The Experimental Station for Research on Art and Life, Siliștea Snagovului
May – July 2023
With Iuliana Dumitru and Adelina Ivan
The Experimental Station is slowly growing – with more than 80 species planted in the Cosmos Garden; with Demeter, a bread oven made by poet and gardener V. Leac using found and gifted local bricks; with raised beds of vegetables and medicinal plants; and with an invasion of turnips. Despite unpredictable weather conditions, our frequency to commute between the city and the project site increased, together with a familiarity of the surroundings and closeness with our (non)human neighbors.
The Mapping Session, realized in parallel by each partner in the ABC project in their respective sites, aims to create an exchange of knowledge and skills through site-visits, interviews, photo and video documentation, audio recordings, drawings, or archives tapping. As new inhabitants in the village of Silistea Snagovului and the larger area of Gruiu commune and the Snagov Lake and Forest, the collective mapping is the first iteration as part of a continuing effort to understand the area’s local histories and building practices, natural environment, local knowledges, or cultural scene, and as a way to learn from the locals to forge durable relationships and exchanges.
Iuliana Dumitru will take the role of a binder between the Station and the neighbours located in the vicinity to create a meeting point between the ‘insider’s’ and ‘outsider’s’ cultures, a middle place where we can live together as part of a community. The stories exchanged through the occasional meetings and encounters with the old-time inhabitants of Silistea village will in time weave a manifold understanding of the local dynamics as a way to map the fast-changing social and economic landscape. For Adelina Ivan, the collective mapping helps to explore new visual compositions, through lines and geometries, as frameworks for thinking about the mutual care between humans and plants. As part of the community of artists and, by extension, the community of Siliștea Snagovului, including the plants of this area, she looks at the closeness with the most fragile life forms found in this geographical space in relationship with the domestic-feminine space.
Iuliana Dumitru is a socio-anthropologist working in the field of culture. She is concluding her doctoral research at the Center for Excellence in Image Studies, where she was conducting an interdisciplinary and auto-ethnographic thesis named Narrative and Visual Cartographies of Villages 2 Mai and Vama Veche. She is interested in human communities and symbolic geographies of an area and their representation in art. Currently, Iuliana is part of the collective of the Station and since 2021, she works at the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant as a curator in the Cultural Projects department.
Adelina Ivan works in a variety of media, from video to textile installations and painting, in search of new forms of more fluid relationship between domestic and public space, urban and natural or social space. Her artistic approach has geometry as a symbolic space of resistance against structures of power and dominant environments in relation to personal history and social abstraction. Her practice is developed on the relationship between geometry and space, using the grid structure seen as a critical frame of organizing and investigating memory. In this framework, she is working with forms that are usually associated with stability and order, through a series of folding and unfolding exercises view as tools for self-reflection, analysis of the inner, subjective world, and their expression in outer space.
The Experimental Station for Research on Art and Life is a collective project of a group of cultural workers, who, together with tranzit. ro, co-own and co-manage a plot of land in the village Silistea Snagovului. The Station aims, through an open, participative process of building and contextualization, to become a place for research and/of the living, situated in a post-development narrative and based on ecological and ethical principles.
Architecture, Biodiversity, Culture [ABC]. Building ecological institutions for culture is an European cooperation project situated at the intersection between cultural practices, eco-architecture and ecosystems preservation. Initiated by a consortium of organisations active in the fields of culture, contemporary art, architecture, civic activism and eco-sustainable community practices, the project proposes a participatory process of building and cultural contextualising of ecological prototypes to be used by cultural institutions. ABC operates on four sites in Romania, Bulgaria and France: Silistea Snagovului, a village in the proximity of Bucharest, near a protected area of lake and forest; Brezoi, a small town in the South-Western part of Romania, in a mountaneous area and close to an important river; Dren, a village outside of Sofia, in a hilly area; and Bagneux, in the peripheral neighourhoods of Paris.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.
Photo © Iuliana Dumitru