Contemporary Art Romania

20 October 2009

100 to watch

"The creative scene in Romania is one of the most vibrant and exciting in Europe. This directory was put together to illustrate what makes it so special. A listing of 100 of the most talented artists in Romania today, from conceptual art to contemporary dance, literature and theatre to music and fashion, it’s a snapshot of an entire generation – the Romanian New Wave.

When we started the “100 to Watch” project, we thought the biggest problem would be finding 100 people. I mean, justhow big can the scene in Romania be? We were even preparedto change the title – at one point we imagined that we’d haveto settle for something decidedly less impressive, along thelines of “43 to Watch”. However, in the end, our problemturned out to be exactly the opposite. Having convenedour jury, we were shocked to discover that our longlistnumbered more than 200 people. These weren’t people thathad been reluctantly suggested to bulk up the numbers, but hugely talented artists who demand wider recognition.

Cutting down the longlist was a thankless task. Every member of the jury has dozens of names they desperatelywanted to see in the book, but who we simply couldn’t fit in.There were endless discussions and disagreements, and wedrew up our selection criteria again and again and again.

So what are the selection criteria? When we started out on this project, we came up with a lot of contradictory answers. Wewanted to find people who had a degree of success abroad, butalso people who’d fallen under the radar at home. We wantedto respect the scene’s veterans, while supporting the kidssnapping at their heels. Acknowledging artistic risk-takingwas a big priority, while not shunning commercial success.

We felt people still living and working in Romania should be prioritized, while not neglecting those who’ve managedto ‘go international’. Our one strict rule was that the artistsshould be under 40, but even this was disregarded on anumber of occasions, due to special pleading from our jury.

In truth, no set of criteria could possibly capture what we were trying to do. How can you compare success in, say,film-making to a niche field like contemporary dance? Howcan you weigh up one artist’s potential against another’salready impressive CV? You can’t. In the end, whethersomeone got in or not came down to a single solitaryquestion – is the artist in question worth watching?

The answer, for all the names compiled here, is are sounding ‘yes’. Every single artist between thesepages is part of the reason why Romania is such anexciting place to be right now. It’s indicative of just howmuch talent there is in the Romanian New Wave.

And so, though this is in no way a definitive list, it’s our list. Hotly argued over and messy, idiosyncratic andpacked with surprises, it’s a real snapshot of the mostexciting generation ever to come out of the country. Formultimedia content, extras and updates, check out ourwebsite. Finally, we must mention the generous fundingreceived by the Romanian Cultural Institute’s Cantemirprogramme, which made this project possible."

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