And the neighborhoods in Bucharest are worth seeing and hearing, not just the Old Town and the main arteries, I think Sorana Greucean and Ana-Maria Toma. And while talking about it with their friends, whom they also invited through Obor or FAUR, the idea of the project came to them. Neighborhood stories. It is one of those 33 selected projects to transform the city and bring art closer to its inhabitants within the Bucharest program Re: imagined – Scholarships for ideas for cultural projects organized by the Capital City Hall through ARCUB.
Regarding the city’s public transport network, with very frequent stations, I found that they can become the container of some history. It is impossible not to have a story near any STB station in the city. Those in transit wait at least a few minutes for the bus or tram and, inevitably, their eyes will remain on a display like this, says Ana.
Their project involves the placement of large posters with stories of the city in the stations of public transport. The posters will contain a work by a visual artist, starting from the area where the station is located, a very short story of the place, written by a prose writer, a QR code that sends the reader to the story in extenso in reading an actor, writer or TV & media professionals. The integration of these stories will be done in a digital application, with the map of these stations. How they will implement these ideas and what their connection is with the neighborhoods in Bucharest, Sorana and Ana-Maria continue to tell:
Sorana: Ana and I also have many friends and acquaintances established in Bucharest – either residently or temporarily. Our permanent surprise is that many of the residents do not actually go out in the city, do not know its places, although they have lived here for a long time. And of those visiting, most navigate between the Old and Roman Centers. Some of them are fascinated by “life in Bucharest” – which I see only in the Old Town, and others complain that Bucharest is shaking them – as I used to do. Basically, residents or visitors actually live in a bubble that can be made anywhere in the world.
I say to many: “Dear ones, when you come here, you have to walk through Obor or go to the memorial houses of Minulescu and Rebreanu.” Those who come more calmly fall into my trap, but most remain in zone 0.
Talking about it with Ana over coffee on the phone, we woke up saying, “Well, how nice it would be for all these cool places to be seen and felt by others, just like us.” That was before the ARCUB contest of ideas. Basically, the contest came as a glove on our idea.
Ana: We have often thought that the places in Bucharest can be told in a way that will “catch”. Then, regarding the public transport network of the city, with very frequent stations, I found that they can become the container of some history. It is impossible not to have a story near any STB station in the city. Those in transit wait at least a few minutes for the bus or tram, and inevitably their eyes will remain on a display like this.
What seemed important to us was that the stories should not be limited to the historical ones, but should go further, towards contemporaneity, towards the stories that were even formed. yesterday. Another important aspect was the expansion. What we found interesting was not at all central. The FAUR space, for example, is almost unknown to the people of Bucharest. We wanted to stories din the neighbourhood.
Ana: The ARCUB contest of ideas helped us to better outline the idea, in a concept with several directions / objectives.
First of all, we want the inhabitants to know their city better. In all its corners. Second, in order for a story on an STB station to attract attention, it should be accompanied by visual and auditory elements.
Because we wanted the stories to be current, we thought of offering a public exhibition space for those who contribute to the cultural identity of the living space. Visual artists, writers and narrators are inspired by the city, represent it and, at the same time, become part of urban stories.
Ana: The first step is to identify the “umbrella with many spokes” under which it will be implemented. Being a project that can be extended both horizontally and vertically, there is a need for a management that already has such large-scale projects in its portfolio.
Then, the hardest part, in our opinion, will be documenting the objectives with stories. Even if at the beginning we will limit ourselves to a few dozen, we will need the support of museums, archives, OAR, etc., to “draw” the map of objectives. At sea, we have the neighborhoods targeted for the beginning, such as: Gara de Nord area – Matache Square (sector 1), Obor Square area (sector 2), Uranus area (sector 5).
Sorana: At the same time, the visual artists who will illustrate the objective, the prose writers who will write the stories and the narrators who will tell them for the audio format will be selected.
Then there will be a longer period for the above to complete the work and at the same time, the developers will work on the application that will complete everything, including audio stories.
We are thinking that in the end, we will make a route / an opening of the exhibition in the places with displays, curated, with biscuits and wine, as it should be.
Why just neighborhood stories
Ana: During my 13 years in Bucharest, in the Budapest area, in Berceni, Obor, Chibrit Square and in Noi-Dămăroaia Bucharest, I lived. I’ve always been looking for information (historical or current) about my area or neighborhood, sometimes with the certainty that I might be able to find some landmarks and connections between what once happened in that space – or what it currently offers me – and the roads. which brought me right there (and nowhere else).
In other European capitals you can find out some essential things about the cultural identity of the place where you are from the few lines tastefully displayed at every mouth of the subway, or at a street corner, having the opportunity to find yourself in a story of that space , to know him to an extent that you can decide if you want to know him more closely or to live with him. In Bucharest, there is little such information exposed in the public space, most of the times chaotically placed or left to rot. I don’t think it’s enough to have a (in the meantime vandalized) map with “you’re HERE” if that HERE doesn’t tell you a story.
Sorana: I used to come to Bucharest quite rarely, usually on business and, obviously, I couldn’t understand any of it anymore, traffic, agitation, hurry. I was tired. Then I once came to a friend – also from Banat, who had moved here for about 10 years – to stay for a week. No work, this time. During the day I walked the streets, and in the evening I went to a theater, a book launch. One of the days I was walking on Ferdinand, I put my nose in a very cool gate to see the yard. There was a lady in the yard who seemed to be taking care of the house. I talked for about an hour. He told me about homeowners and their generations, about constellations, reptiles and African chocolate.
When I left, I realized that I had met Bucharest for the first time. That’s when my internal GPS was activated. I was no longer afraid of the city, I could do much better with the means of transport, I sensed where I was and where I had to go.
It’s like having a co-worker with whom you have a cordial relationship with the coffee machine in the hallway, which you suddenly catch at home, making pancakes in sweatpants.
Now I live in Vitan, but as often as I can, I take the same walks. For example, while walking around Dristor, I found a “escape” on Camil Ressu Boulevard that amused me.
The cultural area of Ro: topics of discussion, topics, obsessions
Ana: Unfortunately, the cultural area of the last few years seems, from the inside, somewhat broken. We know that a lot of projects have been hijacked and configured for online content only or have remained, at best, in stand by. Those who managed to break through tried to do everything by the book, including from the perspective of security measures, to apply or even invent new possibilities to attract and retain the public. The themes inevitably address recent events and dramas of the present or, on the contrary, try to provide a temporary (and illusory) exit context. General obsession: fundraising, organizing events with physical presence and recovering the public.
The new wave of artists. What surprised you
Ana: I don’t know if we can talk about a new artistic wave at every new pandemic wave. The recent trends have come with NFTs :), with art that must necessarily “sell”, to increase that “share”. With art in improbable spaces, with even more multimedia, with even more recycling, with discourses on gender identity, with broader statements than the work itself. It remains to be seen how long the exclusively traditional techniques will impress, if we return to an art mainly tactile or synesthetic and, in the same vein, to what extent will disappear (again) the barrier inscribed with “do not touch”, having in given the fact that for a long time I could only watch from a considerable distance. What surprises me? That the presence and status of art in the public space are still problematic in our country.
The effects of the pandemic
Sorana: A very good result of this crisis has been a much greater accessibility due to the online environment in which our lives have taken place – from events to shopping. People attended a much larger number of shows, classes, book launches, etc., because they could watch them even from Canada. This good habit has been preserved by many, through the live transmission of the events that take place physically, contributing enormously to the notoriety of the creators of culture and not only.
What made it worse? The fear. General. But this can also be a plus, because we feel that we can live more alive, in the present.
The new relationship of people with art
Sorana: If you also refer to the last two years, I think that in terms of expression (artists, writers, musicians, etc.), the last two years have brought a great hunger for living manifestation. Lack of audience In Play it was for many a cut of artistic expression. On the other hand, I noticed a hunger to absorb artistic expression from the audience. It occurred to me that after the pandemic we may find it difficult to return to art life, but that is not the case. The first unrestricted events were sold-out, regardless of field. I think people feel differently about their value.
Ana: Although several independent organizations or institutions are trying to bring to the fore events that are based on cultural interference and to restore that diverse local artistic community, I have repeatedly found, with regret and amazement, that a large part of the public remains indifferent, if not obtuse, to certain segments that are unfamiliar to him or that he does not expect to meet elsewhere than in an event or a dedicated space.
For example, audiences gathered for concerts or performances in a gallery that – obviously – exhibits works of art or (even) books do not seem to perceive the presence of other “cultural goods”, the spectators of a play ignore the book from which the script started and which awaits them when they leave the performance hall, etc. I think we should try to remedy these dissociations because, ultimately, most art forms cannot exist (or cannot be perceived in essence) without each other.