Artists in Exhibition: When Virtual Reality Becomes Plastic Reality

Romania Literara (21)
Petre Tănăsoaica | 2014

At the first contact with Florica Prevenda’s works from AnnArt (1, Mahatma Gandi, corner with Kiseleff Road), I was equally surprised as the director of the gallery, Gabriela Massaci, who set herself the aim to introduce this artist to the Romanian public by adding her in the portfolio of the gallery. This would be a point of attraction especially because the artist evolved mostly on abroad and less in Romania. The surprise obviously consists of the rigorously composed plastic discourse of the entire exhibition (no matter from which point you start exploring it), although—I found out from the catalogue—this would be only a fragment from a larger project, “Facebook Obsession” that Aurelia Mocanu baptised for this representation with an extremely well inspired title: Facelook. In fact a pun upon words, related yet different, suggesting not only the communicational tool of socialization which tends to monopolize the entire world thirsty for information, conversation, controversies, polemics, elective and selective affinities, but also the transformed image that we present to the world when we go out. A problem seems to be solved from the very beginning, that is, the more and more simplified representation formula of the collocutors locked in the symbolic matrix that modernity has imprinted on art for more than a hundred years. We find again the self-portrait which does not announce by any means the solitude of the artist, but especially her presence in the process of communication because, however, we find neither the signs of weariness nor the circumstances of a meditation upon a theme. Nevertheless I notice that irrespective of which assertion I would make, a counterpoint immediately opens which does not necessarily come out of the change of the author’s mood, but out of the neutrality of laying down on canvas the features which sometimes dangerously ressemble—and I don’t necessarily say this in a negative way—the techniques used by commercial advertisements which minimize those traits so that the obtained neutrality, through a repetition of the motive, could push things towards the…recognizable abstract.
    From the catalogue of the exhibition I remember with pleasure the assertion made by Diana Ursan, the curator of the above mentioned art gallery, regarding the cycle “Facebook Obsession”: “Although the title can have negative connotations (a.n. we will bring up this aspect again), Prevenda casts a detached glance at the exploded phenomenon of the contemporary communication, accepting its production, propagation and development as inevitable consequences of the creativity and the inventiveness of human mind.” Maybe I should insist more upon the portrait in each work, because, after all, even if each participant in the virtual dialogue finds his bearings in his own account within the network, with the real or presumably real image, the imprint of the dialogue is personalized. Maybe the secret of Florica Prevenda’s entire approach lies in intuiting the virtual character and in reflecting his identity in the mirror of the work of art. It is obviously a route which got so much imbued with the reality of the crowds that rediscovering it in an ordinary face becomes almost an automatism celebrated however by its own uniqueness. Florica Prevenda’s works are pictures only as far as the common term could comprise them more or less within, because, as Aurelia Mocanu noticed, they are in fact some objects built through the mixed technique of collage, made of striated cardboard tilted at 30 degrees, assembled on the canvas in such a way as to obtain the desired optic effects (to the right or to the left). On the cuttings she subsequently applied —in order to hide its real identity—a paste which will later be covered with a certain colour so that the “flesh” of the drawing should become a relief which suggests scenarios and impressions. I dared—citing Diana Ursan—linger a little bit on the negative connotations of the obsessive Facebook, through which the virtual reality leads into captivity the contemporary man. Nevertheless I don’t think that Florica Prevenda takes as starting point this premise because on the mouths of the characters and on the syntheses of human profiles we cannot notice at all the tragic mark of pain—like it could be remarked on a series of works by Sanziana Fantanaru—but only the neutrality of an expression which configures the waiting and the concentration of the Other. As a matter of fact, on the face of a portrait she sticks the keyboard of a computer, with its letters and numbers, waiting for them to get into a certain order so that the meaning should come out, and therefore expressing the potentiality of communication just before a simple click. The faces are placed opposite each other and are made of striations of cardboard which give the impression of a pixelated map, while between them there hangs like a crucifix the dominating logo of the network invoked in the title of the exhibition. At other times, the face of the stranger dominates the projection of a far-away town or—as I have interpreted it—the geometrical crossing lines of some urban outlines drawn on a panoramic map made from above. When the reality becomes hot, the reddened face gets the passion of the news which intersect in the virtual space and which have been registered on tapes or in photocopies of the classic newspapers. Although the cheek of the contemporary human being is fissured by the informational networks, her face does not dissolve but, on the contrary, it gets a dominating conspicuousness upon them.
    Is man a simple stranger in the world of the new informational technologies? Yes and no at the same time, but mostly not because he never loses the human features, precisely because the artist uses drawing as a form of neutralisation of individual characteristics, obtaining in fact the contrary, that is the emphasis of his mystery. There is still much to discover in man as long as he doesn’t supress his curiosity. The bright or dull colours used by the artist have a delicate feminine expression and thanks to them the works of art become more and more simple guide marks in space which focus the attention, leading the eyes towards personal projections remained in each person’s memory thanks to drawings from childhood. If you don’t want to get into details, a thick plane on each work or on most of them can invoke the mask laid upon the face of the man who goes into the wide world and under which is hidden an identity which should be discovered. I should also mention the fact that at the exhibition from AnnArt, close to the works, on the floor, there have been scattered some colourful objects that the previously mentioned critics identified as human heads but which resemble much more the professional microphones in the radio studios. Here it is the other dimension of communication identified through the suggestion given by the objects-microphones, of intermediary among the portraits sheltered under the title of the exhibition: Facelook; taken out of its context, each work becomes independent so that the collectors can cut up the fragment of virtual reality and afterwards transfer it into their own plastic reality.

English version by: Marilena Dracea-Chelsoi