The (guide) line, the (personal) trait and the point (of view)
The works that make up this exhibition are part of recent series, drawings and paintings, but also direct interventions in the exhibition space, through which Liliana Mercioiu Popa approaches the aesthetics of ornament as a naturalistic aesthetic - based on biological mechanisms sensitive especially to the formal configurations of perception of the environment. Her works have a strong obsessive and hypnotic coefficient due to or in spite of the rigor and discipline they induce. The artist proposes a new perspective - putting into dialogue two apparently rival ways of understanding and then transcribing reality, that of modern mathematics, through the concept of cellular automata, i.e. a regular grid of "cells", each containing a "state" chosen from a finite set and which can evolve over time, in principle oriented towards the future, and that of traditional fabrics, closely linked to the context of her family and considered more archaic. The meeting points between them represents for her, society's need to assume the reconciliation of technology with nature and the desire for a more flexible perspective on the world in order to incite possible transformations. Thus, Liliana Mercioiu Popa offers us, through the conjunctions between the two languages (cellular automata and the ornamental language of traditional fabrics), a more direct approach to the vibration, rhythmicity and cyclicity of nature, the interdependent relationships with the environment and of the perpetual self-generative play of life (of cells) that encompasses all of us. The fact that certain practices, such as weaving and folk ornamentation, do not exclude mathematical and rational thinking, while allowing for a symbiotic conception of man and nature, indicates that reason must not become an obstacle in choosing those evidences of perception of things that put us in direct, primary and organic continuity with nature. (Ami Barak)
The exhibition is hosted by ISHO, carried out by the T-act Association with the cultural partnership of the Art Encounters Foundation and the support of the Faculty of Arts and Design from Timișoara and Civitronic SRL.
The project is part of the national cultural program "Timișoara - European Cultural Capital in 2023" and is financed by the Opening+ program, run by Timișoara Center for Projects, with amounts allocated from the state budget, through the budget of the Ministry of Culture of Romania.
From where to where does my person extend, where do the others start?
This artwork reconfigures the multiplication, expansion or interweaving of spaces (one's own living space with those of others), by actually connecting to screens / interception platforms during the pandemic.
They seemed to absorb real space, giving me the feeling of new spaces (inter-spaces, alter-spaces, cyber-spaces, non-spaces, etc.) that open at the same time as multiplication, trans-location, dissipation and / or or reconfiguring the self through these body extensions / prostheses (phones, computers) that substitute the distance.
The permanent negotiation of the physical space and the management of the virtual one with the need and fear of loneliness lived simultaneously, exacerbated by the forced coexistence with you and others (brought too close or found at a distance through screens), express reflections on the subtlety of differences between these multiple forms of loneliness and reunion together, about the mystery of the real encounter with ourselves and with others - human or non-human entities.
It is said that loneliness is a diagnosis of our times anyway, and on the contrary, being able to be alone (with yourself) would be a necessity to lessen the problems of society (Blaise Pascal). The new reality, the situation in Ukraine, in which we woke up brutally, confirms Pascal's words, moving the game of human interactions and our attention to another framework, of the visible / real war.
Through the relationship between spheres, a kind of automated dance, I suggest various scenarios of interpersonal and non-human interaction during the isolation period and the probability of encounters, but also a perception of them at the micro-molecular level, where interactions can become coherent regardless of framework or dialogue.
site-specific installation (screen for changing printed clothes, 3 pieces of clothing, office, specific laboratory objects, collages)
The three acts proposed by the artist follow three stages of an possible exercise of imagination about the relations between "species" and the border between the entities forming the biological chain. Firstly, the clothes are a vehicle to reveal our personality and the patterns an extension to the exotic lands. Then, the domestic space, in which another world is created for the body. And finally, the laboratory, where an alternative world is being built through constant risk and experiment.
Photo: Liliana Mercioiu, Daliana Iacobescu
Place for Doing Nothing
The work Place for Doing Nothing cound be situated at the interference between Land art intervention and functional structure. The hammock for individual use is replaced here with a braid of hammocks, a surface large enough to withstand concomitant use. The collective hammock is a place of relaxation and detachment, a possible shared experience, which makes us aware of the difference between "consuming time / passing through time" and "living time / existing in time". The idea behind Liliana Mercioiu Popa's intervention starts from the relationship of the individual with the rapid passage of time, time that is never enough, despite all the tools we have created to reduce time consumption with certain activities, to become as efficient as possible, to be able to do more. (Maria Orosan)
Photo: Liliana Mercioiu, Massimo Fiorito
Spectrum of Celebration
Liliana Mercioiu Popa's intervention in the most spectacular greenhouse of the Young Naturalists Resort - the dome greenhouse - refers to the fundamental role of the vegetable regnum in supporting life. The transformation of solar energy into food and the production of oxygen in the atmosphere are the mechanisms by which the plant creates the framework for the coexistence and interdependence of all living beings.
The moments of celebration during our existence involve plants (tree branches, wreaths, sheafs, bouquets, various floral arrangements), but most of the time the symbolic significance of these gestures has been lost. The artist proposes a celebration of nature, human being included, as an event in itself, not just an "companion" in celebrating the existential path of humans. Such a celebration could only be a delight for the eye, covering the entire solar spectrum - the one perceptible by humans - and the overwhelming complexity of the entire living world. (Maria Orosan)
Photo: Liliana Mercioiu, Alexandra Costea
The Subsequent Space intervention proposes a structuring of the garden space, through a flexible construction, made of elastic bands, creating the appearance of delimitations within it, but actually causing it to be crossed.
The title is an adaptation of the concept of "subsequent body" of the philosopher Emanuele Coccia by which he spoke about the extension of the physical body outside (inside out), thus becoming a secondary / subsequent body, which only makes communication with the world possible.
Extending this concept to the idea of "later space" becomes a challenge for the artist to create a "sensitive space" to all the environmental conditions given by its location in a garden and to all possible types of interactions, not only human. This puts visitors in a special relationship with the existing natural data (plants, birds or insects, but also phenomena), provoking reflection on the interconnections / the existing interconditions between different spheres, persons, entities.
Photo: Daliana Iacobescu
Displayed at MNAC in the exhibition "Moduri de a construi" [Methods of Building], the installation Corespondențe [Correspondences] by artist Liliana Mercioiu-Popa is the map of some blood vessels in the human body, made of branches of Salix Tortuosa. In this way, the artist reflects on the irrelevance of the borderline between the human body and the natural world, a physical truth demonstrated at a micro level, which contradicts the common perception of clear delimitations.
Liliana Mercioiu Popa. Methods of building (MNAC Bucharest, 06.02. - 03.05.2020) installation view
photo: © Serioja Bocsok / MNAC
The installation Vecinătate [Vicinity] by Liliana Mercioiu-Popa is made up of a metallic structure, normally used in constructions, which is put into relation with nursery-grown trees and mineral matter sound in the museum courtyard. The installation represents the visual and conceptual core of the exhibition "Moduri de a construi" [Methods of Building] at MNAC and talks about the way people "build" in relation to nature. The installation also has a participative component: the trees have to be kept alive all through the exhibition.
"I started from the first impression I got of the area around the museum and I looked at the way in which people "build" (not just physically) at the incidence with nature. At MNAC one can see how certain types of human actions have a decisive impact on the environment and on older housing sites. Some social slippages are also visible: exaggerated physical constructions and the natural habitat that develops unhindered in their vicinity.
Paradoxically, in this case, at present, it is nature that "affects"
the human intervention. I was surprised to notice the way in which the marble tiles on
the steps at the entrance of the museum are dislodged by the force of primary
forms of vegetation and by natural phenomena. It seems to me that this type of image
somehow suggests the most pessimistic scenario of the ones circulating lately
about this man-nature relationship: the probability that life on earth may
regenerate in the future, in the absence of man." (Liliana Mercioiu Popa)
Made up of several wooden frames put perpendicularly on the wall and set in balance through lateral tensions created by elastic cords, the installation is a kind of mirroring of the society, with all the constructs it creates for itself both collectively and individually. The antagonism of the relationships transcribed directly on the wall brings to attention the imbalance that threatens beyond the permanently tensioned balance.
Liliana Mercioiu Popa's Sita de aur [Gold sieve] is based on several paint strainers that look precious. It brings up some cultural core layers, such as the mythological one, (see the Golden Fleece), or colonial incursions and "gold rush".
The provenance and aspect of wool could in itself lead to a discussion of other possible layers: the condition of the Romanian shepherd (an emblematic character), the situation of the wool processing industry at present and the way in which certain natural "unprocessed" materials are rendered unrecognizable by the capitalist whirlwind and the evolution of things today.
Liliana Mercioiu Popa. Methods of building (MNAC Bucharest, 06.02. - 03.05.2020) installation view
photo: © Serioja Bocsok / MNAC
In the work
entitled Clasificări [Classifications], the artist Liliana Mercioiu Popa uses a fragment of a metal fire escape,
which she sets horizontally over a rock which supports some vegetal life forms,
as a symbol of the relation between human beings and the mineral and the
vegetal. Two of the support legs of the
ladder are shorter, and the difference in level is attenuated by stacks of paper
sheets printed with excerpts from a dictionary, in which man declares his
superiority over the other forms of existence.
"There are no hierarchies, and, despite what we
think, from time to time we are brutally faced with the truth. We are but a link
in a food chain: if we need proof, we need not look further than the current situation
created by the «entity» COVID-19, an elementary form of existence - a pathogen
dependent on other live cells - that holds such
power over us." (Liliana
Broken compass - At the heart of every difficulty is an opportunity
2015 recontextualised in 2019 and 2020
This artwork referred to the feeling of drift, felt as a result of the events around me. It has the characteristic of folding and questioning the place or time when it is installed.
In the version (re) contextualized during the corona virus pandemic, I only assumed the change of the title of the paper, in which I paraphrased Albert Einstein, as a counterweight to what the image does not present, while sending the situation generated by the pandemic, which comes to deepen this feeling even more. The broken compass induces the question "What can you aspire to and where can you go?", and the paraphrase does not seem to say "The future depends on the actions of the present". It is a matter of choice in which of the two attitudes persists.
2019Installation (four screens, construction scaffolding) variable size
By means of the four types of routes which have a common denominator in a perspective of the city, without being limited to these visible aspects, but engulfing also the invisible ones that are specific for this existential plane, the installation entitled "Inner routes" discusses the close relationship between external reality and the subjective perception of it.
Starting from the idea that "when you change the way you look at something, that something changes", the question asked by this work is which of these perceptions is the real one and which is the one falsely constructed? Is it that external reality conditions a change in our inner selves or is it that we cannot change our external reality because of our inner immobility?
acrylic on canvas, 3x 40x50 cm
Starting from the cliché that the truth is written "in black and white" and using a method employed in other works, which comes from elementary, combinatorial mathematics, I aim to trigger free reflections from viewers in relation to certain existential contexts and the possibility of truth.
The work was
structured taking into consideration some of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's
reflections on the visible and the invisible, such as "One's perception of the
world is made in the world, while the proof of truth is found inside one's
Series of assemblages, recovered wall fragments, furniture and family photo frames, 150x100 cm, part from Common Space Exhibition, Art Encounters/ISHO, Timişoara
This ensemble of works is a symbolic reconstruction of the vibe of certain rooms within the living quarters - the dining rooms and the kitchen, using a repertoire of recovered materials that were part of such settings. These are the spaces where family members spend time together; as a rule, they bear the mark of a woman's involvement and devotion, trough activities which many times go without being visible or quantified as social contributions.
In the extension of the body
Site-specific installation, various objects from the personal intimate space (part from Baroc Urban Exhibition, Art Museum from Timișoara)
This need to
map the repertoire of surrounding objects, with which our body interacts over
time, and of the sensations felt by these "touches", was motivated by
the feeling that our attention tends to be increasingly connected with the
"outside". Nothing seems to satisfy us anymore so we lose some of
that intimacy with ourselves. This is also noticeable in our personal
relationship with the objects that accumulate around us, as if between our skin
and these forms appears an indistinct layer that restricts the true
Site-specific installation - Window and the natural light, existing ramp; an old map of the neighborhood, on the top of that, and one of the world, along the ramp, transposed in stencils; transparent platform, suspended, containing gel microspheres silicone; size 200 x 600 cm, h 250 cm (part from UNIVERSALLOWED Exhibition, curator Maria Orosan Telea, Batteries Factory Tower, with Avantpost)
A former battery factory with its history and abandoned objects, becomes a universe allowed, partially integrated in the artistic processuality by this work, during the "Universallowed" exhibition of the Avanpost Platform in Timişoara, for which it was created.
The work proposes a game of perception and understanding in relation with the multiple meanings of the word "mirage", the aim being to reflect on the immigration phenomenon, to which the work is visually referenced.
Under the direct influence of the public who
can interact with the small spheres (which grow and float in a water film) they
are spontaneously reconfigured into new community forms. The atmosphere created
by this arrangement is meant to maintain the mirage idea needed for
Temporal Chain - Ante and Post "Me" ,
Site-specific Installation (existent pieces of furniture, rebuilt wall, old picture, 2 pieces from a personal artwork, recently encased diary)
A placement (extension) of myself in time through three hypostases with the specific characteristics of each: the "given" in relation with the external "turmoil" and decisions made at a certain moment... a perpetual reinvention of self and meaning... Tricking the nothingness or merely existing?
Under the apparent and pretentious self-positioning in time through art, I actually present a short history of my family's creativity, on the genetic lineage. At the same time, this work is a tribute to my grandmother, whose creative qualities were put to work in various types of weave and needlework, in matching the colours, choosing the yarn threads and organizing motifs all through my childhood. Her generous use of the so-called "attributes of femininity", although not every woman possesses them just by being a woman, was probably the framework for my own creativity. My teenage daughter's outstanding creative manifestation through picture diaries, as an extension of myself, continues the red thread of some fundamentally individual artistic manifestations.
The installation proposed for exhibition contains one of the pictures sewn and framed by my grandmother - they still hang on the walls of the house I grew up in, just like they were during her lifetime - two elements from a personal work entitled Actions, states, passions - each of them containing the transcription of a number of action verbs, where some take place horizontally and others vertically -, as well as the picture diary of my 16-year-old daughter - opened at a page of her choosing and encased.
The personal artwork that I decided to re-contextualize here represents an important moment in my artistic orientation.
Site-specific installation,Galateca Gallery, Bucharest
This project is an example of drawing which later became a site-specific installation and was also re-discussed through painting is what I grouped under the name Spaţiu medial [Medial space], irrespective of the ways of expression used.
2016 recontextualised in MNAC exhibition in 2019
Installation by two-piece (re)write exhaust signals disposed one inside the exhibition, one at the way out; approx. dimensions 20 x 30 cm (work exposed in the dark during the Night of the Galleries, Exhibition Nightshiftt, Plan 0, Timişoara).
Starting from the almost identical appearance of two words - Exit and Exist, I set out to make a visual game, a sort of ophthalmic test of difference.
In the darkness offered by the concept of the exhibition, both as a means of expression in cooperation with the new technologies and as a subject of reflection, I propose to use an EXSIT visual / luminescence mark above the entry as a perfectly justified element in conditions of low visibility of a space closed, except that it will have an extra letter... The presentation of this will depend, in the first instance, on the perception of the viewer, and then, by referring to a similar indication elsewhere in the exhibition, discovering of the other signal - COEXIST, to be offered a further evidence of the work.
By the two signals the two EXSIT - COEXIST expressions, with the spatial distance between them, I wanted to provoke the creation of the connections and the sensations in this space, according to each viewer.
Coexistence is a choice in an immediate
context, but from a larger perspective it's a fact that must automatically
involve responsibility for the others. The too, coexistence and existence, are
Liliana Mercioiu Popa.Methods of building (MNAC Bucharest, 06.02. - 03.05.2020) installation view
photo: © Serioja Bocsok / MNAC
Site specific installation, overturned easel, debris, plant culture suggesting together all the meanings of the word culture in the dictionary, (part of the group exhibition Avantpost - Connection with the present, curators Nathalie Hoyos & Rainald Schumacher, Art Encounters Biennale Appearance and Essence, Memorial of the 1898 Revolution, Timişoara)
In spoken language, phonemes give words the opportunity to look for their meanings, sometimes revealing surprising analogies and interpretations. This is the case of the word "culture", which in Romanian has certain meanings when it is pronounced/written correctly - cultură (crystallization over time of all values of the humankind, care for harmonious physical development, crop production), and totally different ones when wrong spelling is employed intentionally, for instance cult ură ("cult" - exaggerated admiration for someone or something, and ură - "hate", strong feeling of hostility).
The artwork bring in a context that talk about the recent history, the period after the Revolution of '89 until now, visual references for the word "culture" (also meaning physical or plant culture), causing the public to observe and meditate on the interactions between them, but also on the "pronunciation / understanding" of the word in relation to this context.
Recontextualizing the work would bring with it
a wider perspective on dehumanizing and polarizing constructs of cultural
separations through which new borders have been fabricated.
What about you?
Public space installation, size 400 x 400 cm, exposed in the Art Encounters biennial -Appearance and Essence in the Artwork in Public Space section in 2015.
This artwork is meant to be an existential question. Rather than "signifying" something in a formal way, its aim is to challenge the viewer to perceive the meaning of the question itself. Its ambiguity can have a diverse impact: in front of it, one can stop and wonder about the sense each individual gives to their own existential journey.
For me it's an ars poetica work, the possibility of establishing a dialogue between art and public being essential for my approach.
The place where it was exhibited - Theresia
Bastion, a landmark for the history of Timişoara, after architectural rehabilitation,
it stands for valuing the past into the construction of the present. Another
reason for choosing this particular place (a passageway) was my specific wish
to facilitate/trigger reflexive dialogue with the passers-by. Through the
question that it asks the public, it requires the continuation of the proposed
2014 recontextualised here, in 2015 and in 2019
Modular installation of wooden frames and elastic cords, dimensions 80x80 x 500 cm / module(To consolidate, "to strengthen, to make more durable", where con- is a prefix meaning "together", contributing to noun formation; solidary - 1. Connected to someone or something with a shared responsibility and interest; 2. Connected, in a construction, to another piece or object.)
By means of the gesture multiplying a spatial construction, by now emblematic for a series of artworks in my portfolio, I wish to make a reference to the notion of abutment, in a symbolic gesture of solidarity/appreciation/support of the efforts made to carry out the project of this museum.
In a symbolic key, the spatially structured
module I start from stands for the need to reach a state of balance, to shape
up a positive environment, to set, at an individual level, a number of
coordinates in the relationship with the outer world.
Geometric wooden structures arranged spatially, varying sizes between 150 and 170 cm high and between 180 and 270 cm length
Starting from the projected shadow of a cube (geometric solid that defines a certain perfection), which varies depending on the different directions the light comes from, I want to highlight the degree of subjectivity/distortion that certain points of view (or concepts, ideologies in general) have in relation to "an essence".
By giving physical consistency to shadows at the level of three structural constructions (achieved by flattening and stretching the cubes until they become bi-dimensional) and by perceiving them simultaneously, I intend to convey how hard it is to capture essence in a certain shape.
This artwork is an attempt to give visual
consistency to the fact that what we perceive can only be subjective/distorted.
Essence will not have a precise shape, it eludes our eyes and all other organs
of perception, and perhaps that is the reason why it does not belong to anybody
in particular, but to us all, because it is ingrained in us in the form of
aspiration, and each of us has a choice to make whether or not to follow the
inner need to find it.
Interactive sound installation, with 11 boxes of dominoes (5 × 10 cm), audio recording playing the sound of falling tiles, overall size 250 x 50 cm
Liliana Mercioiu Popa's work brings into discussion the topic of globalization, allowing the viewer, through the symbolic gesture of acting on the tiles of domino, to contribute to understanding the meaning of the term. Triggering the avalanche of tiles that reunite in the pile beneath the boxes represents a personal choice, just as each of us can choose to be actors in the globalization game or to remain spectators.
Through the construction of the work, the answer to the question stated in the title is bivalent.
On one hand, globalization is just noise, because there are no tiles left in the boxes, thus the word, once it finally becomes coherent, loses its strength. On the other hand, the falling tiles not only produce noise, but also mechanical interaction, they collide with each other, they determine each other's trajectories and the space they inhabit in this whole called globalization. (Maria Orosan)
Installation (spatial construction of elastic cords and picture frame, size 486x80x80)
The work Just silence?, based on the artist's recently conducted plastic research and correlated to her second work from the exhibition, "calls for quiet reflection on what ends up in noise, in relation to what quietly smolders, or on possible intermediate stages", to use the very words of Liliana Popa Mercioiu.
Setting up a tense spatial geometry by elastic cords, which determines, at the same time, its stability and balance, appears as an expression of a profound artistic creed. The temptation of overusing, interfering or skidding can always be countered by immersion in its own inner peace.