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Pavilion UniCredit 2010/2011 – A Collective Protest Letter

July 10, 2011
Zampa di Leone, Pavilion DisCredit, March 2011

This protest letter begins with the particular set of circumstances which brought together an international group of art workers from different positions in the field. Through these exchanges, they decided work collectively to make visible the conditions of inequality and exploitation that they wanted to rescue from slander and gossip – or leave them unquestioned as the sole privilege of institutions.

Namely, we began collaborating as a group of artists, curators, art historians and intellectuals who wanted to publicly bring to light Pavilion UniCredit’s consistent mistreatment of artists, workers and even visitors to their center in Bucharest.  This center is devoted to contemporary art and culture and financed by one of the most prominent banks in Europe – UniCredit Tiriac Bank. Yet, we see its mission to provide a space for critical thinking and dialogue compromised – through the management’s repressive maneuvers against those of us who problematized their politics and criticized their engagement with their main sponsor.

Having witnessed and experienced first-hand the exploitations perpetrated by the management, we decided it was our collective duty to openly speak against them, as well as warn those artists, curators and workers collaborating with this center.  While we recognized the importance of this space as part of a growing effort to build a much-needed sustainable network for the art scene in Romania and contemporary art in general, we considered institutional critique just as prescient. Our attempts to establish a constructive critical dialogue with the management of Pavilion was consistently met with disregard and silence, unbefitting a space with a self-declared social and political mission channeled through art and culture.  Moreover, the Pavilion team has circulated letters to a closed list of supporters that slander some of the artists that dared challenge their prowess on the local and international scene.

In response, we made public a series of instances which demonstrated Pavilion’s problematic relationship with its corporate benefactor. Through these instances we also emphasized how the management privileged this relationship at the disadvantage of artists it claimed to represent, its employees and the general public. For some time, these accounts were disparately published online. Yet we wanted to bring them all together to challenge the clout of this center to control what issues affect its workers. In doing so, we wanted to provide a positive example of collective protest against the appropriation of radical art, culture and theory by institutions entrenched in Power and Capital.

The unfolding of events began in February 2009, when the St. Peterburg-based art collective Chto Delat? was invited to participate in the exhibition “Comrades of Time,” curated by Joanna Sokolowska at Pavilion.  The collective asked for a modest fee to present their video work “Angry Sandwhich People” or “In Praise of Dialectics” (2005). They argued that, since the center was financed by UniCredit, and named in honor of the same bank, then the latter should offer more solid support to the artists exhibiting on their premises – at least covering their travel and per diem expenses to view the exhibition. After being informed by the Pavilion management (via the curator) that there were no funds for artists’ compensation of any kind, they agreed to show their video work for free – but on the condition that it would be shown in conjunction with a discussion or intervention on the issue of financial support for the arts from corporate sponsors. The board of Pavilion rejected this proposal, informing Chto Delat? that they could not permit anyone to exhibit an attack on their institution or its main sponsor, even in the form of an artwork within the institution itself. This instance is one of several in which the management of Pavilion foreclosed the opportunity of a productive discussion dealing with the conditions of artist labor, preferring to leave unchallenged the principles of corporate funding.

Chto Delat?’s account of the events can be read here.

Société Réaliste, Spectral Aerosion, 2010. Jean-Baptiste Naudy removed this work from the Biennale in protest

On the occasion of the Bucharest Biennale 4, entitled Handlung: Producing Possibilities (also run by Pavilion UniCredit) – which opened on May 20th 2010, the concern over artists’ fees and funding arose yet again. French artist, Jean-Baptiste Naudy, part of the collective Société Réaliste, challenged the curator of the biennale, Felix Vogel to explain why some artists were not compensated for their work, even in the form of a symbolic per diem. This exchange took place during an open forum between Vogel, Eugen Rădescu and Răzvan Ion – co-directors of the biennale- and the artists right before the opening. The curator explained that the center had negotiated budgets for each artists with his/her respective embassy or cultural institute – leaving unmentioned UniCredit’s lack of financial support for artists’ production budgets or their labor.  Echoing the concerns of many artists participating in the biennale, Naudy questioned the validity of this event to critique the political economy and re-energize social consciousness, when blatant disparities between who gets paid and who doesn’t remain unresolved and unspoken. But what was more upsetting than the lack of preparedness of the organizers to address these prescient concerns, was director Răzvan Ion (who was also the co-director of the Biennale) violent dismissal of Naudy’s intervention. Ion qualified the latter’s statements as inappropriate from an artist living and working the West, killing the discussion right then and there.

Freelance critic Daniel Tucker publicized the heated discussion between the curator, the directors of the biennale and the artists – here.

Press Conference for Bucharest Biennale 4, May 2010, held in the most expensive hotel in Bucharest, The Intercontinental

But the condition of artist labor was not the only thorny issue avoided in this manifestation. Before the Biennale began, one of the works scheduled to be installed in the Geology Museum was censored. The work in question, “Tit for Twat” by U.S. artist Kaucyila Brooke dealt with lesbian and inter-racial sexuality, themes which are surely relevant to the nascent civil society in Romania, fraught with homophobia and xenophobia. The director of the Museum in which the work was to be shown qualified it as pornography and refused to display it on the premises. The management of Pavilion and the curator confined themselves to qualifying the ban of the artwork as Stalinist era politics. They did not however, offer to show this work in any other of the 6 venues available for the Biennale, including their own space, which boasts a radical social and political agenda; at the same time, Brooke made it clear she was willing to compromise and have just pieces of the work shown, a suggestion which the management rejected. Surely, since not all of the works in the Biennale contained nudity, some compromise could have been achieved by simply switching works around – which would have allowed for Brooke’s prescient work to be available to the public.

Brooke’s statements regarding the censorship of her work and the center’s passive attitude can be read here.

How can it be, we ask, that during the most important contemporary art event in the country – according to Pavilion’s self-eulogies – concerns over the condition of artists’ labor and censorship be dismissed and reprimanded? Moreover, what is deeply disturbing and worrisome is that the repression is channeled by the leaders of the institution which is supposed to support and show solidarity with its workers with which it shares the responsibility of creating an engaged public in art and culture.

In March 2011, a young curator working as an Assistant Director at Pavilion UniCredit, Simina Neagu, had the initiative of an exhibition  called “Just do it. Biopolitical Branding.” As the title clearly suggests, the project deals with the function of branding used as a re-appropriation and resistance strategy by different artist groups in order to counter the aggressive assault upon the public space perpetrated through consumerist semiotics and corporatist propaganda. There were two Romanian art collectives invited to this exhibition, Postspectacle and The Bureau of Melodramatic Research, as a result of the symbolical re-framing they manage to produce through their interventions (by using either overstatement or denunciation in their artistic practice).

First, Postspectacle was asked to estimate a production budget. They sent a text and an image for the catalogue and proposed a 1000 Euro budget that would include production costs and artist fees for the four people involved; they also expressed their intention to enact a performance at the opening of the exhibition (i.e. an action which they did not intend to record or rehearse in front of the Pavilion team). The text they sent announced the imminent “death” of their project when entering an art space which is both funded by a prominent bank and at the same time overstates its leftist political agenda through flamboyant activist statements on every possible occasion (this practice of the Pavilion management led to a new term which is currently in use in the Romanian context: anarcho-corporatist schizophrenia.) Following their proposal the artists were irrevocably excluded from the exhibition under the pretext that they could not be paid the amount they estimated. Although they didn’t present this sum as a final and insurmountable condition, they were being got rid of in an alleged natural and innocent way. Despite asserting in the first place that the sum is flexible according to each proposal, Pavilion consequently imposed a nonnegotiable amount of 200 Euro for both fees and production cost in the case of the Romanian collectives. Postspectacle insisted on participating in spite of the low-cost conditions, so the final kick-out came through an unexpected email from the Director of Pavilion UniCredit, Răzvan Ion – who clearly had the last word in all respects and who, in the course of the events, acted as a spontaneous spokesperson for the curator. This kind of patronizing attitude was even more flagrant because the curator was now, willingly or unwillingly, cast in the role of the woman-subaltern who cannot speak.

The account of the ensuing events which also led to the unfounded violent kick-out of some members of Postspectacle and their friends at the official opening by the Director of Pavilion UniCredit in front of the amazed and confused audience – can be read in artist Valentina Desireri‘s protest letter to UniCredit Bank – here.

The collective Postspectacle also reflected on the revelation of Pavilion’s real politics in front of a wide audience on their website – their entry “Dorato Action” can be accessed here. 

The second case of mistreatment operated by Pavilion UniCredit was against the Bureau of Melodramatic Research (BMR).

The aforementioned artists’ proposal to deconstruct and denounce the concept of sustainability as mere corporate branding (brand-washing), animated with the help of artists like the ones involved in this particular exhibition “We Are The Soul of Sustainability”, was met with a great deal of skepticism by the Director of the institution. After some discussions, the concept was nevertheless approved. The installation was ready in due time (i. e. a whole office with furniture from UniCredit Tiriac Bank, decorated with paintings according to the bank’s buy-preferences etc) except for the emergency evacuation plan which was supposed to function as a legend of this patch-office stressing the interconnected banking and art worlds. This plan was brought to the space in the morning of the opening and was mounted on the wall together with the curator. Although he got the digital version one day before, the Director Răzvan Ion verbally attacked the artists at the sight of the A3 evacuation plan which disclosed the amount of 200 Euro promised to BMR for fee and production, as well as the 2400 Euro scholarship the authors of the paintings on the wall had in turn received from UniCredit as part of the same sustainability strategy (scholarships awarded to MA students of the National University of Arts Bucharest, mainly traditional departments such as painting or graphics).

BMR, Soul of Sustainability, installation part of Just Do It. Biopolitical Branding at Pavilion Unicredit, March 2011

The display of the BMR fee was violently censored although the artists hadn’t signed any contract or confidentiality agreement. At the same time, the Director announced the firing of the curator which officially happened a few days after the opening. He threatened he would immediately cancel the exhibition if the collective wouldn’t change the 200 into 1400 euro – the amount he himself calculated based upon numbers he wouldn’t show or explain, stating that all current costs must be added (including the salaries, the energy bills etc). The change was made, the artists din not show up at the opening and the curator was fired, as promised. Subsequently, due to the already mentioned lack of contracting between the two parties (and possibly the public debates around the exposure of the events), the controversial remuneration was never paid.

The Bureau of Melodramatic Research have posted an account of these exchanges on their blog, which can be read here.

Despite the public protest on the part of both artist groups, no official answer was published – the only reaction being a private letter full of lies and speculations, denigrating all the artists involved in the conflict, which was sent by Pavilion to a selected list of contacts. This letter and PostSpectacle’s response to it can be read here.

This case is surely bound with the problematic practices associated with the management of a singular Contemporary Art Center in Bucharest.  But the issues we want to raise affect more than just this particular space run by certain individuals – they are intertwined with the politics of who controls the exhibition space and the system of abuse that allows for the legal exploitation of the art workforce on every-which occasion .  It is our deeply held belief that these concerns should not be silenced in the backrooms of banks or art institutions – but become the core of a collective protest among art workers against the appropriation of knowledge, art and culture.

Corina L. Apostol, Ph.D student, Rutgers University, NJ, USA
The Bureau of Melodramatic Research, artist collective based in Bucharest, Romania
Valentina Desideri, freelance performer based in Italy and France
Jean-Baptiste Naudy of Société Réaliste, artist collective based in Paris, France
Postspectacle, artist collective based in Bucharest, Romania
Stefan Tiron of Paradis Garaj/Kunsthalle Batiste, artist collective based in Bucharest, Romania
Dmitry Vilensky of Chto Delat?, artist collective based in St. Petersburg, Russia
Raluca Voinea, independent curator and art critic based in Bucharest, Romania

 

Epilogue

Lia Perjovschi, Statement, 2009

Many of us involved in the local art scene remember the moment when Pavilion UniCredit opened in February 2009 in Bucharest. It was inaugurated by an exciting exhibition curated by artist Lia PerjovschiStatement. For a brief period Lia held the position of Research Curator at this institution, until she decided to withdraw from the project- soon after the opening of “Statement.”  As the artist explains, she decided to end her collaboration with the space as things started to deteriorate in her working relationship with the management – after the Pavilion team had offered her a position and a space for her artist archive (CAA- The Contemporary Art Archive) – which was shortly replaced by their own Pavilion Resources Room. We still believe in the poignant ideas expressed by Lia Perjovschi when she created her Statement of Faith in Pavilion; we also believe the current management has gone a long way to compromise these ideals. As an epilogue to this complicated case, we invited Lia to reflect on the current state of affairs:

 

“What needs to be criticized is the basis of things:
From a Culture without any perspectives, still entrenched in the past, a Culture of  “few resources”
A Culture of competition,  of fear of the other…
An Education implemented without empathy, from a patronizing position
An Education done at random, without creativity or imagination
to an Art System frustrated by Unresolved Egos, more recently obsessed
with the market…
to the Impossibility of Dialogue  to build Necessary Things: Institutions
Value Systems, Relaxed Attitudes…

We are suffocated by a majority where everyone thinks they are The One – even though
they only copy and desire what belongs to others

I am sorry for every person who was cheated and abandoned
Everyone has useful abilities and I don’t understand why
they can’t simply identify their true qualities for a more
normal society… so that real achievements become possible”

lia

 

Please also see Stefan Tiron’s reaction to these matters,  Just Another Case of Toxic Leadership, September 2011

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2011 12:27 PM

    FROM: PAVILION, PAVILION UNICREDIT, BUCHAREST BIENNALE
    TO: Public
    Ref.: art-leaks.org, letter

    Through this open letter, PAVILION wishes to respond to the protest letter published on art-leaks.org by the art workers listed. The only reason PAVILION is responding publicly to this letter is that the organization finds this action offensive for its collaborators as well as for its public, and inaccurate.

    While the authors of the protest letter talk about just action in cultural practice and invoke wikiLeaks.org as a model for their action, PAVILION sees no resemblance between their declarations and actions. In that PAVILION strongly believes in institutional critique as an indispensable part of international discourse regarding cultural policies and institutional management, PAVILION publicly asks the signatories of this so-called protest letter to make public the documents or any other kind of evidence that justify their position and claims. On its part, PAVILION will present on demand complete emails, letters, contracts and other documents in relation to the specific cases mentioned in the original letter to show that the accusations made are at best, inaccurate, and at worst, false.

    As there appears to be confusion as to UniCredit’s role, PAVILION wishes to underline the fact that UniCredit is a sponsor of BUCHAREST BIENNALE, not a producer, and that UniCredit does not participate in the management of the event, its programmatic decision-making, or allocation of funds for individual projects. Because of the lack of support from the state or local authorities, the fundraising strategy for the Biennale is quite simple in terms of having to rely primarily on private sponsorship for general operating costs, and, for the participation of artists, having to rely mostly on the support from their respective governments. All of this is public information and is communicated to the participating artists.

    We will continue by analyzing every issue approached by them in their protest letter, bringing to the light a broader perspective over the real problems that stand behind this situation.

    Regarding the events generated by the collective Chto Delat?, the situation is completely different than the one presented, both in the open letter written by Dmitry Vilensky in February 20010, as well as the one presented in the collective protest letter. Curator Joanna Sokolowska invited Chto Delat? to participate in the exhibition “Comrades of Time” that she curated at PAVILION UNICREDIT in 2010. The collective asked for a fee for their participation, but unfortunately that would’ve been over the exhibition’s budget and with no alternative financial support for the project, we couldn’t pay them. Their reaction presented no intention towards any kind of dialogue. They asked the curator in an aggressive email with lots of blackmail connotations, to let us know that we have two possibilities regarding their future actions: either we exhibit the selected work featuring a scandalous statement against UniCredit, or they will write an open letter against PAVILION. We would like to underline the fact that there was no attempt of dialogue from Chto Delat? before their aggressive reaction. So, in conclusion, we chose not to be intimidated and not to respond to blackmail attempts. We also chose not to take part in this kind of ridiculous scandals by publicly reacting to threats, misleading statements and attacks, until now, when it seems we don’t have a choice anymore.

    As an example of this in the last Bienniale in 2010, the participation of Société Réaliste—one of the artists mentioned in this letter—was supported by the French Institute in Bucharest and as part of their policy, they did not support the per diem costs or fees, but instead supported the production in Bucharest of a new work for BB4, that remained the property of the collective. None of the members of Société Réaliste showed any sign of disappointment or complained about this issue.

    Jean-Baptiste Naudy’s (member of Société Réaliste) behavior, that, after dramatically making his scene, left the conference room in the middle of a debate, swearing and slamming the door, without waiting for any statement regarding this issue from the curator, or without taking part to any discussions regarding this problem, that were more willingly to develop between the curator and the participating artists, if it weren’t for Naudy’s theatrical cheep burst of rage, are evidence of his real goal. We don’t wish to undermine the importance of this issues and the need for a public debate, especially in the frame of a biennial, but what we want to point out, is Jean-Baptiste Naudy’s lack of interest for this problems and his intentions of generating a scandal in the frame of a big event, taking advantage of the presence of international press and other important artists, raising his level of radically coolness. This presumption is sustained by his behavior in other international exhibition where he acted in the same way, and when he was aggressive to curator Felix Vogel in the same evening, at a private party. Also, his affinity with the proletariat is supported by the bar bill a receptionist had to pay at the hotel, because he fled without paying.

    Another issue that is being brought attention about in the protest, is the censorship of Kaucyila Brooke’s work, “Tit for Twat” by the Geology Museum. Considering it to be politically incorrect, the director of the Museum banned the work from being exhibited in the space and led to a dispute between both parts lawyers. Once with the ban of the work, he also refused access to some of the exhibition spaces initially negotiated, including the space for displaying Kaucyila Brooke’s work, which supposed to be the entire hallway area of the second floor of the museum. This concluded in not only in having to find a different location to place the censored work, but there was also no space to properly show Kaucyila Brooke’s work wihch was of a very big dimension. So, together with the artist and Felix Vogel, the curator, BUCHAREST BIENNALE wrote, designed and printed a small take away that explained the situation, denounced the Geology Museum’s action and apologizing for the inconvenience to the artist, as well as to the public. The statement was published in the catalogue. The only reason the work was not displayed after the Museum’s decision, was the lack of space that would have made this intervention possible without affecting or compromising other works in the Biennale.

    The last conflict brought to the public’s attention through the letter of protest, is what, from our point of view, stands as the basis of this entire cheap scandal. The premises are very simple. Within PAVILION’s numerous initiatives of discovering and developing young professionals in the field, the organization invited Simina Neagu, who at the time of the invitation was working at PAVILION UNICREDIT as assistant director, to curate an exhibition within the center’s program. Continuing the center’s mission to promote young emerging Romanian artists, she invited Postspectacle and The Bureau for Melodramatic Research to be part of “Just do it. Biopolitical Branding”. Unfortunately, the invited collectives, took advantage of Simina Neagu’s lack of experience and developed their practice regarding this exhibition, in the sense of eventually they would generate an international scandal, that would apparently make them famous.

    Again, the story published in the protest, is very far from the real facts. Postspectacle group were invited to participate in the exhibition, a few months before the opening. They proposed the possibility of producing a new work that was supposed to deal with aspects highlighted by the curator in her concept. Without sending any proposal for the new project, they asked for a participation fee which is impossible for an organization like ours and when this was refused accordingly to our budget, they accused the curator of censorship. Two weeks before the opening of the exhibition, the curator and the collective finally agreed upon making a performance at the opening of the exhibition that would have continued during the show. In the next two weeks they systematically postponed all the meetings and discussions regarding the production of their work, which left the curator no option but to cancel their participation. At the opening, the members of the collective together with some others, entered the space with bottles of champagne, intending to sabotage the event and destroy the exhibited works with champagne, claiming their are performers. They were asked to leave the space, but they continued to harass the team and the other visitors until they left before the police arrived.

    The Bureau of Melodramatic Research turned to a different strategy, they showed a lot of respect and sympathy for Simina Neagu, until the opening day, when two hours before the opening they displayed as part of the installation, a “legend” of their work which contained false information about PAVILION, misleading information about UniCredit, the sponsor of the space, and false information regarding the management and budget of the project. Their work was never censored, it remained intact during the entire exhibition. Also their respect and sympathy for Simina Neagu ended in the opening day, when they did not attend the opening and did not warn Simina Neagu about the event that was going to happen. This was explained only after the event in an email they send to the curator few days after wards, explaining their real intentions of looking for public recognition through this scandal. The only reason the collective did not receive the fee, is that they did not, as agreed, come to sign the contract and collect the money.

    All these actions by a very small group of people lead to a very clear conclusion: the wish of the people who signed the letter is to the organization we have built in 12 years and take over the leadership of it. To be more clear we have to state again we are an organization which cannot be taken over. That is simply by legal reasons, and also because we are standing with hundreds of projects, press articles and letters of support which proof our sustained activity. It is worth to mention that Corina Apostol, one of the authors of the letter, did not mention a important fact, that in the spring of 2010, she worked with PAVILION UNICREDIT. The collaboration between her and the organization, terminated at the request of the publication manager and the executive director of Bucharest Biennale, which found her incompetence, lack of initiative, lack of support, impossible to handle. After she left, the rest of the team had to work twice as hard to recover her inactivity and repair the damage she brought with her input.

    Let’s remember PAVILION is the only organization in art field in Romania – and probably one of the few in Europe – which has 3 project lines (the biennial, the journal and the center) which are working daily 11 months a year.

    While acknowledging that in local contexts there are differing and at times opposing opinions about the arts scene in terms of the various arts organizations, artists, arts producers, and managers within it, given its track record in creating a platform for contemporary art and discourse in Bucharest and internationally through PAVILION journal, PAVILION UNICREDIT and the Bucharest Biennale, PAVILION is greatly disappointed by the tone and content of this letter and the inaccuracies within it.

    In view of the above, PAVILION will be taking legal action against arts-leaks.org and will ask the court to force the signatories to prove the accusations that are being made and to be forced to compensate PAVILION for moral and material prejudices.

    Still, the strongest answer to this kind of actions will be our continuous activity and our further program which will continue for years from now.

    prof. Eugen Rădescu, chairman of the board

    prof. Răzvan Ion, director

    Andrei Crăciun, coordinator

    *As a continuation of this letter you can find 3 extras from the letters and emails where involved in the cases.

    FROM: PAVILION, PAVILION UNICREDIT, BUCHAREST BIENNALE
    TO: Public
    Ref.: art-leaks.org, letter
    Through this open letter, PAVILION wishes to respond to the protest letter published on art-leaks.org by the art workers listed. The only reason
    PAVILION is responding publicly to this letter is that the organization finds this action offensive for its collaborators as well as for its public,
    and inaccurate.
    While the authors of the protest letter talk about just action in cultural practice and invoke wikiLeaks.org as a model for their action, PAVILION
    sees no resemblance between their declarations and actions. In that PAVILION strongly believes in institutional critique as an indispensable
    part of international discourse regarding cultural policies and institutional management, PAVILION publicly asks the signatories of this
    so-called protest letter to make public the documents or any other kind of evidence that justify their position and claims. On its part, PAVILION
    will present on demand complete emails, letters, contracts and other documents in relation to the specific cases mentioned in the original
    letter to show that the accusations made are at best, inaccurate, and at worst, false.
    As there appears to be confusion as to UniCredit’s role, PAVILION wishes to underline the fact that UniCredit is a sponsor of BUCHAREST
    BIENNALE, not a producer, and that UniCredit does not participate in the management of the event, its programmatic decision-making, or
    allocation of funds for individual projects. Because of the lack of support from the state or local authorities, the fundraising strategy for the
    Biennale is quite simple in terms of having to rely primarily on private sponsorship for general operating costs, and, for the participation of
    artists, having to rely mostly on the support from their respective governments. All of this is public information and is communicated to the
    participating artists.
    We will continue by analyzing every issue approached by them in their protest letter, bringing to the light a broader perspective over the real
    problems that stand behind this situation.
    Regarding the events generated by the collective Chto Delat?, the situation is completely different than the one presented, both in the open
    letter written by Dmitry Vilensky in February 20010, as well as the one presented in the collective protest letter. Curator Joanna Sokolowska
    invited Chto Delat? to participate in the exhibition “Comrades of Time” that she curated at PAVILION UNICREDIT in 2010. The collective
    asked for a fee for their participation, but unfortunately that would’ve been over the exhibition’s budget and with no alternative financial support
    for the project, we couldn’t pay them. Their reaction presented no intention towards any kind of dialogue. They asked the curator in an
    aggressive email with lots of blackmail connotations, to let us know that we have two possibilities regarding their future actions: either we
    exhibit the selected work featuring a scandalous statement against UniCredit, or they will write an open letter against PAVILION. We would
    like to underline the fact that there was no attempt of dialogue from Chto Delat? before their aggressive reaction. So, in conclusion, we chose
    not to be intimidated and not to respond to blackmail attempts. We also chose not to take part in this kind of ridiculous scandals by publicly
    reacting to threats, misleading statements and attacks, until now, when it seems we don’t have a choice anymore.
    As an example of this in the last Bienniale in 2010, the participation of Société Réaliste—one of the artists mentioned in this letter—was supported
    by the French Institute in Bucharest and as part of their policy, they did not support the per diem costs or fees, but instead supported
    the production in Bucharest of a new work for BB4, that remained the property of the collective. None of the members of Société Réaliste
    showed any sign of disappointment or complained about this issue.
    Jean-Baptiste Naudy’s (member of Société Réaliste) behavior, that, after dramatically making his scene, left the conference room in the middle
    of a debate, swearing and slamming the door, without waiting for any statement regarding this issue from the curator, or without taking
    part to any discussions regarding this problem, that were more willingly to develop between the curator and the participating artists, if it
    weren’t for Naudy’s theatrical cheep burst of rage, are evidence of his real goal. We don’t wish to undermine the importance of this issues
    and the need for a public debate, especially in the frame of a biennial, but what we want to point out, is Jean-Baptiste Naudy’s lack of interest
    for this problems and his intentions of generating a scandal in the frame of a big event, taking advantage of the presence of international
    press and other important artists, raising his level of radically coolness. This presumption is sustained by his behavior in other international
    exhibition where he acted in the same way, and when he was aggressive to curator Felix Vogel in the same evening, at a private party.
    Also, his affinity with the proletariat is supported by the bar bill a receptionist had to pay at the hotel, because he fled without paying.
    Another issue that is being brought attention about in the protest, is the censorship of Kaucyila Brooke’s work, “Tit for Twat” by the Geology
    Museum. Considering it to be politically incorrect, the director of the Museum banned the work from being exhibited in the space and led to
    a dispute between both parts lawyers. Once with the ban of the work, he also refused access to some of the exhibition spaces initially negotiated,
    including the space for displaying Kaucyila Brooke’s work, which supposed to be the entire hallway area of the second floor of the
    museum. This concluded in not only in having to find a different location to place the censored work, but there was also no space to properly
    show Kaucyila Brooke’s work wihch was of a very big dimension. So, together with the artist and Felix Vogel, the curator, BUCHAREST
    BIENNALE wrote, designed and printed a small take away that explained the situation, denounced the Geology Museum’s action and apologizing
    for the inconvenience to the artist, as well as to the public. The statement was published in the catalogue. The only reason the work
    was not displayed after the Museum’s decision, was the lack of space that would have made this intervention possible without affecting or
    compromising other works in the Biennale.
    The last conflict brought to the public’s attention through the letter of protest, is what, from our point of view, stands as the basis of this entire scandal. The premises are very simple. Within PAVILION’s numerous initiatives of discovering and developing young professionals in
    the field, the organization invited Simina Neagu, who at the time of the invitation was working at PAVILION UNICREDIT as assistant director,
    to curate an exhibition within the center’s program. Continuing the center’s mission to promote young emerging Romanian artists, she
    invited Postspectacle and The Bureau for Melodramatic Research to be part of “Just do it. Biopolitical Branding”. Unfortunately, the invited
    collectives, took advantage of Simina Neagu’s lack of experience and developed their practice regarding this exhibition, in the sense of eventually
    they would generate an international scandal, that would apparently make them famous.
    Again, the story published in the protest, is very far from the real facts. Postspectacle group were invited to participate in the exhibition, a few
    months before the opening. They proposed the possibility of producing a new work that was supposed to deal with aspects highlighted by
    the curator in her concept. Without sending any proposal for the new project, they asked for a participation fee which is impossible for an
    organization like ours and when this was refused accordingly to our budget, they accused the curator of censorship. Two weeks before the
    opening of the exhibition, the curator and the collective finally agreed upon making a performance at the opening of the exhibition that would
    have continued during the show. In the next two weeks they systematically postponed all the meetings and discussions regarding the production
    of their work, which left the curator no option but to cancel their participation. At the opening, the members of the collective together
    with some others, entered the space with bottles of champagne, intending to sabotage the event and destroy the exhibited works with champagne,
    claiming their are performers. They were asked to leave the space, but they continued to harass the team and the other visitors until
    they left before the police arrived.
    The Bureau of Melodramatic Research turned to a different strategy, they showed a lot of respect and sympathy for Simina Neagu, until the
    opening day, when two hours before the opening they displayed as part of the installation, a “legend” of their work which contained false information
    about PAVILION, misleading information about UniCredit, the sponsor of the space, and false information regarding the management
    and budget of the project. Their work was never censored, it remained intact during the entire exhibition. Also their respect and sympathy for
    Simina Neagu ended in the opening day, when they did not attend the opening and did not warn Simina Neagu about the event that was
    going to happen. This was explained only after the event in an email they send to the curator few days after wards, explaining their real intentions
    of looking for public recognition through this scandal. The only reason the collective did not receive the fee, is that they did not, as
    agreed, come to sign the contract and collect the money.
    All these actions by a very small group of people lead to a very clear conclusion: the wish of the people who signed the letter is to the organization we have built in 12 years and take over the leadership of it. To be more clear we have to state again we are an organization which
    cannot be taken over. That is simply by legal reasons, and also because we are standing with hundreds of projects, press articles and letters
    of support which proof our sustained activity. It is worth to mention that Corina Apostol, one of the authors of the letter, did not mention a
    important fact, that in the spring of 2010, she worked with PAVILION UNICREDIT. The collaboration between her and the organization, terminated
    at the request of the publication manager and the executive director of Bucharest Biennale, which found her incompetence, lack of
    initiative, lack of support, impossible to handle. After she left, the rest of the team had to work twice as hard to recover her inactivity and repair the damage she brought with her input.
    Let’s remember PAVILION is the only organization in art field in Romania – and probably one of the few in Europe – which has 3 project lines
    (the biennial, the journal and the center) which are working daily 11 months a year.
    While acknowledging that in local contexts there are differing and at times opposing opinions about the arts scene in terms of the various arts
    organizations, artists, arts producers, and managers within it, given its track record in creating a platform for contemporary art and discourse
    in Bucharest and internationally through PAVILION journal, PAVILION UNICREDIT and the Bucharest Biennale, PAVILION is greatly disappointed
    by the tone and content of this letter and the inaccuracies within it.
    In view of the above, PAVILION will be taking legal action against arts-leaks.org and will ask the court to force the signatories to prove the
    accusations that are being made and to be forced to compensate PAVILION for moral and material prejudices.
    Still, the strongest answer to this kind of actions will be our continuous activity and our further program which will continue for years from now.

    prof. Eugen Rădescu, chairman of the board
    prof. Răzvan Ion, director
    Andrei Crăciun, coordinator

    *As a continuation of this letter you can find 3 extras from the letters and emails where involved in the cases.

    On 19 Jan 2010, at 02:19, Joanna Sokołowska wrote:
    Dear Comrades,
    we are in a deadlock, how to move forward?

    I`ve already explained your arguments to Dmitry, that the state does not
    support such initiatives in Romania, and that you`re doing a great deal of
    work fullfilling many gaps in this respect.
    Also it seems to be clear that the strickt division between public and
    private/commercial funding in art is an outmoded criteria nowadays when many
    public institutions rely on sponsors etc.
    He`s aware of this fact, his respond is already a reaction to these
    arguments (maybe I should additionally name his bank sponsors of zacheta
    anational gallery of art in Warsaw where he participated in the show without
    any doubts)
    What is to be done? I still respect Chto Delat even if they may be wrong.
    I WOULD SUGGEST THE FOLLOWING:
    – I will ask them to give up the blackmail and DISCUSS things with us in a
    peaceful and respectful way
    – I would still give them nonetheless the opportunity to express their
    critical opinion in the exhibition even if we don`t fully agree with their
    statement – but on the condition it`s not a blackmail that we can negotiate
    with them. I still belive that chto delat is seriously engaged in the
    question of actualization of the class struggles, questions of exploitation
    today – which is articulated in Angry Sandwich Peaople.
    ok I`m writing to Dmitry…
    SORRY

    On 18 Jan 2010, at 17:18, Joanna Sokolowska wrote:

    Hi,
    So we have a new issue to be solved, I hope you won`t take me as a
    trouble-maker.
    Dmitry Vilensky explained that because Unicredit is a rich bank they should
    give more money for the exhibitions and art , to pay good fees for the
    artists.
    I explained him the situation, that we have a low budget, we can`t really
    offer fees etc. I also told him about your agenda. He understands the
    reasons but for him it`s a political question of exploitation. Below he is
    explaining his reasons. Because you`re involved in cooperation with the
    bank I would like to ask you for your opinion. Personally I would like to
    have this statement, as it is a genuine respond to the current conditions of
    production. Which does not mean that I have to follow blindly the position
    of Dmitry, but I think it would be fair to give him a voice:
    dmitry vilensky <dmvilen@gmail.com
    Dear Joanna,
    thanks a lot for explaining your position – that i can understand very well
    – at the same time I should say we must do something against this
    humiliating condition of artistic production particular when they connected
    with a forms of political practices that we engage. I know very well the
    desperate situation in ex-socialist counties and world wide and our will to
    change it that's why i think that we must push a hyper capitalist
    institutions such as banks – who made enormous profit on speculating in poor
    countries and accumulation on dispossesion to pay in a decent way for the
    project that carries their name. and without our pressure nothing will
    change.
    so my proposal is very simple – we participate in this project because we
    respect you and guys from the space and like the concept of the show but in
    a current situation we offer to screen our work on very old computer
    connected to internet – a public on-line version of our film – and in
    addition to it we will make a text explaining why this "poor" presentation
    is exactly important gesture to show how "poor" are condition of production
    and exhibition provided by one of the richest bank in Europe – and this
    statement should be displayed together with our work.
    If Unicredit will not accept it – tell them that then we refuse of
    participation and make a public statement after investigation of their
    policy and this statement we will spread by all possible public media in art
    and culture and we have enough opportunities to make it a wide known public
    case –
    after what you said i feel really furious and it is really enough – it
    should not stand like this – we must undertake something
    my best
    d
    And:
    Yes that's diuscuss it all together and I would suggest very simple piece
    of institutional critique realted to the situation
    just one document – the budget of the space, the salaries, the production
    money and all artistic economy
    and paralel – the profit of the bank in Romania from 2003, conditions of
    credit in compare with Italy, the salaries of Italian and local managers and
    we do not need then to say to much
    I am also so angry because they use their progressivness just to show up
    internatioanaly but working condition are so terrible – reminds me tsarist
    time when Volter plays were played at the court by slave actors – fuck them
    all!

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: The Bureau of Melodramatic Research
    Date: March 16, 2011 8:38:04 PM GMT+02:00
    To: simina neagu
    Subject: Re: vernisaj

    Draga Simina,

    intelesesem gresit prima oara emailul tau (oboseala..) dar totul s-a clarificat din anuntul de pe facebook. Cred ca ai vazut ca am scris un text despre asta. Nu stiu cum privesti tu ce am scris si ce s-a intamplat in ultimele zile, speram sa nu iei nimic personal. Si nu trebuie sa ne dai raspunsuri, nu de asta iti scriem, ca sa avem aprobare de la tine – ne dam seama ca esti/ai fost foarte implicata in institutia Pavilion si respectam asta indiferent de experienta noastra si felul in care am judecat aceasta experienta. Noi am simtit ca trebuie sa reactionam. Nu este o situatie care sa ne faca placere si nici nu cautam sa capitalizam conflicte, desi recunoastem ca aceste conflicte functioneaza perfect ca branding si ca ne creste vizibilitatea prin atitudinea luata.
    Speram ca tu esti bine si iti tinem pumnii pentru proiecte si planuri de viitor. Si ne-ar face placere sa stam de vorba cand ai si tu timp, si nu despre povestea care ne leaga implicit, ci despre alte preocupari care ar putea sa ne lege mai tare decat scandalurile locale.

    toate bune,
    alina si irina

    From: Art Leaks [mailto:artsleaks@gmail.com]
    Sent: Friday, September 16, 2011 02:01 AM
    To: NUTA Anca Elena (UniCredit Tiriac Bank – RO – UniCredit)
    Subject: Pavilion UniCredit Open Protest Letter

    Since making this letter public, we have not received any response either from Pavilion UniCredit or UniCredit Tiriac Bank that addresses our concerns. We are writing to you now to ask for an official answer from your institution.

    We hope that these public complaints will stimulate your organization to search for more accountable and transparent leardership of Pavilion UniCredit…

    regards,

    The ArtLeaks Team

  2. September 1, 2011 2:43 PM

    a highly prescient article!

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