W@r aga1nst the F1lters:
After Francesco Cangiullo, Fumatori, fragment (1914) For some time, I have been captivated by a form of writing that has been captivating my email inbox.Dictionaries define spam as intrusive, internet-mediated advertising—a definition whose interest lies in its suggestion of how much non-intrusive advertising is already around us. Spam is not like this ambient advertising, of course. It is pure intent... What kind of relation, if any, can be intuited between the avant-garde radical reformers of literature and the arts and the no less radical spamming techniques of today?   Full text (continue)

Stenogram of the General Meeting of the Artists of the Union of Soviet Artists of Moldovia (15 May, 1951)
This stenogram was recorded at an artists' meeting that took place in 1951 in Kishinev (as the capital of today's Republic of Moldova was called in those days). The discussion among the members of the local Union of Artists—a new type of art organization that was implemented in Moldova after the advance of the Red Army westwards—revolves around the organization of their annual art exhibition of 1951. The text discloses some of the major issues and challenges faced by the members of this artist organization during the late St...   Links to Introduction (by Octavian Esanu) and Stenogram (continue)

A Lebanese rappel à l'ordre
A Lebanese rappel à l'ordre: Georges Daoud Corm (1896-1971) I Once there was a great empire. It was a spiritual empire, a moral kingdom whose subjects lived in contentment, peace and prosperity. Even though its greatness began in the distant past­­ – at the site of the sacrifice of the Son of their Lord – it saw its steadiest rise during one particular epoch called the “Renaissance”: a series of cultural movements that spread over several centuries across several realms (mostly in the Western part of this empire). It was during this Renaissance that this moral kingdom reac...) (continue)

Stuckism (A Conversation)
Stuckism (A Conversation) -- Abstract, and PDF (continue)

The Hemispheres and Continents of the Contemporary Global Art World
Hemispheres & Continents is the name of a new exhibition recently opened at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York City. On display there are sixteen photographs made by the English artist Darren Almond between 2002 and 2012. The stills were shot using long exposures at various times of day and night on all seven of our mother Earth’s continents and all four of her hemispheres. The artist set up his camera in darkness and renounced all technical control over it. The photographs are beautiful, as long-exposed pictures set in picturesque parts of the world can be. But there is m...)     (continue)

The Sailboats and Swans of postcommunism
The Andrea Meislin Gallery in New York City has put on display a photography exhibition by Michal Chelbin. The gallery’s press release indicates that Michal Chelbin’s latest body of photography was shot in seven prisons in the Ukraine and Russia over the past six years, and that the photographs explore what it means to be locked up and constantly watched... The title of the series—Sailboats and Swans—was inspired by the murals and wallpaper that the Israeli photographer saw in these Ukrainian and Russian prisons.* The  press release tells us more than this, of course, and so do...com/ (continue)

What Was Contemporary Art?
  This article contributes to a recent debate around the question “What Is Contemporary Art?” It brings into discussion certain key aspects of the activities of the Soros Centers for Contemporary Art (SCCA)—a network of contemporary art centers established by the Open Society Institute in Eastern Europe during the 1990s. The author draws upon distinctions between this new type of art institution and the Union of Artists (the organizations which represented the interests of artists under socialism), highlighting distinct artistic, aesthetic and economic characteristics of each inst... (continue)

On Artivism (In between Culture and Politics)
First published in Umelec International Vol.15, (2-2011)   I To be among those Moldovans (a word that even the Microsoft Office spell-checker does not want to recognize) who call themselves “contemporary artists” is at times an awkward experience – for what is today called “contemporary art” seems to avoid places that lack vibrant business, financial opportunities and markets, or at least abundant fossil fuel reserves. To be a Moldovan activist contemporary artist is even more difficult, and this is indeed a pity, especially after the “social turn” in contemporary ... (continue)

Les Ungovernables: The 2012 Triennial at the New Museum
The 2012 Triennial at the New Museum opened in mid-February under the name: “The Ungovernables.” One can presume that in choosing such a name, the curators Eungie Joo and Ryan Inouye may have alluded to some illustrious event of the past, to something like les refusés or les misérables – names which in the history of artistic and literary modernism have been used to express defiance and revolt on the part of those who have been rejected, ignored, or exploited. Today, in the age of positivism, they are referred to using numbers: “the 99 percent.” Some press reviewers have i... (continue)

Brody Condon’s Level5 at On Stellar Rays Gallery
On Stellar Rays gallery has put on display two video works by Brody Condon. The videos are projected on two separate walls of this dusky and cozy space. Upon your arrival you may discover that your gaze begins to wander from one wall to another, trying urgently to decide which of the two works you would like to watch first; then, your gaze will involuntarily stop inside the gallery office that corners these two walls acting as a mediator between these two projections. The videos address the same topic: group therapy, or to put it other terms, two ways in which contemporary Americans t... (continue)

A Postcard from Afar: North Korea from a Distance
Certain thinkers hold peculiar views about art, believing, for instance, that art is a domain of human activity where people deposit their views of what the world could have been if it weren’t what it already is. According to this view, artists show us what the reality around us would have looked like if our present had been shaped by different events in the past: if the Western world, for instance, had not been modernized, if there had never been an industrial revolution and if the Europeans had kept living in the Dark Ages of artisanal production and spiritual superstition; if...   (continue)

Contemporary Romantic Speculations on Janet Malcolm’s Collages
For a long period before the advance of Enlightened modernity, artists directed their gazes at a variety of objects, some visible but many more invisible – things that are not instantly accessible to the eyes. They were, in other words, things unreal, mystical, metaphysical, cosmological, things imagined. Sculptors sculpted and painters painted satyrs, pans, sirens, centaurs, angels, demons, unicorns and saints, representing for us imagined beings with whom the pre-modern mythological consciousness had populated the skie...   Octavian Esanu, Published in ArtExperience: NYC Winter 2012 (continue)

Brian Jungen’s Exhibition at the Casey Kaplan Gallery
Let’s discuss one common experience that we contemporary men and women all share. For example, what do we do when we attend an art exhibition – thinking in particular of the role in this experience of art critical or journalistic writing, how it serves us, and what might be the purpose of writing about art. Let’s say you have been planning for some time to see Brian Jungen's artworks (for instance, the ones which are now on display at Casey Kaplan Gallery). We will presume that you belong to that category of refined metropolitans who likes... 4   *Casey Kaplan Gallery Press Release (continue)

Matthew Barney’s Exhibition DJED in Chelsea
To be frank, I have always felt a certain indifference towards the art of Matthew Barney. He is not my type, so to speak, and at some point I even considered the possibility of turning down the editor’s request that I write about his recent show. But then I decided to give it a try – not in order to add my two cents to the large body of texts produced by his corporate and academic sponsors, but to try instead to figure out what has held me back for so long from his art. So in a way, this text is not only about Matthew Barney but also about my experience of his art; it is a short self-... (continue)

Francis Alys: The Modern Procession at PS1
Having been asked to contribute with a short review for Art Experience: New York City magazine I drove my Nissan Altima one Friday afternoon to MoMA PS1. I parked for free, which is relatively easy in Long Island City, and entered this former public school through a back door as its main entrance was closed for restoration. I stepped into Francis Alÿs’ exhibition entitled “A Story of Deception.” This unpoetic and mundane beginning is meant to suggest that I intend to write this short exhibition review by invoking the concept of “experience” – in both its aesthetic and ordi... 3 (continue)

Iconoclash in Chisinau: Wings versus Torches, or the Rock-Paper-Scissors Dialectics
Umelec Vol. 15 (1-2011) 1. Iconoclash in Eastern Europe.– For two decades many countries located in the Eastern and Southern parts of Europe have been caught in the midst of iconoclastic campaigns – a situation which may bring to mind the Western and Northern European 16th century Protestant Reformation.[1] In the more recent revolts, which were at their peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s, great masses of people discharged their pent-up energy by smashing certain symbols of the past that stood in their way. Much as in the 16th century, the wave of anti-communist idolatry bega... (continue)

Waiting (fiction)
When I was three years old, I lived with the grandmother and her mother. At noon we sat in front of the window and watched villagers going to “catch the 12 o’clock train.” All three of us followed each silhouette as it traversed the window glass mounted in a chunky wooden frame. When the figure disappeared behind the last molding of the frame my two old mothers began to speak. They discussed the village news, drawing inferences from the information collected from the surface of the glass. “Where would Maria travel today? Would she go to the city ...   Octavian Esanu, 2007   (continue)

ETA (fiction)
“Google buys “E:” the alphabet deal complete!” announced the headlines. The Wall Street Journal displayed this piece of news yesterday at the very top of their main page, over an optimistic yellow background surrounded by various economic and financial indexes that spoke a mysterious language of numbers and symbols. The journal talked about the benefits of privatization of the alphabet, bringing sound evidence from Chile and Slovakia – two countries that have been at the forefront of (their own) alphabetic privatization. In spite of the fact that the new theory was elabora... (continue)

The Agraphia Survey (Hyperlinked Collage)
"The Agraphia Survey" is an interactive collage of sentences collected from Google Books. Please press on the hyperlinked footnotes.   – I can’t write because I don’t have a pen. [1] – Okay. Next! – I can’t write because I don’t have any time to write. [2] – Next! – I can’t write because I’ve always so much to say. [3] – Number 4! – I can’t write because my head is so bad. [4] – Okay. – I can’t write because I have no hand to write. [5] – Okay. – I can’t write because I fear writing will reduce the welcomed distance between me and my fe... (continue)

[ðı:] [ˌmetǝ ́mɔ:fǝsis] (critofiction)
Alternative title: The Metamorphosis “Вода!” [  ́wɔ:tǝ]! [aıˈm] [ˈθǝ:stı]. [aı] [mʌst] [luk] [fɔ:]… [aı] [mʌst] [faınd] [ˈwɔ:tǝ]. [nau]. [ı ˈnʌf] [ɔv] [ˈwʌndǝrıŋ] [ǝˈraund] [laık] [eı] [kæt] [ın] [ðı:] [reın]. [ˈɔ:lsou] [fu:d]. [ænd] [wɛǝ] [wud] [ðæt] [dæmd] [ˈkıtʃın] [bı:]? Lorant was crawling through the cold darkness of the concrete slab when he noticed a dim spot of light that broke through an aperture in the flooring. He waved his antennas quickly as if trying to feel the text... [6] AM Jacquard Systems [7] Antrol (continue)

The Speech (critofiction)
In this text – assembled from fragments of speeches delivered by the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev – I replaced words and phrases that have been native to a particular ideological discourse. For instance the word “comrade” was substituted with “Ladies and Gentlemen,” “socialism” with “capitalism,” and so forth. The original sources are to be found in this footnote.[1]       The Speech(from the series “Historical Leaders Edited by Contemporary History)   Dear comrades, friends and brothers, Ladies and Gentlemen, An analysis of the world situation of the ear... (continue)

Contact me ASAP (critofiction)
From: Ion_creanga@aol.comTo: undisclosed-recipients;Subject: CONTACT ME ASAPReply-To: info@contimporary.org Dear Mr.Please permit to introduce my humble self to you. I am Mr. Ioan Creanga, the Director of foreign remittance department of the Central Internet Café of Bugeac. I 'm 41yrs old and I got your email address on the Chambers of Commerce address list and my confidence reposed on you to contact you. I hope you read my letter Carefully and reply me immediately, and although we have not met before but I suggest that this message will bring us together. What I am about to re...52″E (continue)

Vladimir Sorokin "In Transit" (translation)
– Well, on the whole, comrades, your district performed well during this year – Georgii Ivanovich smiled, leaning slightly backward – this is what I was instructed to tell you. – Those sitting at the long desk smiled in response, exchanging glances among themselves. Georgii Ivanovich wagged his head and threw up his hands: – When everything is well, comrades, then it is indeed well, and when it’s bad, then why take offense. Last year you were too late with the sowing campaign, your factory did not complete the plan, and the sports comple...   Translated by Octavian Esanu, 2007 (continue)

Malevich’s Passage: A Painterly and Poetic Sdvigology (seminar paper)
  I(Introduction) This text records the journey of one word. This word is passage, known in the discipline of art history as a painterly device used to analyze Cézanne’s late work, as well as to discuss the master of Aix’s influence on the French cubists. In this paper I follow passage from France, where this word emerged in the writings of some painters from Cézanne’s entourage, to Russia, where the term surfaced in the writings of the leading avant-garde painters and poets. My hypothesis is that after Cézanne’s passage reached Moscow, wher... 35   Octavian Esanu 2004 (continue)

Kant’s Metaphysical Deduction (Seminar Paper)
    Formalism or Functionalism; Kant’s Metaphysical Deduction(paper written for a philosophy seminar at Duke University) To what extent is the “formalist” label attached to Kant’s thought relevant in regard to his Critique of Pure Reason?  Charges of ‘formalism’ were advanced ever since the first Critique was published and over the centuries the arguments varied according to the methods of those who address them.  For Hegel, the author of the Critique abstracted experience from ... 27   Octavian Esanu, 2006 (continue)

O plimbare prin piata centrala din Chisinau, (romanian)
– Piața Centrală a Consiliului Municipiului Chișinău. Bine Ați Venit! Добро пожалoвать! Welcome! – Confecționarea cheilor! – Vizitați magazinul nostru! Avem reduceri la aur și argint 25%! Посетите наш магазин! Скидки на золото и серевро 25%! – …Alo? Olea? Azi ce dată-i fa? – 25? – Da… – Pașapoarte, buletine de identitate, de naștere! Carnete de elev! Diplome de studii superioare! Adeverințe de naștere! Car... Și unde ne ducem acuma? Acasă! [26] Cînd îti sosește supervisor-ul? În august… (continue)

Iconoclash in Chisinau: aripi contra torţe, (romainian)
  I. Iconoclash în Europa de Est Timp de două decenii, multe din ţările din estul şi sudul Europei au fost prinse in vârtejul campaniilor iconoclaste – situaţie ce reaminteşte Reforma Protestantă a secolului al XVI-lea din vestul şi nordul Europei. În revoltele mai recente, ce au atins apogeul la sfârşitul anilor '80 şi începutul anilor '90, mari mase de oameni şi-au descărcat tensiunea acumulată desfiinţând anumite simboluri ale trecutului care le stăteau în cale. Aproape la fel ca în secolul al XVI-lea, valul de idolatrie anticomunistă a încep... (continue)