The Experimental Station for Research on Art and Life*
This is a project, a site and the expression of a utopia. It is a bet and a promise, an experiment and an investment into a future we can still shape.
The Station is the result of the shared desires and beliefs of a small community built over years, around values such as love of art, respect for nature, friendship, belief in emancipatory practices, sharing of resources, mutual trust.
The Station is a joint venture of a group of artists, curators, theorists, economists and others, who, together with tranzit.ro, co-own and co-manage a plot of land in the village Silistea Snagovului, 30 km north of Bucharest, in the proximity of a protected natural area (forest and lake). Situated in a long-duration perspective and throughout a participatory, open process of building and contextualizing, the Station aims to become:
- a centre for contemporary art and research;
- a centre for the study of nature;
- a resource and residency centre;
- a prototype for a cultural institution grounded in a locality shared with its community, situated in a post-development narrative and based on ecological and ethical principles.
The Station is:
- building on the legacy of tranzit.ro/Bucuresti as an interdisciplinary space for an integrated understanding of culture and nature;
- responding to global challenges: the cultural challenge, where institutions expand their walls but not their thinking and build thousands of square meters while firing employees; and the climatic challenge, which increases social gaps and makes access to culture restrictive, besides destroying life in general;
- proposing the first contemporary art institution in the proximity of Bucharest that is built from the ground on sustainable, ecological and ethical principles;
- going back and yet forward, to models of collective ownership and (self)management.
The Station develops organically, integrating different communities in the process. It grows over time, which allows for people to sediment it into their consciousness. It is built around art, because, like nature, art doesn’t exist in itself but in a network of relations and contaminations; because it preserves memory and it opens up the imagination; because society is already producing emotionally crippled citizens and art is a way to fight that; because art can build communities. The Station has nature as the other half of its core, so it demands care and attention, while giving back shelter, food, ideas and pleasure.
The Experimental Station for Research is collective work that addresses also our limits, not only our wishes. It is a learning site, where we try to act what we preach, and a test site, where we don’t have to constantly produce and deliver.
The Station’s members include the following people and institutions: Anca Benera, Andrei Gavril, Arnold Estefan, Dana Andrei, Eduard Constantin, Florian Niculae, Iuliana Dumitru, Livia Pancu, Maria Eichhorn, Marius Babias, Olivia Mihălțianu, Ovidiu Țichindeleanu, Raluca Popa, Raluca Voinea, Stoyan Dechev, Thomas Poeser, Vlad Basalici and tranzit.ro Association
Planning and building process:
Mentors and companions: Doina Petrescu & Constantin Petcou (atelier d’architecture autogérée)
Advice and facilitation: Alex Axinte, Cristi Borcan
Long-term programme partners:
"Arta + societate" Association, The African-Balkan-Caribbean Society
With input from: Anna Smolak, Charles Esche, Anetta Mona Chișa
*The concept of “life” is used in the sense advanced by anthropologist Arturo Escobar, following the understanding of indigenous Latin-American groups for whom the destruction of "nature" or the "environment” signifies the annihilation of life itself. Arturo Escobar: Territories of Difference. Place, movements, life, redes, Duke University Press, 2008
Main partner of tranzit.ro is ERSTE Foundation. Research for the Station’s concept was possible through a grant received by Raluca Voinea from Foundation for Arts Initiatives.