Critics’ Picks

Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor, I dreamt the work of another artist, 2013, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Vienna

Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor

Galerie Andreas Huber
Schleifmühlgasse 6-8 2nd floor
March 14 - May 10

The Romanian duo Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor have been making work about the transitions of Communist to post-Communist societies since 2000. The title of their exhibition in Vienna, “46º19'41“N23º12'44”E Geamăna,” refers to the geographic coordinates of the gold-mining region in Romania where they shot their latest film All That Is Solid Melts into Air, 2012–13. Not only are precious metals unearthed there, but also a large-scale overexploitation of nature is exposed. The film shows tracts of land that are saturated with poisonous chemicals, through slow-motion camera pans across green, ochre, and red marbled surfaces that at first seem like paintings and on closer observation materialize into a thoroughly apocalyptic scenario. A sound track underlines the destruction of nature represented here by means of abstraction. Excerpts of speeches by Socialist politicians such as Salvador Allende of Chile and Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, as well as a reading from the Book of Revelation, turn the work into an impressive, total composition.

In a second gallery, Vătămanu and Tudor present the installation I dreamt the work of another artist, 2013, which was originally developed for the Kunsthalle Lissabon in Portugal. Here, construction materials such as rebar, gratings, dirt, and sheets of polyethylene are arranged in relation to a photograph of a photograph of a man in an exotic setting that they found in a garbage dump. “The image,” the two artists say of this work, “led us to some connection between geographical areas, some narrative that could link our modernist utopia in Eastern Europe with other stories maybe in Latin America or elsewhere.” The precariousness of contemporary living conditions in a post-Communist context take on a sculptural form of expression in this piece—globalization meets art, and content, ultimately, meets form.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.