This is a text about a work of art, “The Room”, and about the process that brought it about. The process includes experiments in clay bodies, mixing different elements with the base clay in search of a material both suitable to work with in terms of texture and color, but also rich in less tangible qualities, as I mix in elements which carry a set of values of cultural identity.
The text follows the path towards development of the final piece during the two-year course of the master program at Konstfack. During these two years, external factors such as dealing with the issues of culture shock, and searching for a place to live, interfere with my way of thinking, leading to unexpected turns in the direction of my artistic process.
Searching for an apartment finds me standing in strangers' apartments as they sell their homes, their ways of life and their house rules. These sometimes awkward meetings provide a good starting point in my research of people's habits and habitats. In trying to understand some elements of Swedish culture, I become aware of the fact of my own culture and start thinking about it from an outside perspective.
Eventually, the central question of the essay crystallizes: Who will carry on the traditional craft techniques of my home country? Romania is the rare place in Europe where crafts are still being practiced as they have been for hundreds of years, in the villages by crafts persons leading traditional lives.
As the villages are emptied of young people, moving into cities, and as Romania as a whole is drained of a large part of its young and ambitious generation, moving to other European countries for jobs and education, a trend that I am of course part of, the traditions that I have taken for granted, growing up with my grandmother in a traditional village, become threatened.
The answer to the question is a simple as it is demanding: I have to be part of the future of Romanian crafts. To document them, understand them, and incorporate them in my art. For this purpose, I undertake an investigative research trip. The text presents my findings about the crafts, and about the people working to document and preserve the traditions. The research trip is also presented in the movie “Six days in Romania”, which I include as an appendix to the essay.
Over the course of two years, several short-term art projects have been completed within the master program. They are presented in the form of an interview with myself. Looking back at these projects, they become explained as necessary steps in preparation for the final piece, a viewpoint very different from the utter confusion that was the dominating feeling of at least the first year of the course. The interview tries to give insight into the non-linear process that is the creative work.
Finally, in a poetic description of the final piece, I let my art speak for itself in a very literal way. In giving voice to the piece, I try to access truths hidden even to myself, in an effort to be as transparent as possible about the value of my efforts.