Magazine article Artforum International

Geta Bratescu

Magazine article Artforum International

Geta Bratescu

Article excerpt

Nine square black-and-white photographs mounted in rows of three opened this remarkable survey of the work of Romanian Conceptual artist Geta Bratescu. The emblematic Towards White, 1976--a set of photographs of the artist covering everything in her studio in white paper and fabric--situates the work of this legendary figure of the Bucharest art scene in terms of process and act, identity and space. In this work, Bratescu documents processes that take us from black to white, from motion to stasis. The images show transformations, both of the protagonist in the space--in the final image she has painted herself, her face become a white mask frozen in midrepresentation--and of a body that is dematerialized, vanishing within its own abstraction.

Bratescu's experimental films--several of which were featured in the show as well--were often made with her colleague and friend Ion Grigorescu behind the camera. Besides sharing a critical and subversive political standpoint, the two artists were brought together by their experimental approach to their media, from sculpture and photography to 8-mm film, performances, and Happenings. The Studio, 1978, is a film set in the intimate, self-referential space where reality gives way to art--where it shifts into decisive, aestheticized representation. Bratescu's atelier was a place where avant-garde artists could discover the world by discovering themselves, leaving propaganda and folklore outside. It was a universe of subjectivity, where art was an activity rather than a product. The Studio specifically investigates the relations between body and space: For almost twenty minutes, Bratescu surveys herself and the room she is in, pacing out its dimensions and interacting with the objects in it to put on view the tension between identity, staging, gesture, and form.

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Other works explore the nature of public space. …

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