Ionuț Cioană (1980-2020) worked as an artist under the pseudonym Mircea Nicolae. In a rich and varied career as an artist, he also conceived curatorial formats that stretched institutional limits and was one of the most talented art critics of his generation. The aim of this exhibition is to bring this leading figure of contemporary art in Romania to public attention once more, through a curatorial project aimed at recuperating his artistic practice in an extensive way, with an emphasis on his interest in exploring the urban space and his meditation on the role of architecture in the configuration of subjectivities and historical narratives.
The exhibition is constructed around the work Romanian Kiosk Company, realised in 2010, which consists of a series of sculptures and a video which complements the sculptural installation. The starting point of the work is a number of key events in the artist’s personal life, connected to moments from the history of the communist and post-communist decades. Snatches from the biographies of family members are interwoven with a research methodology centred on investigating the typologies of urban street furniture and architecture that encapsulate the socio-political transformations of the recent past. With rigour and empathy, the artist examines the transition from the standardised typologies of street kiosks in the communist period to the exuberant vernacular of the 1990s, before the establishment of the present-day streamlined versions. The artist’s affective relationship with the city also materialises in another group of works wagering on fragility, improvisation, and ephemerality, which together articulate a constant of his career, from the interventions in the public space that generated the series a hundred and anything, anywhere, anytime to the later object installations such as An Altar for Each Day, Prosthetic for A Dry Plant and Prosthetic for A Broken Stone.
Ionuț Cioană (1980–2020) studied Literature at the University of Bucharest (1998-2002) and completed an M.A. in the Anthropology of the Sacred Space at the Ion Mincu Institute of Architecture and Urbanism (2002-2004). For his Ph.D. at the National University of the Arts, he was preparing a thesis on artistic work and freedom in the context of the Romanian arts scene between 1944 and 2010. In his artistic practice from 2006 to 2009, Mircea Nicolae developed a broad range of interventions in public and abandoned spaces. By means of anonymous gestures, these interventions aimed to examine the socio-political structure of the city of Bucharest, as well as the more private space of personal affective history. From 2010 to 2020, he produced a series of works showed in various contexts and venues, including Salonul de proiecte, Bucharest (2019); Ivan Gallery, Bucharest (2017); Electroputere Gallery, Craiova (2015); Vienna Biennale (2015); MUSAC, León (2012); Pinchuk Art Centre (2011) and 32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery, New Haven (2011). His work as a curator included the exhibition Mattis Teutsch. Avant-garde and Constructive Realism, held at the BRD Scena9 Residency, Bucharest, made in collaboration with Szilárd Miklós (2019), and as an art critic he regularly published texts on the Scena9 editorial platform from 2016 to 2020.