Interview | INSIGHT. An eye on Bucharest’s art galleries

We’ve had the pleasure talking to the team behind INSIGHT, an upcoming documentary film about contemporary art galleries in Bucharest. Enjoy an exclusive interview for The re:art.

When did you first see a work of art and did you perceive it as such then?

Miluţă: I guess my first encounter with a work of art was in the form of some copies of paintings by Romanian artists on my classroom’s walls when I was in elementary school : ). Of course, they were of no particular value, so I didn’t give them much credit, but I realized that there must be a connection between art and life.

Edina: In my early childhood, my mom used to doodle while on the phone and she was sometimes creating collages using leather or textiles. She still does. I loved discovering her works around the house and somehow they made me feel closer to her. Looking back to that, I am grateful to have been able to connect with art long before I started studying it theoretically.

Simona: I don’t remember very well, but I guess it was when I was five years old, I was/ am addicted to doing puzzles, and one of the puzzle was a reproduction of George Seurat – A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. I was fascinated by how people were captured.

Gabriel Kelemen - Cymatics: when Sound meets Substance / Photo: Miluță Flueraș

CYMATICS: when Sound meets Substance – Gabriel Kelemen, Năsui collection & gallery, Bucharest (more info)

When and why did you become interested in art? Was the passion for art that brought the three of you together?

Miluţă: The interest toward art developed exponentially as I’ve started my first steps in photography, back in 2006, but I have always been fascinated by the visual arts in all of their forms. You could say that, since we’ve met as colleagues at the Center for Excellence in Image Studies Master’s program.

Simona: We come from different areas of study, but we are united by the passion for visual. Somehow, the interest in art came with my interest for architecture, when I decided to apply to architecture school. So, my interest in visual arts drew me to CESI.

Edina: We have different backgrounds yet we found a common ground that enabled us to work, learn and play together in Bucharest. At present, the three of us are studying at the Center of Excellence in Image Studies, in a very open interdisciplinary academic environment.

Insight. An eye on Bucharest's art galleries - making of

The INSIGHT team at Nicodim Gallery

Is art defined by space? We’ve recently seen how a cheap print was mistaken to be an important artwork just because it was placed in a museum (video). Or during the residency of Banksy in New York, original works by the artist were sold for 60$ each (video) just because they were on the street and not in an auction house or what people consider to be an art space. So how do you believe space may influence a work of art being perceived as such by the public?

Miluţă: Definitely, perceiving works as art just because they are positioned in a certain place and presented in a specific manner are conventions which can lead to endless discussions over the key question “What is art?”. Often such classifications are questionable, but we must take notice that art is form and content, and we react to it on pure subjective criteria.

What do you think is/ should be the role of art galleries for both artists and public today?

Miluţă: Opening an exhibition in a well-known gallery can certainly boost the artist’s image, but every display of his work in an art gallery is important. Galleries close the gap between art and public, bringing people down from the virtual world to experience art in a true way.

Simona: In Romania, we think that art galleries have an essential role for the evolution of the artists & public. Nowadays, with all the exposure to social media, art becomes more popular. Even Google tries to educate with the Art Project. And if I remember correctly, all the events were announced on Facebook or online magazines, so the galleries should try harder to promote their events and exhibitions.

Edina: Art galleries should offer an accurate view on the contemporary art scene, be open to artistic variety and encourage young artists with strong views. What today is outrageous and surprising will be an integrant part of tomorrow’s culture and will define society.

FULL CONTACT MATTER - A performance by Szilard GASPAR

FULL CONTACT MATTER – A performance by Szilard Gaspar, at Zorzini Gallery

In recent months, you have visited many exhibitions, especially the openings when you had a direct contact with the public. What did you notice about the public’s reaction? How do people relate to art galleries in Bucharest? Have you noticed a higher interest in art and galleries becoming open to a wider audience nowadays compared to past years?

Miluţă:  We can say that there is a constant dedicated public to the Romanian art scene, since we see familiar faces at almost all the galleries and also new public eager to discover art spaces and artists all together. I don’t really have a measure for the last years but I think there is a steady evolution in the public’s attendance since most of the galleries have a modern approach to art gathering most of the youngsters.

Edina: Many galleries are engaging the visitors by featuring artists that enjoy experimenting with mixed media, installations and interactive designs. The open and versatile approach of the galleries along with the innovative spirit of contemporary artists is enriching the art experience in Bucharest.

Simona: I guess there is an evolution of the artistic field in Bucharest, because the audience is wider, and a lot of young people are attending art and cultural events. There is always a good vibe at the opening of the exhibitions.

Discriminări urbane - Victoria Art Center


A lot of questions bringing us, finally, to your project. In a few words, INSIGHT is a documentary film about contemporary art galleries in Bucharest. Why this specific theme, why a focus on the space, and not an artist/ a group of artists or an art movement, for example? Why Bucharest? And why now? Take us behind the scenes and share a few insights about the project and the team involved in making the film possible.

Miluţă: The idea derived from a project for our Master’s program at the Center for Excellence in Image Studies, and we decided to choose “space” because of the multiple values it may have from an architectural point of view to that of a place of performance.

We have chosen Bucharest and the present to fill a gap which we’ve detected in the local art scene – the need for an overview of the Bucharest Art Galleries, presented in an attractive way to reach a large audience. It was my idea to make a short film because I felt the need to experiment with the production part, this being my first documentary. All the tasks regarding this complex project are managed by our small team: I deal with all the aspects regarding the filming process – planning shots, filming, managing all the shot material, editing stills and video, supporting Simona’s work in the graphic projects (website, identity, printed art map).

Simona creates all the stationary graphics, and a part of the animation for the documentary, also she is a strategic planner and helps me with the whole project management part, and she also does a part of the still photography and filming. Edina is responsible with the PR part, creating all the texts accompanying our work, keeps in contact with media, partners and galleries, and does most part of the still shots. The documentary will be narrated in English by an experienced voice (will keep that secret for now), and we will record at Taine Multimedia Studio at the beginning of May. The soundtrack of the documentary is composed by Phil Grey – a very talented guy.

Simona: Miluţă approached us with the idea, which we liked a lot. Nowadays, I think the space/ gallery plays an important not to mention crucial aspect of the artistic timeline. The selected galleries all participate at international art fairs, promote their artists, so the chosen exhibitions are somehow based on some art curators defined criteria. We are aware of the campaigns which promote Bucharest, but none of them are promoting Bucharest as an art destination. We wanted to find an artistic way to promote both the art galleries and the city. Europe Backpacker indeed mentioned Bucharest as a hip and cool destination in Europe (2nd place). I’d like to think that in a couple of years Bucharest will be the Berlin.

Edina: Bucharest is definitely a European capital that catches the eye with its entanglement of interests, focus points and directions. It is undergoing notable socio-economical changes having an art scene that has been constantly growing in the past few years.

Many young and talented Bucharest based artists are freelancers, exploring and creating on their own terms or in small groups. There are many powerful artistic expressions that represent this magical generation and the fascinating cultural context. Art is all around us, in pubs and clubs, on public buildings, on living room walls, in our pockets and notebooks.

We wondered how young artists get to be promoted in designated art spaces that bring their work closer the society they represent and we started this gallery quest in Bucharest.

LOCAL KOMBAT - Cosmin Paulescu, Galateca

LOCAL KOMBAT – Cosmin Paulescu, Galateca Gallery

What does a usual filming day documenting art galleries look like? Do you randomly pick the shows you visit, plan to see them all or have a special selection? Is there something you found surprising along the way – something you did not know about the art scene until recently, for example? What was the response of gallery owners and curators so far regarding your project?

Miluţă: We plan one week ahead all the filming sessions and we try to cover as many events as possible choosing the appropriate gear, having in mind the configuration of the location. We try to cover all the exhibitions of the galleries included in our project, but sometimes it is impossible to cover all the openings since they overlap. The art itself is surprising if you know how to see it and feel it, so this endeavor is like an amazing journey and we always feel exalted by the fresh approaches to art. We had very good feedback and a warm welcome from the gallery owners, lots of them sharing our thought regarding the need for this documentary.

Edina: Every filming day is an adventure. Opening days always have a special vibe, and there is a lot of enthusiasm and chatter.

but IT Got Too COLD - Marilena Preda Sânc

but IT Got Too COLD – Marilena Preda Sânc, at EASTWARDS PROSPECTUS

What are your expectations regarding the film? When will we get the chance to see the final result?

Miluţă: I hope that people will appreciate this 4 months of work and with their support maybe we will continue this project on other formats, to go on documenting the Bucharest art scene, to include other new galleries and art spaces and maybe extend to other cities. It all depends on the reach and feedback received from the audience. We planned 2 screenings: one in Cluj-Napoca on May 21st, during Photo Romania International Photography Festival. The 2nd screening will be in Bucharest at the end of May and soon to be announced. It’s possible to have more screenings in Bucharest and after that the documentary will be available for free on Vimeo.

SELF SEARCHING - Stanislav Cebanenco, Art Yourself Gallery

SELF SEARCHING – Stanislav Cebanenco, Art Yourself Gallery

Is it just the beginning? Like an episode or a Part I of something bigger or do you plan to simply capture a less explored moment in the dynamic and multifaceted life of the city?

Miluţă: We haven’t reached to a final decision on that, it sure was an effort timewise (since we got to split the time between full day job, master studies, personal projects and this documentary) and moneywise since it is a self-produced project, but also very challenging (in a good way) and fun. If we continue, the format will be a weekly vlog or something like that, much more up-to-date.

Simona: We don’t know, this is our first project together, was a lot of work, fun, and project managing. We learn how to film (Simona and Edina), how to take pictures in the professional way. We worked remotely, except the filming part: so a lot of emails, reminders, due dates, since we had a strict timeline. We kind of extended the initial project, because we decided to have also an offline (printable) map, so the project has suffered some revisions, but we are glad that we did it.

Edina: We started working on the documentary and then decided to support it with a printed map of the galleries. It has a unique layout designed by Simona and has inspired some other ideas for the project. We’ll see what comes next. : )

Any other thoughts? What did we miss?

Miluţă: We want to thank all for their support for this project (almost 2000 on Facebook) and we hope that this documentary will bring more people to the galleries and make them fond of art in any form.

Edina: See you at the screenings and launch parties!

Simona: Follow us on Facebook!

• •

Images © INSIGHT documentary project.

Find out more on Facebook and Vimeo.