PRIVATE LIFE AND SOCIAL PRACTICES DURING THE GOLDEN AGE

Producer: PostModernism Museum

Location: The Bucharest Municipality Museum – Nicolae Minovici Museum, No. 1 Dr Minovici Nicolae Street

Curator: Cosmin Nasui

Historic researcher: Crisitian Vasile

Project manager: Oana Nasui

Program: August 1st-31st 2018, Wednesday-Sunday 10.00 – 18.00

Notice: Not recommended for people under 18.

The exhibited works of art are part of the George Șerban and Nasui collections and the archive pieces are part of the Nasui collection.

Cultural project co-financed by the National Cultural Fund Administration.

Partners: Șerban and Associates Law Firm, Bucharest Municipality Museum – Nicolae Minovici Museum, Amateur Filmmaker Museum.

No exhibition-opening event; homage-paying party: August 23rd 2018, 16.00.

Curated guided tours available; first tour on August 8th, starting at 12.30.

FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/263327191119886/

Research Project and Exhibition

The ressearch and exhibition dedicated to the representation of eroticism and sexuality in the visual arts during the Golden Age of communism, marked by Nicolae Ceaușescu’s policies, explores the rich visual dialog between elements such as power, pro-birthrate policy, family, taboos, permissiveness, censorship, unlawfulness, intimate pleasures and freedom. The research follows the artistic context of some social phenomenon types and of public policies, such as the demographic policies of pro-birthrate and fertility.

“Private Life and Social Practices during The Golden Age” depicts a series of types of eroticism and private life in Romania. During Ceaușescu’s time major changes took place in Romania: the monogamous family type, unwanted children and orphanages, the fight against prostitution, the boom of curettage practices, redrawing attention on women’s rights and social equality, the demographic boom of the “children of the decree”.

Hence, terms such as eroticism and sexuality continue to be associated with difficult parts of private and social life.

This project boldly approaches an important and sensitive segment of the recent Romanian history – the communist time of Nicolae Ceaușescu – launching a curatorial research that follows social practices and manifestations of cultural life, with emphasis on the urban environment at a national level.

The project subscribes to the new definitions of intangible cultural heritage given by UNESCO, that being that it does not only represent inherited traditions from the past but also social, contemporary or recent history practices, from various cultural groups of the urban and rural environments (https://ich.unesco.org ).

The project is also covered by the law of cultural and intangible heritage, no. 26/2008, through its extensive and multidisciplinary research in history of art, visual culture, sociology, anthropology, forensic medicine, which allows it to offer methods of highlighting the cultural expressions of socio-cultural ways of life in urban and rural communities in the 1964-1989 Romania.

The projects strategic points

–          understanding the complex social problems generated by pro-birthrate policies together with their depiction in visual culture

The project follows parallels between types of iconic imagery crated by specific magazines such as Femeia (The Woman), Săteanca (The Countrywoman) etc. and artworks of that time, in typologies such as the hard-working woman, the countryside woamn, the soldier woman, the mother, the female activist etc. The existence of an anemic sexuality and private life was controlled and specifically determined through pro-brithrate policies. Still, within the same context, women were masculinized as differences among sexes were levelled and the feminine and masculine sex-appeals were changed (appearances were restricted down to forbiding the mini-skirt for women and long hair or beards for men).

A specific trait, unique among communist states, is the reference to the ruling couple, Elena and Nicolae Ceaușescu, as models of the alpha male and woman (the dictator’s wife doesn’t have a dedicated iconography in other communist states).

–          a study on the permitted and unpermitted ways of representing eroticism and sexuality

During the Golden Age, artists approached the permitted areas of eroticism, connecting them with either the classical Roman-Greek mythology or with the boundaries of family reproduction.

The representation of eroticism based on mythological themes or on classical characters and themes, is largely met in genre paintings of artists such as: Aurel Bulacu (born 1947), Harry Guttman (1933-2015), Peter Pusztai (born 1947), Mircia Dumitrescu (born 1941), Ion Panaitescu (1936-2013), Nicolae Săftoiu (1935-2017), Dan Erceanu (born 1943), Marcel Chirnoagă (1930-2008), Vasile Socoliuc (1937-2008), Octav Grigorescu (1933-1987), Mihai Rusu (1925-2013), Petru Russu (born 1955), Tiberiu Nicorescu (1927-1995), Florin Mitroi (1938-2002), Sofia Frankl (born 1948), Hildegard Kelepper Paar (born 1937), Henry Mavrodin (born 1937), Marcel Guguianu (1922-2012), Marcel Olinescu (1896-1992), Vladimir Șetran (born 1935), Mihu Vulcănescu (1937-1994), Done Stan (born 1937), George Pătru (born 1946), Dan Stanciu (born 1952), George Apostu (1934-1986), Nicăpetre (1936-2008), Cristian Breazu (born 1943) și Napoleon Tiron (born 1935).

The representation of unpermitted areas of eroticism and sexuality will be addressed in a few case studies such as the lawsuit against artist Ion Panaitescu accused of pornography, for trying to exhibit the drawings from his 1982 “13 woodcuts” portfolio; the artist Adrian Newell Păun, who took refuge in the USA in 1980, for his sexual orientation etc.

 

–          The innovating curatorial concept

The exhibition and research project “Private Life and Social Practices during The Golden Age” is presented as a dynamic vision, encompassing the latest studies (“The Pro-birthrate Policies of the Ceașescu regime. Vol. 1: A Comparative Perspective” by Corina Doboș (coord.), Luciana M. Jinga and Florin S. Soare, Polirom, 2010; “Gender and Representation in Communist Romania in 1944-1989” by Luciana M. Jinga, Polirom, 2015; “Marxism and Aesthetics” by Ștefan Morawski, Meridiane, 1977; “Final Report”, editors: Vl. Tismăneanu, Dorin Dobrincu, Crisitian Vasile, the Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania, Humanitas, 2007) and consisting of artworks, magazines of the time, art catalogues, memorabilia, video projections, audio recordings, sociology research. The project will also include a component of “continuous research”, by collecting and centralizing feedback from visitors in the form of recent-history accounts (comments, testimonies) that will be used in future presentations.

The project is accompanied by the book “Eroticism and Sexuality in the Golden Age”, soon to be published at the PostModernism Museum Publishing House, 2018.

 

The exhibition at Nicolae Minovici Museum is made out of four spaces:

a)      A curation of the magazine archives of Femeia (The Woman), Săteanca (The Countrywoman), Cutezătorii (The Bold), Șoimii Patriei (Falcons of the Motherland), Luminița (The Little Light), Tineretul lumii (The World’s Youth), Sănătatea (Health), România Pitorească (Picturesque Romania), Îndrumătorul Cultural (The Cultural Guide), Tînărul Leninist (The Young Leninist), Albina (The Bee), Flacăra (The Flame), Educație pionierească (Pioneers’ Education), Munca de partid (Party Labour) – from the Nasui collection. The visitors will have the opportunity to browse the magazines in a specially curated exhibition display.

A curation of publications of a literature genre meant to popularize the scientific-medical aspects of sexuality in order to educate the masses – these magazines define the couple relationship in the exclusive boundaries of marriage, and the family, as the basic cell of society, as having the purpose to procreate and determine population growth. The scientific-medical magazines, distributed in bookshops and libraries in large numbers, manage to debunk sexuality through “education for love”. The visitors will have the opportunity to browse the magazines in a specially curated exhibition display. To exemplify, we mention some of the titles: Victor Săhleanu, “Man and Sexuality”, Editura Științifică, 1967; Adriana Deculescu, “Life and Love”, Editura Medicală, 1969; “Sexual Education (for parents)” – P. Penciu și V. Pavlid, Ed. Didactică și pedagogică 1970; Dan Abulius – “The Book of Newlyweds”, Editura Medicală, 1971; “The Young Family”, Editura Politică, 1974; I. Vinți, C. Pascu, “Adolscence and Sexuality”, Editura Medicală, 1983; Ioan Vinti, “The Prophylactic Content of Prenuptial Consultation”, Editura Medicală, 1984 etc.

b)      A selection of artworks based on relevant themes and subjects belonging to artists such as: Aurel Bulacu, Harry Guttman, Peter Pusztai, Mircia Dumitrescu, Ion Panaitescu, Nicolae Săftoiu, Dan Erceanu, Marcel Chirnoagă, Vasile Socoliuc, Tiberiu Nicorescu, Florin Mitroi, Sofia Frankl, Hildegard Kelepper Paar, Henry Mavrodin, Marcel Guguianu, Marcel Olinescu, Vladimir Șetran, Mihu Vulcănescu, Done Stan, George Apostu, Nicăpetre, Cristian Breazu, Napoleon Tiron etc. The artworks are part of the George Șerban and Nasui collections.

c)       The curated selection of themed lantern-slides produced by Animafilm Film Studio and the Ministry of Education: “Topics of moral and civic education” Animafilm, 1983, 70 lantern-slides; “Family, Kindergarten and School”, 36 lantern-slides; “Why did Irina and Andrei get sick”, Animafilm, 1979, 30 lantern-slides; “Man’s activity in family and society”, 36 lantern-slides; “Motherland, People, One Will”, 1987, 36 lantern-slides; “Demands of the intensive industry development in the five-year plan of 1986-1990, 1985”, 36 lantern-slides; „The youth, the future of our nation”, 1987, 36 lantern-slides. The lantern-slides albums are projected during the exhibition using an automated Kodak Carousel.

d)      A curated selection of documentaries belonging to the amateur film-clubs from the Amateur Filmmaker Museum archive in Reșița. The films displayed are part of the public domain, copyright free and will be projected in loop using a video screen.

 

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The project is part of RADR (DARE), a five years program of Research, Archiving, Display and Revaluation of Art created in Romania during 1945-1990, initiated by PostModernism Museum in 2015. The project’s research is used as resource for students – we are part of a long-term collaboration with the University of Arts in Bucharest (we organize themed seminars, donate books to the library etc.) and PostModernism Museum has also taken on interns from the Centre of Excellence in Image Study at the Faculty of Letters.

Also, the research is available for the solicitant’s stable partners to use for their own projects, such as the The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER), the Memory Network (sessions of talks, biannual meetings), Brașov County Museum of History and those interested in the subject and field.

 

The project does not necessarily represent the views of the National Cultural Fund Administration. NCFA is not responsible for the content of the project or the way in which the project’s results may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the entity benefiting from finance.

 

 

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