Lucinda Bredin: Romania pavilion re-enacts works from previous Biennali

All right, we know that Romania has a hard time with the budget. What they have done instead is to import labour. The two artists, Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmuş, who have separate practices, have combined to present two teams of five people—we don’t know if the cast are artists themselves—to “enact” a painting or work that has been exhibited at the Biennale in previous years. At first it is disconcerting. You walk in and see a group of casually dressed people holding a pose. Is this a yoga convention?

Crowds gather to witness a bizarre performance

Then they relax and one of their number announces the next piece, say, “Enactment of Wally Neuzil in Black Stockings, by Egon Schiele, in the Austrian Pavilion at 24th Biennale di Venezia, 1948.” A woman then lays against the wall with her legs akimbo. Blimey! This was followed by an enactment of Track and Field, 2011, by Allora and Calzadilla, with four of the five pretending to be tank treads. This was more like it. Some of the crowd then played guess the work and bellowed out their thoughts in a fabulously irreverent way. But hey, that goes with the piece. Pirici and Pelmuş are underlining that Romania is a small country and that it, too, should be able to reclaim these great works, even if it doesn’t produce them in the first place.

The team will be “presenting works” all day everyday until October. It’s impressive in a weird way, and worth dropping in to see for a few moments. But once you’ve got the point, it won’t engage you for more than ten minutes. It’s the performers I feel sorry for.

Lucinda Bredin is the editor of Bonhams magazine

Published Thu, 30 May 2013 16:11:00 GMT

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