Critics’ Picks

View of “Omnia Communia Deserta,” 2020. Photo: Lola Pertsowsky.

View of “Omnia Communia Deserta,” 2020. Photo: Lola Pertsowsky.

Brussels

Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor

La Loge
Kluisstraat - Rue de l’Ermitage 86
September 3–November 28, 2020

Within the clean, vertical lines of this former Masonic temple, silence sounds almost reverential. La Loge is the ideal setting for Romanian duo Mona Vǎtǎmanu and Florin Tudor’s “Omnia Communia Deserta,” a sober meditation on Omnia Hall, the Brutalist Bucharest arena that once housed Nicolae Ceaușescu’s seat of power and is now finishing renovations to become a National Center of Dance.

The installations in the temple, all composed from objects formerly at Omnia, index the decay of Ceaușescu’s authoritarian socialism. Roots (all works 2020) occupies the center: ornate wooden columns, once standing in planters of Romanian soil, now lie on the floor like Mikado sticks. Behind and around them hangs The Spread of Time, white swathes of dust-patterned fabric which once backed the acoustic panels of the hall. In the basement, a video titled Omnia Communia Deserta, features cultural theorist Ovidiu Tichindeleanu guiding the camera through luminous ruins. He pauses in the scaffolding above a glass ceiling, unraveling the meaning of its honeycomb shape. What once stood as a utopic symbol of unity is now unmasked as a tool of surveillance, as are the microphones hidden in the auditorium’s armrests.

Vǎtǎmanu and Tudor’s representations of political power culminate in an upstairs presentation of paintings chronicling decades of global protest. Unlike Roots, their meanings aren’t static; from the Iranian Green Revolution to active autonomous zones, the images vibrate with unresolved possibility. The artists suggest that movement itself leads to change, and that hope lies in the futures not yet within our understanding.