XENIA TINCA: How would you explain to the public what being a curator means?
DIANA MARINCU: I think the best explanation starts from the history of this profession and the need of having a different kind of “mediator” between the artist and the public. The curator no longer “translates” the artist’s message, but creates a context, enriches it and offers it as a space of absolute trust in which things can be built up. Maybe if we look at things from a historical perspective, the courage behind this choice will become clearer and we will see that the alliance between the artist and the curator is stronger when they try to transgress the institutional borders, go against a pre-established order and react to society’s most pressing issues. The curators’ most important mission is to absorb and distil a state or a tension that they can propagate at a visible level that can trigger questions and fundamental changes inside and outside art. The art exhibition is one of the possible tools, but not the only one. I think a curator’s actions can embrace many forms, but they must be all anchored in visuality and visionarism.
XT: Curating exhibitions is a relatively new profession in Romania. What aspects have guided you in choosing this line of work?
DM: I did not know exactly what I wanted to do until I met several professional models that marked me indelibly. This is why I believe very strongly in people’s power to inspire others and add to what they learn from books, courses and other sources of information. If I had not met the right people at the right time, I might not have become a curator and I would not have fully dedicated myself to this profession. As luck would have it, I had Adrian Guță, Ruxandra Demetrescu and Anca Oroveanu as Art History professors in Bucharest; then I benefited from the professional and personal generosity of curators Liviana Dan and Anca Mihuleț and my colleagues at Fabrica de Pensule in Cluj and at Plan B. They all played a decisive role in my choice. Being grateful to them makes me realise how important mutual support is, especially today.
XT: How has your relationship with art changed since you turned from independent curator to artistic director of Art Encounters?
DM: It is not my relationship with art that has changed, but that with the art institutions and the artistic ecosystem. At first, I could not make a diverse interpretation of all the stimuli that the familiarity with a certain context provided and I did not pay as much attention to harmonising curatorial ideas with a context for their manifestation as I do now. Therefore, in my current capacity I can say that I have learnt to follow my curatorial development simultaneously with a number of equally important aspects – institutional cooperation, the needs of the artistic stage, the loyalty to the team I work with and the guidance of the public on accessing the ideas I bring forward.
XT: Can you speak about one of your more ambitious projects?
DM: One of my most ambitious projects was the Art Encounters Biennial 2017, which I curated with Ami Barak, a curator of invaluable professional experience. I was also lucky to work with an incredible team. That edition of the Biennial was structured according to a narrative development inspired by Georges Perec’s novel Life – A User’s Manual. Each exhibition space represented a theme chapter and a nucleus of artists from Romania, the region and the international art stage. The Biennial’s productions were numerous and generated ambitions to support Romanian art, while the complementary platform consisted of the independent spaces in Romania, in an attempt to draw the public’s attention to their capacity to compensate for the lack of great and solid art institutions.
XT: Given the pandemic restrictions, what challenges did you face when you conceived and organised the latest Art Encounters events? How has the current social situation affected the organisation and adaptation of such events?
DM: I have tried, together with the Art Encounters team, to maintain contact with the artists and the public. The programmes developed during the pandemic have proved very necessary even on a longer term. Such were the mentoring programmes we have initiated. They were led by Romanian artists and focused on young artists and students who needed to make contact with their more experienced colleagues and discover various methods of researching, creating and relating to the artistic practice. In general, we have tried not to cancel anything, but instead to adapt or postpone our plans. Nevertheless, the adaptability and flexibility exercise has proved very useful in helping us get our feet back on the ground. It has shown us that the most important things come from the networks you create, your relationships and the long-term dialogues with the others.
XT: What would you advise anybody who wants to make contact with Romania’s artistic world?
DM: I believe the most important piece of advice would be to view art carefully and never forget that art will provide all the answers they are looking for.