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Oberliht Association & Druzhba Collective at Iasi

Vladimir Us, Ghenadie Popescu and Maxim Polyakov with special participation of Veaceslav Fisticanu, Angela Candu, Ionuț Ion Savin, Inga Spravedlivaia, Dumitru Musteață, Adrian Moraru,

OPENING: 2nd of September 2023, 6.00 p.m. Iasi
ADRESS: GreenHouse, Str. Sf. Atanasie nr. 25, Iași Iași is pleased to present a conclusive group exhibition that pivots around the critical premise of organisational structures and how artistic scrutiny spreads and permeates the formal construct.

OBERLIHT ASSOCIATION is one of the leading non-government entities working and evolving in the field of culture in the Republic of Moldova. It was founded by an active group of people in the first decade of the 21st century as a specific situational response to the city of Chisinau.

THE EXHIBITION is an attempt to widen the context by gauging our own unique position and how the concept of “the civil society” was deployed during the post-socialist transformation of our societies. The objective to investigate the genesis of the “civil society” and identify the seeds and the fruits of this contested conceptual construct is in itself a labyrinth chore. By juxtaposing OBERLIHT’s inceptive activity with the current activities of the Druzhba (translated as “Friendship”) Collective, we have added more layers of complexity to the task. The artistic practice of the Druzhba Collective is an attempt to escape the formal dictums that segregate and control the categories of art and life. The two initiatives are cohesively sharing the The House of Zemstvo (Clădirea Cârmuirii Zemstvei Guberniale a Basarabiei) space amidst the other large groups of cultural, political and social organizations.

Amidst the dense discourse, we have positioned the two Collectives and their representatives, Vladimir Us, Ghenadie Popescu and Maxim Polyakov, so that together they may embark on a rather difficult sojourn of reconstituting their movement of becoming in the city of Iasi. While this seemed utopian and not realistically achievable since all perspectives are continuously changing, we contemplated a methodology to engage the social relations alongside the coordinates of overproduction. Conclusively, we had to confront this overwhelming production with the most pertinent yet obvious questions of what, how, why and for whom?

Oberliht was “many” from the very beginning and they were all formally educated as “artists”. Developing its roots in the painting studio of Prof. Veaceslav Fisticanu, the group was constituted around Vladimir Us, Ghenadie Popescu, Ionuț Savin, Inga Spravedlivaia, Dumitru Musteață, Adrian Moraru and the well-accomplished artist, Angela Candu. Accepting an understanding of the social value of the 20 years’ old association, they all agreed to recreate and nurture its past in the current exhibition. Each artist contributed one work that has been a part of the nascent years of their artistic practice. The paintings are accompanied by a series of videos which serve as a documentation of group's graduation show followed by an after party of prof. Fisticanu’s class of 2003 and few other documentation videos of public events and exhibitions organized by Oberliht between 2003 and 2007. Interestingly, all these events were self-organized both from a financial and technical point of view thus operating outside the ambit of regular funding structures of what we term as “civil society”.

In line with the informal beginnings of Oberliht, DRUZHBA defines itself as “a situational cooperation of people around experiments with co-creation, coexisting and cultural-leisure activities” that is “actively working with ways to organize rapid reaction typography, collective production methods and dissolving of individual authorship”, thus making it extremely difficult to be reproduced outside of its premises. Drujba is an informal organization of a heterogenous group of people who meet and involve in creative activities but also share tips regarding possible lucrative jobs, attend social or cultural events or to simply bike together. The most obvious results of their cooperation/collaboration emerges through printed material such as books, fanzines, drawings and sketches. They also organise a wide range of social activities highlighting the processes of printing, community cooking, organizing parties and workshops.

We would like to thank and acknowledge the other institutions that played a crucial role in the ways artists organized and arguably influenced their possibilities to formalize cultural activities in Chisinau during the first three decades of post-socialism. Chisinau cultural scene was and continues to be much more complex than what we have included in this project. It comprises of a vibrant mosaic of public institutions and “civil society” initiatives, out of which we have chosen to focus on a very limited section that appears to share active similarities and associations with the contemporary art scene in Iasi.

SPECIAL THANKS to Veaceslav Fisticanu, Angela Candu, Ionuț Savin, Inga Spravedlivaia, Dumitru Musteață and Adrian Moraru who agreed to participate in this insightful project.

THE ASSOCIATION OF YOUNG ARTISTS OBERLIHT is a non-governmental, benevolent, politically non-affiliated organization, constituted in the form of a Public Youth Organization, which pursues the public benefit. It acquired legal personality on July 6, 2000. Founded in 2000 and based on a long experience as an independent cultural actor, the Oberliht Association aims to interconnect dispersed artistic scenes and form an artistic community, using public spaces. The association aims to support young artists and contribute to their personal development. It develops and maintains interdisciplinary platforms and projects aimed at connecting both local and international contemporary art and culture initiatives, and advocates for a strong and independent cultural sector in the Republic of Moldova and in the region. The Association's activity is carried out on a voluntary basis and follows the principles of self-management and non-profit.

VLADIMIR US (1980) is an artist and curator based in Chisinau, Moldova, founding member of the Oberliht Young Artists Association ( He studied art, curating, cultural management and cultural policies in Chisinau, Belgrade and Grenoble. Through his recent works and projects, Us explores the processes of transformation of public spaces in post-Soviet cities, while being concerned with the need to conceptualize an alternative network of public spaces for Chisinau.

GHENADIE POPESCU (Moldova, 1971; lives and works in Chisinau) interested in local (post-communist) particularities of common visions about identity, tradition, geopolitic mixture. Using different forms of expression such a performance, video, animation he refers to the absurdity of the world he lives and works in. He studied at the Academy of Music, Theatre and Fine Arts, Painting Department, on the basis of free attendance, Chisinau, Moldova and since 2012 has been mostly involved in personal stop-motion animation projects. Group exhibitions: Expanded space, Bucharest, RO (2017); Attention borders, Labirint gallery, Lublin, Arsenal gallery Bialystok, PL (2017); Cronograf Documentary Film Festival, Chisinau, MD (2013-17); One six of the Earth, MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilia y Leon, ES, ZKM Karlsruhe, DE; Shaping the new, Kosice, SK (2011); Rencontre de la performance, La Generateure, Gentilly, FR (2009); Un pas de cote, Die/Grenoble, FR.

DRUZHBA (eng. Friendship) is a situational cooperation of people around experiments with co-creation, coexisting and cultural-leisure activities. The focus of cooperation is work with printed matter and organising of events accompanying the presentation of the results of such collective work: cooking sessions, parties, workshops, plein airs. The Drujba is actively working with ways to organize rapid reaction typography's, collective production methods and dissolving of individual authorship.

MAXIM POLYAKOV is a cultural worker in DRUJBA cooperation, KOLXOZ collective and Oberliht Association. Most of the time he lives and works between Tiraspol and Chisinau. His current research focuses on methodologies for ‘samizdat’ (self–publishing), considering this practice primarily not in terms of object production, but as a platform to build and develop conversations, social situations and communication spaces. Examples include grassroots publishing houses and distribution centres, open studios and temporary services such as pop-up cafes and libraries.

This exhibition is part of the project ”Ways of Organisation” organised by Iași in partnership with 1+1 (Iași), ZaCin (Belgrade) and “George Enescu” National University of Arts (Iasi) and co-funded by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. This project does not necessarily represent the position of The Administration of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN is not responsible for the content of the project or how project results can be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the beneficiary of the funding.

The main partner of is ERSTE Foundation.

IMAGE: Vladimir Us, ”Vernisaj. 2002-2003”, camera: Vladimir Us, editing: Ghenadie Popescu, dv, 17 min. 15 sec., sd, 2002/2023