Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Răzvan Anton, Dragoș Bădiță, Mihai Iepure-Górski, Lucian Indrei, Mirela Moscu,  Ciprian Mureșan, Musz, Oana Năstăsache, Cătălina Nistor, Șerban Savu 

Curated by Cristina Curcan

September 3rd – October 29th, 2021


When asked about the meaning of the name of her 11thstudio album, Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, the American singer Lucinda Williams explained to The Huffington Post: ‘Where the spirit meets the bone’ is just that place deep down inside all of us where nobody else can really see. Everybody has different ways of dealing with that.

As the current global situation caused by the Corona virus can’t be ignored, we take a step back to clear our minds of sorrow and anxiety. Our individual lives have been affected, in different and hard to understand ways. Despite these difficulties visual artists went on with producing works of art, either out of the need to concentrate their energy in an artistic way or out of a desire to escape this new overwhelming environment that has taken over all channels of information dissemination, making it harder to maintain a positive attitude. 

The exhibition aims to present works made in an uncertain and stressful period, reflecting the artists’ condition and their ways of overcoming difficulties, restrictions, new survival requirements and ways of adaptation that emerged in a very short time. Most of the works in the exhibition were not made with the intention to be presented in the context of an exhibition, they are mainly attempts of the artists to detach themselves from the routine of isolation at home. Therefore, it is not about the reinvention of the artists, but an approach to deal with an exceptional situation.

Yayoi Kusama said in an interview: I fight pain, anxiety, and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieves my illness is to keep creating art. I followed the thread of art and somehow discovered a path that would allow me to live.

As human connection was/still is limited to virtual meetings, many of us started to engage more and more with our surroundings, developing an increased interest for nature, the loved ones and the furry companions around us; elements from our immediate proximity that didn’t seem to have so much to offer until 2020.   

As social interactions were paused, other types of interactions started to develop. Our encounters with nature can be poignant because they remind us that nature is something we are always meaning to get more interested in, but rarely get around to actually attending to. (Art as Therapy, Alain de Botton and John Armstrong). Houseplant sales grew considerably during the pandemic, since many had an urge to turn their home into a greenhouse, even if before the pandemic hit they only had a cactus and somehow managed to kill that too. The perception of experiences has shifted and we have ended up paying more attention to a leaf in the wind, a bird song or fresh rain drops. The exhibition proposes glimpses of such interactions: from inventories of the plants around the house, sketches or studies of loved ones, manifestations of loneliness by imagining fictional characters in the privacy of the apartment, to considerations on those few actors still active in the public domain (police officers, construction workers, etc.).

Reflecting on the state of the artist in general and disregarding the siege of the Covid-19 pandemic onto the population, the artistic environment does not change much. Precarity and uncertainty are present throughout the artistic practice in Romania, regardless of what happens outside the studio. Independent artistic approaches and attitudes in this fragile environment end up being enjoyed and archived, labeled at least we have this. A critique of them would be redundant, given the difficulties and sacrifices made to present something on the public stage. 

A recent study, published by the Cluj Cultural Center, on the effects of the pandemic on the well-being of the population concludes that: Negative feelings both before and during the pandemic were on a higher level for people working in culture compared to those working in other fields. *For a domain that is expected to contribute to the well-being of the population, this should be a concern to us as a society. Keeping the thematic tone of the project in which this exhibition takes place, we hope that the message of encouragement to support local artists will resonate as far as possible and of avail for the artistic community.

*Art consumption and well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic, part of Art&Well-being project, carried out by Cluj Cultural Centre (Romania), BOZAR (Belgium), UGM (Slovenia) and Bruno Kessler Foundation (Italy).