war is here seen through the lens of mechanical gestures in a realm where destruction is a command. The second archive is a found collection of photographer Mathilde Ross’s negatives and fifteen prints of studio portraits taken of women from Hamburg in 1945 and ’46. Some of her photos are here developed and multiplied then distributed on the floors or in corners of the gallery to be taken by visitors. This gesture of shyly offered humanity reverberates throughout the show.