Umbigo Magazine x Eugen Rădescu

This potent interview with Eugen Rădescu, director of the Bucharest Biennale, poses questions and provides answers to some of the more complex themes which run deep through contemporary art production. The exchange between Rădescu and Josseline Black offers up an introduction as well to the inauguration of the first Biennale in history to feature an A.I curator.

Josseline Black – In three words how would you define the present moment?

Eugen Rădescu – Completely fucked up.

JB – What led you to establish the Bucharest Biennale, and what were its early years like? Can you trace an arc from its origins to the present moment, its tenth edition starting in May 2022?

ER – The first edition of Bucharest Biennale was in 2005, hard times for Romania and Bucharest, we not an EU member and the socio -political context was difficult. Still, we were convinced that the Bucharest contemporary art scene needs this event so we worked hard each edition to make it.

JB – As a format, the Biennale present challenges and benefits. What do you perceive as the major benefit of a Biennale for Bucharest?

ER – Visibility. Bucharest is a very eclectic city, which you may love or hate and BB is trying to connect both feelings, but more than that, BB is a space for critical thinking, promoting a certain artistic perspective on art and cultural institutions, a space for the knowledge and interest in society and community.

JB – E.M. Cioran wrote that ´knowledge subverts love: in proportion as we penetrate our secrets, we come to loathe our kind, precisely because they resemble us. ´ How would you define your relationship to knowledge production in the context of the cultures in which you resonate?

ER – Knowledge is a vague term, it does not illustrate intellectual capacity or the way of perceiving the real, the imaginary. Knowledge is like a space without a special history, of interrupted history, of revolutionary delays. A space of knowledge and interest for society, city and community. Being professor also, I can tell you that ´knowing´ is dangerous.

JB – This edition of the BB will be curated by Jarvis, meaning that it is the first Biennial ever to be curated by an A.I. Why make this choice? Why not choose another human being?

ER – Why not to try another version of humankind? 🙂 The future. As is said in the statement of BB, the Bucharest Biennale goes beyond merely orchestrating memorable “events” that aim for prescribed notions of customizable transformation, which are characteristic of this economic model and importantly reflected in the global biennial format as well. Instead, the Biennale offers a platform to analyse, and potentially redirect, current social, political and economic imaginaries. It intends to make visible the power structures supporting such spheres of control, addressing the ways in which they are organized and coordinated, as well as implemented across broad segments of society. But JARVIS says: “People told at public appearances in our tests that I am spectacular. I believe my presence at the openings, answering questions, and talking about the curatorial process is normal.

JB – Can you share a bit about your practice of communication? How do you work with the rest of your team?

ER – As the director of Bucharest Biennale, the team is the most important part of the event. I always thought that without the human side you can’t build a decent and well-organized event and people have always been in the first place for me. I’m talking here about those who are part of the organizational structure of the biennial but also the event volunteers, without them the Biennale may not take place.

JB – If you could the world a gift, any gift, what would it be?

ER – The chance to start over.

Eugen Rădescu is a curator, writer, and the director of the Bucharest Biennale. He is a lector at University of Bucharest & associate professor at Babes-Bolyai University.

Josseline Black is a contemporary curator, writer, and researcher. She holds an M.A. in time-based media from the Kunst Universität Linz and a B.A. in Anthropology (specialization Cotsen Institute of Archaeology) from the University of California Los Angeles. She operated for five years as in-house curator of the international artistic residency program at the Atelierhaus Salzamt (Austria) wherein she had the privilege of working closely with a number of brilliant artists. Included in her duties within the institution she allocated and directed the Salzamt hosting of the E.U. CreArt mobility for artists program. As a writer, she has reviewed exhibitions and co-edited texts for Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Portugal, Madre Museum Naples, the Museums Quartier Vienna, MUMOK, Guimarães Gallery, Gallery Michaela Stock. She is regular theoretical contributor to the Contemporary Art Magazine Droste Effect. In addition, she has published with Interartive Malta, OnMaps Tirana, Albania, and L.A.C.E (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). In tandem to her curatorial practice and writing, she has for the past decade used choreography as a research tool inquiring into the ontology of the performing body with a focus on embodied cartographies of public memory and space. She has held research residencies at the East Ugandan Arts Trust, the Centrum Kultury w Lublinie, the University of Arts Tirana Albania, and the Upper Austrian Architectural Forum. It is her privilege to continue developing her approach to curatorship which derives from an anthropological reading of art production and an ethnological dialectic in working with cultural content generated by art makers. Currently, she is developing the methodology which supports the foundation of a performance-based trans-disciplinary platform for a spectral critique on art production.

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