Anna Olenicenco – SMEE @ Visual Kontakt Cluj
These universes created by children were meant to fill time, to serve as shelter and make the kids feel part of a world that is comprehensible for them.
In her solo show SMEE, curated by Liviu Bulea, on view through January 22nd, 2017 at Visual Kontakt Gallery Cluj-Napoca (41 Traian Moșoiu St), Berlin-based artist Anna Olenicenco reminds visitors of the happy moments of childhood, as experienced in a pre-digital era, with its rituals and superstitions protecting from the frightening and overwhelming reality of adulthood. While embracing play as refuge, one is freed of social limits, the usual worries and suffering. Even the idea of death is suppressed – an end to childhood is inconceivable when it becomes a permanent state of existence.
Unlike the real world where competition is promoted as key to success in life, the activities depicted in the exhibition are not about being the best, winning or losing, but rather about simply enjoying and sharing the moment with others. The viewer is witness to an authentic, innocent and touching image of cheerfulness that may bring back a dear memory from her/his own past. The sincere laughter of the little girl hula-hooping or the sense of togetherness the image of children gathered to jump rope brings fill the gallery space with powerful emotions that we still carry inside us, as we never cease to be, less or more, children.
If, by the rules of the game, the last man standing to say SMEE (it’s me) is a loser, then I am that loser: when everyone around me accepts reality, I will stand defeated by gerascophobia.
Photos by Radu Răduțu, courtesy of Visual Kontakt Gallery.