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Where Monday is on Sunday

11-18 November 2011

 


 
Plan B

Ciprian Muresan, Dog Luv, 2009, vidéo, HD, 30min.56sec. After a screenplay by Saviana Stanescu. Video still Ciprian Muresan.
Courtesy Plan B, Cluj/Berlin

Plan B

Ciprian Muresan

Two books by Franz Kafka inexplicably fuse, without a motivation that would serve to frame this as either an act of methodical, ecstatic vandalism, or a desire to reconnect a kind of totality within the author’s oeuvre; the full text of the ‘Gospel of St. John’ is transcribed by hand on rubber-bound copy-sheets, seemingly in preparation for a most diç cult exam; the anamorphic skull in Hans Holbein’s ‘Ambassadors’ is presented frontally, in a drawing which suggests that anamorphosis, or indistinction, might be relocated as a smudge of color on the bodies of the Ambassadors themselves. Ciprian Muresan’s works speculate on the passage of time in cultural history, the ownership and classi_ cation of symbols, and the erosion of rituals. In Holbein’s ‘Ambassadors’, the skull becomes legible as such only if looked at from a raking angle, therefore from a position that is first epistemological, then mystical, as it situates the viewer directly under the crucifix. From this oblique perspective, the choice to present the skull frontally is over-determined. The un-coded access to an image translated in its own indirect perspective, therefore in inadequate terms, is an elliptic comment on the mechanisms of validation and exclusion that ensure the ‘flow’ of art history. It sets the scene for ‘Dog Luv’, a shadowy and unsettling dialogue on the de_ nitions of the non-human, about dogs to the same extent that it is about different shades of obscurity and contradiction, about distinct points, impulses and timelines interwoven, bound with each other in in-between-ness. About the lacunae this transformation leaves on a coherent map of subjects and objects, institutions and worlds. A recent video is a dislocated, and hypnotically effective, version of the Baptism ceremony performed in Orthodox churches. The ritual happens in a non-descript white space, where certain props recall a religious setting. Family and friends witness thethe spiritual give and take: the passage of the child from a state of being right outside the religious norm, to one of obedience and promised redemption. The script of the performance is the canonical text of the Orthodox Baptism, a meticulous teasing out of sin, violence, threat and salvation, yet the sacrament itself is undertaken by a characterthoroughly, intolerably out-of-place: Santa Claus. The striking heterodox nature of the protagonist is permanently negotiated between the dutiful performance of both text and ritual gestures, and the possible, parallel interpretations the work breaches. The video speaks of a confusion that Christianity itself staged and took advantage of, in its use of symbols of rejuvenation and promises of deliverance, and of the current, converse confusion where spiritual life is engulfed in a world of commerce that narrates, uses and performs religion, that constitutes the present via the future of financial credit and brings presents to good, submissive citizens. ‘Santa Claus’ articulates an economy of the soul, self and social body: one which we enact throughout the year, and in which Christmas is only the anticlimax.


Ciprian Muresan (b. 1977), lives and works in Cluj.