Vlad Nancă @ ALERT studio (White Code) | NAG #9
The brilliant personal exhibition of Vlad Nancă, part of NAG #9, curated by Cătălin Burcea and entitled “From white square to white cube. Art history according to…/ The miseducation of…”, citing the names of architecture and art history personalities that have influenced and inspired the artist – Marcel Duchamp, Kazimir Malevich, Paul Klee, Piet Mondriaan, Ad Reinhardt, Andy Warhol, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Superstudio, Enzo Mari, Hans Haake, Hans Hollein, Jean-Pierre Raynaud, Daniel Spoerri, Teodor Graur – is hosted by ALERT studio through April 30th (2-4 Mircea Vulcănescu Street, Bucharest).
The exhibition takes us back in time, from the moment when white tiles became a standard in kitchen design, to their inclusion in every kitchen of Socialist apartment blocks of Romania in the 70s and in the following years as well.
“When cholera was mapped in Victorian Britain, they soon realized that the areas with no sewage and lack of hygiene in the bathrooms and kitchens were the most affected ones. Measures were taken to fix this and from there on the ceramic tiles tend to lose their decorative purposes and gain practical ones by becoming standard in every household’s kitchen. In the 20th century, with the great help of Le Corbusier and functionalism, all of our kitchens have been equipped with grids of white tiles, looking more and more like hospital operating rooms than anything else. Nowhere has this been more visible than in the kitchens of Socialist apartment blocks of Romania in the 70s, where the 15×15 cm white tiles were omnipresent. In the same decade, a few thousand kilometers more to the west, in Italy, the radical architecture group Superstudio were proposing (a not so different) socialist utopia, with their flat, egalitarian Continuous Monument.”
“Borne along by a fashionable Marxist undercurrent, Superstudio developed an extreme aesthetic that looked like modernism run wild and yet purported to offer an egalitarian utopia freed from the cycle of consumption. Superstudio’s Continuous Monument, developed in a series of collages and storyboards in 1969, is a vision of total urbanisation. There is nature and then there is the city, a single giant structure stretching across the landscape. The city’s form is determined by a geometric accumulation of white cubes – and if cities can be achieved simply by multiplying these basic components then there is no need any more for architects.” Justin McGuirk, icon 001 (April 2003)
As in the case of refrigerators, people found a way to escape the exhausting and flat whiteness of the tiles, by adding certain elements to interrupt the infinite white. There were no creative exits, but the small branded labels from products such as Dole bananas and flower pots would be used to somehow hide the tiles, as a way to forget their annoying existence.
Photos: The re:art / Info: ALERT studio