At the beginning of October 2021, Kunsthalle Bega premiered the exhibition Chronicles of the Future Superheroes, curated by Anca Verona Mihuleț, a project conceived over the last two years, which analyzes the function of art and its ability to offer possible answers on topics such as the passage of time, aging / perishability, the uncertain future of the planet, the relationship with the paranormal and the oscillation between the local and the global. Kunsthalle Bega awarded the Bega Art Prize in 2019 to Anca Verona Mihuleț, an effort aimed at encouraging curatorial activity by annually awarding a young Romanian curator who activates nationally or internationally. The winning curator is invited to develop and present a project based on personal research. This is how Chronicles of the Future Superheroes materialized, featuring the following artists: Hyunjin Bek (South Korea) / Adriana Chiruta (Romania) / Baptiste Debombourg (France) / Heecheon Kim (South Korea) / Fabio Lattanzi Antinori (UK) / Lawrence Lek ( UK) / Dalibor Martinis (Croatia) / Adina Mocanu (Romania) / Maria Pop Timaru (Romania) / Larisa Sitar (Romania) / Dimitar Solakov (Bulgaria) / Stardust Architects (Romania).
The curatorial project elaborated by Anca Verona Mihuleț’s source of inspiration and starting point was the book Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine, by American inventor Ray Kurzweil, about the attempts of a young woman to solve the big global problems with the help of knowledge and technology. The book thus becomes a guide for mental survival, written from a dual perspective (of a maturing woman and a futuristic thinker), which aims to guide us when facing future scenarios and existential phenomena: from global warming, migration, crisis situations (economic, climatic) to mutations in the psyche and emotional facets of contemporary man. The twelve artists invited to conceive an immaterial, metaphorical dialogue with Danielle, start off from personal experiences and visions related to a possible future, filtered through the concept of playing with and exploring unknown dimensions, closely related to intimate perceptions of reality that focuses on a meeting point between regions such as Southeast Asia and Southeast Europe. The hybrid interventions of the artists in this project become a cocktail that includes performance, architecture, choreography, visuals and engineering, describing a concept of meta-collectivity and imagining possible identity projections of superheroes.
On the opening day of the exhibition, two performative actions took place: Being Nina, an immersive performance in which Adina Mocanu puts into practice some of the well-known experiments of Nina Kulagina, a woman with transcendental, psychokinetic abilities, who lived in the mid 1900s in the USSR during the Cold War. Being Nina also includes a film produced by Adina Mocanu, structured into 13 chapters, which follows the character’s transition from a simple housewife to a superheroine – presented on several channels in a site-specific installation with objects designated as “miraculous”. The second performance was a duration one, signed by Hyunjin Bek and entitled K-Meat Restaurant’s Restaurateur, in which the artist analyzes the process of preparing his latest roles for television, by changing his identity and meditating. For Chronicles of the Future Superheroes, Bek created a Korean restaurant that serves pork grill, a classic meeting place for locals, but also for tourists visiting Seoul. The music that accompanies the installation was composed by the artist, who performed the role of the restaurant’s owner in the first days of the exhibition. K-Meat Restaurant’s Restaurateur thus becomes a reflection on constraint and freedom, on the limits and possibilities of an identity space.
Maria Pop Timaru’s work is entitled In God We Trust / Who will save us from ourselves? / SOS / Looking for a hero / Where are You? and takes the shape of a sculptural installation – a superpower in the form of an insect that communicates through light and telepathic signals – belonging to a higher civilization from another dimension, that can prevent the collapse of the planet’s balance. Dimitar Solakov presents two works: Let Humanity Tip Over. I Need Fewer Priorities and Permafrost and Icecaps. The animation designed specifically for this exhibition refers to the increasing levels of greed and superficiality in contemporary man, calling for the restoration of a primordial balance. Permafrost and Icecaps are two neon pieces that refer to the dangers of global warming, complementing the VR animation.
The Stardust Architects collective (Anca Cioarec and Brîndușa Tudor) put forward Metakitchen, an installation which opens a dialogue about architecture, gastronomy, carpentry, textile arts, vegetable fibers, ceramics, gastronomy, having as common denominator the social relations they regenerate. Metakitchen thus focuses on five transformative practices aimed at recovering social and spatial practices that can be models of sustainability, as well as reclaiming crafts.
Baptiste Debombourg’s contextual installation, Untitled, becomes an impressive case study into the aesthetics of an accident. The inspiration for his research comes from Marcel Duchamp’s Large “Broken” Glass, which the artist thought of as the core of ready-made art, in terms of artistic exploration. The work was designed for the exhibition Chronicles of The Future Superheroes, and was inspired by the configuration of a radar used to detect flying objects, made out of wood and broken windshields originating from Timișoara, thus making a connection with the local history of accidents. Untitled is, thus, an ode to failure, perishability and human fragility.
This is Adriana Chiruta’s first time exhibiting in Romania and presenting her work, entitled Techniques to get out of the needle for those who believe they are butterflies. The installation includes 11 fragments of text, video and sound and is built around the idea that people can be saved through art, its artistic approach proposing a possible “cure” to reduce suffering. In a society dominated by violence and cruelty, through her work the artists attempts a social and interactive exercise in respect and care for our own fragile condition, thus inviting viewers to be art subjects and become part of the work with the movements of their own bodies.
Larisa Sitar presents Study (II) for Aeternum, a bas-relief work with a multitude of references extracted from distinct historical and cultural periods: archaic, ancient classicism, but also Christian era aesthetics, art style deco or influences from socialist realism. The work depicts man’s desire to attain immortality and to get as close as possible to the deities represented in the historical bas-reliefs. Study (II) for Aeternum illustrates fluid, faded bodies, which merge with the drapes and almost dissolve in the texture of the wall, insinuating a future marked by absence.
Lawrence Lek presents a feature film with a narrative structure, AIDOL, comprising a soundtrack composed and orchestrated by the artist and superimposed over the story of a declining superstar, DIVA. Placed in a fantastic scenery of smoke and mirrors, in a world of drones and snowy tropical vegetation, AIDOL describes a complex battle between humanity and Artificial Intelligence, between man and machine, against the background of a futuristic narrative, The meeting place of character DIVA and AI artist Geomancer, created by Lek for his latest trilogy.
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori’s immersive sculpture Dataflags, in the form of a screen-print on Somerset paper, depicts the rise and fall of the Lehman Brothers investment bank. Every time the flag is touched by the public, a set of numbers representing the quota for Lehman Brothers is audibly announced, through the voice of a soprano. Dataflags is part of a larger series of works that explore the concept of failure, describing the decline of a major company to bankruptcy in a contemporary visual way.
Heecheon Kim exhibits the video Deep in The Forking Tanks, in which the artist enters a “sensory deprivation” tank to experience a simulated dive. In his work, the tank becomes a frame that blurs and, at the same time, accentuates the boundaries between real and unreal perceptions, using a digital technology (GPS, VR, face swaps) that becomes a means of sedimentation for virtual, unreal layers in a real context. His artistic practice makes use of these digital applications that shape a futuristic world and thus become an incentive for different perceptions of reality, a possible landmark for diverting the projections of possible future worlds.
Dalibor Martinis presents several video installations, entitled (I’VE GOT) NO TIME TO LOSE, From New York to New York, Question no.15: The Ball / AACG CTAA CTCG…? and QUESTION NO. 11: IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI?. Much of Dalibor Martinis’ art questions the concept of time/temporality, which, from a predictable collective perspective, would flow from the past to the future, passing through the present. In works like Open Reel and, later, Data Recovery and Transtemporal Room, the artist uses media to turn back time. Martinis creates a type of conceptual art in which he subtly explores the notions of infinity, spatiality, size, universe, the relationship between presence and absence, the relationships and nuances between the DNA code, belonging and identity.
Chronicles of the Future Superheroes is a spectacular and coherent new media/installation based project that manages to articulate, in a balanced and refined manner, the ample space of Kunsthalle Bega. Anca Verona Mihuleț, as a curatorial hallmark, brings together a selection of artists with versatile approaches and coagulates pertinent visual dialogues between their works within the exhibition space. The project thus becomes a kind of survival kit in a symbolic sense, an exciting visual cocktail that addresses relevant contemporary topics and themes, aimed at the crisis situation of contemporary man, always looking for new solutions, even at a mental level, in order to survive. The artists’ interventions are only the starting point for imagining and shaping various visions and versions of what a contemporary and, also, a futuristic superhero might look like. The project oscillates between the notions of survival and living, presenting, in a broader sense, a generous variety of artistic perspectives that push the viewer towards interrogation and self-reflection, traversing a complex exhibition route through dynamism and interactivity.
The art exhibition Chronicles of the Future Superheroes, curated by Anca Verona Mihuleț, took place between 02.10.2021 – 20.03.2022 at Kunsthalle Bega in Timișoara.
Ada is a Graduate of University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca and has a PhD in Visual Arts (2019), conceiving a research thesis entitled "The Human Body as Image and Instrument in Contemporary Art....