Lombard Freid Projects is pleased to present Land Distribution, Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor’s second solo show at the gallery.
The work of the Romanian collaborative duo is a subtle yet astute reflection on recent global developments, transitions of power, corrupt social and political ideals and the perverse nature of ideology in its numerous manifestations.
Land Distribution explores how a failed 1950s socialist concept of equality and distribution of wealth has been hijacked after the fall of the iron curtain in Central and Eastern Europe by the former apparatchiks. In the artists’ own words: “Now, in the post socialist East, in the recent years we witness again a process of re-distribution in which this time the banks and other private corporations are speculating and taking the land by using loans and credits from the people. Land and land distribution means currency, reform or poverty, depending on geographical, historical or socio-political conditions.”
The main gallery floor is transformed into a grid, partitioned by use of construction rebars and VHS tape into 24 plots. The choice and specificity of materials was inspired by a documentary the artists saw about land re-distribution in present day Venezuela. As Vătămanu and Tudor remark: “The Venezuelan socialist state makes use of a product of our consumerist society in an archaic way in order to produce a new situation in their struggle for their future.”
A red banner inscribed with the text “LONG LIVE AND THRIVE CAPITALISM” hangs on one of the gallery’s walls. The formal outlook of the banner and the slogan inscribed on it are a reminder of old school socialist propaganda. Yet, the banner celebrates Capitalism, another failed utopian ideal.
In the second gallery two recent films by Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor are projected directly onto the wall. Shot initially on 8mm like most of their films, Surplus Value (2009) shows two hands in close-up filing a piece of metal as it is slowly diminishes in the process.
“Surplus Value questions the notion of added value, or the condition of work under Capitalism, yet is similar to a simple task performed by any schoolchild in Communist Romania during manual labor classes.” MV&FT
Poem (2009) presents the making of the red banner by a group of young people gathered in a classroom. The camera moves from the character’s hands shown in the process of sewing the letters on the banner alongside the length of the fabric.
Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor have been working together since 2000. Their artistic practice spans diverse media including film, photography, painting, performance, and site-specific projects. Their work has been included in numerous exhibitions such as: Modern Dialect, M HKA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (2010); Related Spaces, Ernst Museum, Budapest (2010); Dissolving Absolute Structures, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg, Germany (2009); Secession, Graphisches Kabinett, Vienna (2009); Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor, BAK basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, Netherlands (2009); Blind Spots, Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, Vienna (2009); 5th Berlin Biennial, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2008); On fiction and political imagination, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2008); Since we last spoke about monuments, Stroom Den Haag, The Hague (2008); Low-Budget Monuments, 52nd Venice Biennial, Romanian Pavilion, Venice (2007).
The artists and Lombard Freid Projects are grateful for the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York. The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York aims to promote Romanian culture to the public in both the US and internationally and to build sustainable connections and collaborations between American and Romanian cultural organizations.