“The Vacaresti monastery, library and prison which was built in Bucharest between 1716 and 1722 by the king Nicolae Mavrocordat was demolished by communists in 1985 as many other churches and palaces, symbols of the past which were destroyed in those times. After the fall of the communist regime in Romania there were talks about reconstructing the monastery but nothing happened, not even marking in some way the former place of Vacaresti, very few people seem to remember the trauma. It’s like a whole community of people don’t have the ability to link with their own past. Now, where the monastery once existed, there are socialist ruins, a cheap market, a local community of people living in improvised housing, an empty lake and big empty spaces. We went there and tried to draw, map, using wooden sticks and wire, the shape of the church. None of us saw before the real monastery and church.
In the filmed performance ‘Vacaresti’, Florin Tudor traces, with string and small wooden sticks, the outline of the church from the Vacaresti Monastery in Bucharest, demolished by the communist regime in 1986. Retracing the shape of the lost building functions as symbolic recuperation and gains resonance in relation to current plans to build a commercial mall on the same site, situating the work between an unclear 'then’ and a problematic 'now’, pointing at loss and at the entropy that architecture 'constructs’ while it seeks to embody power, be it political or economic.
Another fact - the intention of the Romanian Orthodox Church to build a gigantic Cathedral of National Redemption -, completes the background against which this performance should be understood, endowing what may have seemed the working-out of mourning with a marked political poignancy. The size of the projected Cathedral is to a lesser extent the outcome of a local understanding of monumentality, but a perverse consequence of the gigantic abuses of communist architecture in Romania. By contrast, the artists’ performance presupposes a different understanding of the relevance of the church in contemporary Romania, suggesting that the effort to regain credibility should start elsewhere than in populist projects of mass redemption and derisory magnitude.
In spite of minimal means and understated tone, 'Vacaresti’ generates a ghostly counterpart, a doppelganger designed to harass or haunt the National Cathedral, exposing it permanently to its own disproportion and inadequacy. If the Cathedral aspires to become a monument, then the artists’ performance is its “nonument”.”
Text by Mihnea Mircan