What follows is the middle of a recent conversation between Norwegian temporary art consultants Tilbud & Tilbake (T) and former contemporary artist Ron Sluik (S) who is currently active as the disposable curator of Natland SB concept Galleri Bergen, Norway.
T: So you are saying RUGINA is not just some other cool place behind the curtains but an actual global cultural heritage site?
S: Exactly, and I would even go further than that: let someone immediately call UNESCO to put it on the list for the next decision round. This is one of a kind. There is not a similar thing in a circle of a thousand kilometers around Bessarabia!
T: you are, as usual, exaggerating. Give us some clarity, facts, your facts to start with.
S: It is minimum twelve years ago I first visited the sight and I continued going countless times in the years I lived in that City. I would take the odd visiting foreigner to the place just to see their mouth drop, ha ha! Something like: look what we have got in our town! You did not think we would, do you?
T: Sounds kind of… kind of self appropriating and a claiming attitude…
S: Well, that is what it SHOULD be. That is what good work does to you: it actually becomes a part of you. It is yours. You do not want somebody to touch or hurt it because that hurts you individually and that is exactly the case here.
T: describe in your own words what we have not seen ourselves.
S: It is a park of monuments. It was created in the mid eighties by two artists: Ischimschi and Moscov. They collected metal scrap, rusty leftovers and disposed manufactured ready mades in the surrounding area of their ateliers. Transported it from discovery point homewards by bike as far as I know… and they welded it all together like a united Ion and Ivan Tingueley and probably in a tempo like David Smith made the Voltri sculptures! I doubt actually if they had any knowledge about these Western brothers in arms while they were on the job and that even makes it more genuine and precious to keep. Now they are the witnesses of a past era, a warning and in the mean time a garden of contemplation…. Did I mention arte povera?
T: Sorry for interrupting but… where is it?
S: Chisinau, the Moldovan Capital Chisinau, in the Sculeni district, a little hidden and on the edge of the town. Must have been a free haven in sovietic days like Christiania in Kopenhagen. At least 15 artists had their studios there in some old storagehouse annex factorybuilding. What the two created was exposed in the frontyard. No budget for transport, no buyer or keeper elsewhere and so organically a whole collection of huge objects appeared and formed together this island of discoveries. As far as I am told the works had a political load, a hint of rebellion against the state. Some of the sculptures where real mean machines with moving mecanics and throbbing gristling sounds. I have not seen them work however: the weather and years had already prevented those extra pleasures when I first encountered them.
T: you are pulling our leg.
T: So what is now the problem?
S: Free market economy and the greedy part of progress. Artist Moscov left with family the country years ago. Architect Ischimschi stayed behind to look after the ships. His neighbours in the complex also moved… not geographically but mentally, and started to claim their grounds, put up fences, buy their stake and harass the ones not willing to embrace the new world. So, the park has to go now and is already partly wounded.
S: Is it too much to ask? Some concerned people in Moldova are now working on a petition. I like to share their concern. I ask you to do the same. I am not kidding when I say: National Heritage. If I were the Mayor of Chisinau or the President of Moldova I would know: deprivatizise the whole area and make it into some meeting point of awareness and pride. A centre for comtemplation the fragile future. Tear down the fences and stop the expanding dirt of cheap art. Get rid off that commerce and ignorance. Wake up and protect what really has value. Do not keep the place for yourself but open it up and bring the youth to see and feel proud of such beauty instead of hiding it for the selected few. Thousands should follow the paths to these true statues of liberty! Art might not solve all trouble ahead but is certainly a doorway to better times and RUGINA is one of those keys to open that particular door!
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