You’re beautiful. But you’re also sad, absent, worried, impassive, disobedient, messy, nagging, unresponsive, indifferent to others’ opinions, strange, stubborn, gossipy, disorganized, you’re a bad person, you’re not a good mother, you’re unkempt, forgetful, vicious, you want a Bucharest ID, you’re arrogant, selfish, too fat, you sleep too much, you work too much, you’re a cow, start working out, you stupid woman, you’re a stinker, you’re a slob, you’re a bitch, you cow, you’re ugly. (Suzana Dan)
As a rule, a romantic relationship starts with a simple message: “You’re beautiful.” This is also the title of Suzana Dan’s work displayed at the On Her Side exhibition, an in situ intervention on the wall that provides the access to the Project Centre in Timișoara. Oversized, in block capitals, the seemingly harmless message was stuck on the wall, the artist having subsequently altered the surface of the paper with various materials.
The particularities of the gallery space are integrated into the work. The architectural details, the access breaches and the asymmetrical shape of the wall leave their mark on the message, distorting it. The words are deformed by the cuts made to cut out the outline of the wall. Just as Suzana alters the space, the space alters her work.
The wall is the support that receives the message. However, metaphorically speaking, the wall symbolises the woman who hears the words, distorts them, internalizes them. The words go inside her just as the letters go through the breach, along the depth of the wall. The message “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL” contains many more words, all those words that come later, over time, shouted during a fight or said as a joke, the words we carry inside us, sometimes for the rest of our lives. The work speaks about all the lasting words the artist has heard from the men who have loved her. Through its statement, quoted at the beginning of this article, Suzana Dan’s intervention shoes you everything you become after you are no longer “beautiful”, revealing the precarious balance between the beautiful and the ugly, separated by a fine line. Many times, the transition from one extreme to the other goes unnoticed and is felt only when it is already too late. It symbolises a situation in which many of us women have found ourselves at least once in our lives.