Home Art History Unveiling Art History’s ‘Back Stages’

Unveiling Art History’s ‘Back Stages’

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One of my most cherished teenage memories is the nightly rituals my sister and I shared. I lay in the bath and Marina sat on the stool next to me and we talked about friendship, art, love and loss. These were distilled moments of sisterhood, bonded by intimacy and boundless curiosity.

Such a curious symbiosis also shapes the exhibition “Backstage”, which reveals the story of the little-known Romanian artist Irene Codleano and her sister, dancer Rizica. They lived between Bucharest and Paris in her early 20th century, where Irene worked as an assistant to Constantin Brancusi and Antoine Bourdelle.The show opens with a copy of her bronze sculpture Vesnicie (Eternity, 1937) depicts the artist and his sister rising back to back from shallow water, their bodies and hair intertwined. But here the replica is veiled, symbolizing the way art history has obfuscated Codreano’s work and the Romanian National Museum (MNAR) refusing to lend the original to an exhibition. There is.

“Back Stages”, 2023–23, Anca Poteras Gallery, Bucharest. Provided by: Artist.Photo: Aurora Kiraly

After scouring the archives of MNAR and the Kandinsky Library at the Center Pompidou, curator Mirela Basiak, director of the Salzburger Museum, collaborated with artists Aurora Kirari and Sophie Thun to create a large collection of Codleano’s photographs, drawings, sketches and letters. I found a copy of it, but I was refused access to it. The original is in storage. I. Codleano Archive Box (2023) documents this research and includes images of the three women examining ring-bound folders, standing at a locked gate, and re-editing photos of their sisters. Masu. Use personification to reach knowledge. It centers women’s stories by embodying them, and uses re-creation as a strategy to replace lost details.

i-codereano-archive box
Mirela Basiak, Aurora Kirari, Sophie Thun, I. Codriano Archive Box, 2023, installation view. Courtesy of artists and curators.Photo: Aurora Kiraly

Thun’s backstage 2 For example, (2023) re-enacts a photograph in which Irene stands behind a seated Rizika holding a black cloth. This work is about the push and pull between revealing and concealing, how history controls what is remembered and what is discarded. backstage 3 (2023) is a collage of images of various sizes, at the center of which Thun’s silhouette wraps around a bronze bust by Codleano. The toon process involves cutting the negative and taking double or triple exposures in a darkroom. A white silhouette of scissors appears next to her hand, her fingers spread out like knife blades. The images show her lying on top of him in bed, kneeling behind her on all fours, and sitting with him in a tiled bath, all in a mode of provocation through recontextualization. It’s reminiscent of photojournalist Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub. However, when Thun gazes into the lens, the sexual overtones of such impregnation become neutral, and the structure instead suggests a search for intimacy, interiority, and understanding.

Anka Poteras Gallery Backstage
“Back Stages”, 2023–23, Anca Poteras Gallery, Bucharest. Provided by: Artist.Photo: Aurora Kiraly

Király HD video larva, pupa, butterfly (2023) propose another physical change. It depicts Codleano’s work in the archives of MNAR and is overlaid with text explaining “characteristic body parts, the transition from larva to pupa to butterfly.” Kirari wears a cape, on which he sketches carvings and paintings of Codleano. Sphinx. Lying nude. mermaid; flying bird;Kirari flaps the wings of her cape, jumps into the air, and launches Codreano’s attack. the work Inject energy and life into what has been hidden away in a solid storage unit.

Mirela Basiak Dear Irina
Mirela Basiak, Dear Irina, 2023, installation view. Provided by: Curator.Photo: Aurora Kiraly

Such perversions define this show, employing tactics of layering, restaging, revealing, and becoming. To reveal what history has excluded. Letter from Basiak to Codleano, Dear Irena (2023), fixed to the wall as an unframed paper, says it best. It says, “You paved the way for us.”[and] Inspired us to see ourselves reflected in the mirror of your history. ” The relational nature of sisterhood, and the intimacy of such relationships, are both of the self and of a misplaced legacy, a legacy that is obscured by institutions that limit the viable future of Codleano’s past. It becomes a methodology to overcome the quagmire.

“Backstage” On display at Anca Poteras Gallery in Bucharest until January 13, 2024

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