Opening day is followed by a guided tour by curator Iris Ordian, and a meeting with artist Ioana Sesia, at a creative workshop, on Saturday 3rd September. The project is co-financed by Timisoara City Hall through the Project Center of the Municipality of Timisoara under the priority program “Milestones in Culture”.
“My grandparents had a house, three beds, four tables, fourteen chairs, twenty-seven glasses, forty-four plates, three televisions, and five rugs… My grandparents lived in one of the four rooms of the house; the other three have been preserved as a spectacle we cannot touch. We have They were the good rooms that only important people who came to visit, such as priests or distant relatives, could access.” This is part of how Ioana Sesia remembers her grandparents’ home. We do not find traces of nostalgia, but we can talk about the responsibility of memory that paves the way for an understanding of the poetics of a deeply known space over a long period of time, both from the perspective of matter and from the perspective of form. . With the death of her grandparents, Iwana’s relationship with the home she was raised in changed. The house itself became a spatial building filled with layers of memory; The house was stripped of daily activities and immediate stress, and the house was categorized into a clearly defined personal geography. The absolute democratization of space was necessary to be able to preserve the memory of the place.
Grandparents’ house hanging by a thread
The exhibition’s title, Harvest Time, is a direct reference to the way in the fall, in the Mediterranean regions or in some areas of southeastern Europe, vegetables and fruits are often dried on twine and then hung from ceiling beams or the walls of houses. For Iwana, this association has a special significance, being a reference to the agricultural activities around her ancestral home, but also a homage to the processes that involve physical labour, in both art and everyday life. The installation speaks of the intimacy of living memory examined under a magnifying glass. Through the metaphor of the harvest, access to the artist’s world is facilitated, based on the subjective experience of the past. Socio-political memory gives way to the synthesis of a reflexive memory that encodes art both cognitively and emotionally, giving way to an abstract archive, the place of beginning and testament.
There are many ways in which we can document private space – we can refer to the cosmological formula proposed by Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics of Space; or the contrast between pollution and disinfection by Mary Douglas since the 1960s; or the key to the structural interpretation given by Pierre Bourdieu in the study of the tribal houses of Algeria, on the basis of dichotomous divisions: woman – man, inside – outside, birth – death; or more recently to Griselda Bullock or Jane Rendell’s theories of modernity and the sex of space.
Ioana removed the limits imposed by walls and began meticulously recording and cataloging all the things that were in her grandparents’ home when the next generation inherited them, room by room, thing by thing, item by item. This activity transforms the artist into a contemplative archivist, working with a reflexive memory, from the inside, but also from the outside, like an agent. The disappearance of users led to the stripping of that property.
Traditional documentation followed performing procedures aimed at directing the decoration of all things in the house – glass and metal were melted and reshaped into spherical shapes, wood was perforated into round elements, textiles were hand-cut into circles. Memory acts simultaneously as a deconstructive and restorative performance factor – two phenomena that operate at the same time, similar to the principle of reactive action. In other words, in addition to the enormous emotional labor that the artist put into creating the work for about five years, a more practical work is put into place than literal deconstruction: smelting, cutting, drilling and adapting the style of work to the needs of each material. Piece by piece dismantling the former familial habitat and social habitat, as described by Pierre Bourdieu and Xander Navarro, transforming objects that formally contributed to the experience of everyday life, often a part of in childhood: of chairs, beds, rugs, appliances, bills, mugs, and glasses. There are everyday items next to Sunday clothes or fine cutlery.
Deconstruction closely follows a restorative approach: turning the contents of the grandmother’s house into beads is part of the spatial progression and reproduction of meanings; The beads, typical of female representations, became a symbol of home understanding. In this way, Ioana Sesia defined her childhood home with an eminently feminine and mobile universe.
Back off and do, in a few photos
In the course of the project’s premiere in the Kunsthalle Bega Box space, strings of beads are placed next to each other to create permeable walls depicting the trace of a grandmother’s house. Each bead wall is specific to a room, made from the dividing things that were once part of that room. Very few objects have survived the transformation process, and testimonies of a past fate lay the foundations for the facility’s past and present history.
The film showing the collection of objects and the decomposition of the furniture, along with two photographs from the artist’s childhood, are the only supporting elements that allow the audience to imagine the development of that place, as if the viewer were looking through a keyhole and quickly caught it. Pictures of reality they are now forever changed.
Ioana Sisea bridges the different media of artistic expression – ceramics, painting, installation, sculpture or video – after constantly changing the situation between sign and speech, by complicating the audience’s relationship with the object of the gaze. By combining workshop work with a meticulous conceptualization process, Ioana Sisea focuses on creating a complex series of works whose production typically spans several years.
In 2022, he graduated from the master’s program at the Royal College of Art in London and defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca. His projects have been shown in solo or group exhibitions at: Cluj-Napoca Museum of Art; Royal College of Art, London; Rosenfeld Gallery, London; MAGMA Contemporary Art Gallery Space, Sf. Georghe; Gallery Zina, Cluj-Napoca or Gallery Diehl, Berlin.
Image credit: Soren Floria