The Moebius strip is a circular band with a single continuous surface and a single edge, created by twisting a strip of paper and attaching the ends to each other. The paradoxical nature of this band allows continuity in a finite space and changes the perception of the opposition relationship. The Moebius strip has only one side and no beginning or end; these opposite concepts are in progressive interconnection, coexisting without limits.
In 1982, Wanda Mihuleac, a Romanian artist who explores the semantic relations between space and time, memory or living of the world, built a huge Moebius strip that she placed in a natural setting. Moebius Strip (whose photographic documentation is on display at the ArtEncounters Foundation) is a metacommentary on art and an analogy for society that should be a medium of exchange and reversibility, where each of us is finally on the same side.
Some critics believe that public art is a Moebius strip of postmodernity, as it allows a direct dialogue between the artist and the public, at the same time creating a close interdependence between them. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, when several emancipation movements (the civil rights movement, the anti-war movements in the United States, the second wave of feminism and the student revolts in Europe) intersected, public art became essential and the artists’ voices reverberated around the world, leading to the necessary social changes.
Unfortunately, public space was not safe for artistic events everywhere in the world. In Eastern European countries, considered on the periphery of Europe both geographically and artistically, some artists were forced to exhibit their work in their own flats or in churches or to retreat to rural areas to avoid communist censorship. In Romania, Decebal Scriba organised two artistic events entitled housepARTy in his own house, in 1987 and 1988, where the participants, including Călin Dan, Wanda Mihuleac, Dan Mihălțianu and Iosif Kiraly, created works on the spot and filmed a series of banal scenarios that expressed a position of self-marginalisation and withdrawal in private universes.
Seasons End, the exhibition curated by Kasia Redzisz for the ArtEncounters Foundation, captures the 1970 and 1980 decades of Eastern Europe under the communist dictatorship. Ana Lupaș, one of the most important Romanian conceptual artists, retired to the village of Mărgău to escape the repressive structures. Solemn Trial, a monumental work made in three stages, from 1964 to 2008, is a celebration of Romanian traditions and spirit. The artist, together with the villagers of Mărgău and other villages, created huge ritual objects out of straw. However, with the degradation of the material over time, Ana Lupaș decided to make the same objects from metal, to ensure their preservation. That represented a critical commentary on the dramatic changes that occurred following the forced process of modernisation of the Romanian village during the communist period.
Artist Teresa Murak, the promoter of ecofeminist art in Poland, had a direct confrontation with the hostile regime. In 1974, in a small village, she created Sculpture for the Earth, on which she worked for about 30 days. Murak dug a circular pit, using her own height as a measure of its depth, and gathered the extracted earth in a mound of the same size. The two hemispheres, one being the mirror image of the other, were later sown and were to grow fertile, symbolising the forces of the earth and the sky that complement each other. Against the artist’s own will, the work was destroyed a few days later, following orders from the authorities.
In the marginal territories of Eastern Europe, in a time of dissolution of social, economic and political certainties, most artists turned to conceptual art and Land Art in particular, seeking to express themselves in less politicized surroundings. Despite the oppressive system, artistic creativity managed to evade conventions and destabilize personal and even political boundaries, advocating for self-emancipation.