THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF MEMORY - BOOKS OF EARTH AND FIRE

Liling Valley Ceramics Museum, Liling, China, 2016-2017

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Brâncoveanu Palace Cultural Center, Mogoșoaia, Romania, 2016

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Galateea Contemporary, Bucharest, Romania, 2016

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National Art Museum of Moldova, Chișinău, Republic of Moldova, 2016

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Museum of Art, Arad, Romania, 2016

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Brukenthal National Museum of Contemporary Art, Sibiu, Romania, 2015-2016

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"The installations from the Series The Archaeology of Memory: Books of Earth and Fire have been comprised of ceramic books (terracotta, stoneware and porcelain) and various forms of clay or soil (dry or wet). The idea of the project represents culture as the foundation of civilization, symbolized by the use of fired and un-fired clay in the construction of an archaeological site in the likeness of an archetypal library of ceramic books.

I have chosen to reference books because they are historic symbols of knowledge and collective memory. The books from the Archaeology of Memory Series are symbolically left unwritten to suggest the absence, forgetting and to inspire the viewer to imagine what they may contain. Books are symbols, instruments of memory. From the beginning of history, there has been a strong connection between words and clay, as early forms of writing were on clay tablets.        

The notion of historic time and permanence, apparent in the ceramic books, appears in contrast with the fragility of culture and knowledge. In the historical context of the 20th century when ideological and totalitarian systems have led to the mass-destruction of books considered reactionary, the installation brings to attention the human need to save the past through an archaeology of memory.       

Ceramics is the medium that I predominantly use because clay represents the element that, on a metaphorical level, embodies the most dynamic qualities of life and nature through the transformations it undergoes, from volcanic eruptions to the erosion of mountains. The creative process of working with clay, from the making to the firing, is alchemical in its transformational nature.

The books that I produced in Romania were made of local terracotta clays that I dug from around the north of Bucharest and which I later fired in traditional Romanian kilns from Potigrafu and Piscu by using wood and horse manure for combustion. The communities of potters from Piscu and Potigrafu have been in constant decline in the past 27 years, hundreds of potters abandoning this craft after 1990. It is an inspiring experience to participate in the process of reviving lost traditions. The stoneware and porcelain books were made in Jingdezhen, part of a residency at the Jingdezhen Asia Europe America Ceramics and Glass Center, Jiangxi province, China sponsored by the Liling Valley Museum, Hunan province, China as part of The Mode International Invitational Ceramics Exhibition. I combined stoneware and porcelain, used rust and iron oxide on the porcelain, worked in a free way to create fluid and expressive works, and fired the works in reduction atmosphere to record the effect of slow reduction flames onto the works."                                                                                                                                             Vlad Basarab

 

The installations from the Series The Archaeology of Memory: Books of Earth and Fire have been presented in various stages at various venues.

Solo shows: 2017: Libris Book Fair, Brașov, Romania; 2016: Galateea Contemporary Art, Bucharest, Romania; The National Library of Romania, Bucharest; National Art Museum of Moldova, Chișinău, Republic of Moldova; The Museum of Art, Arad, Romania; 2015 – 2016, Brukenthal National Contemporary Art Museum, Sibiu, Romania;  2015: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts; The Romanian Cultural Institute, New York; 2013: Paul Mesaros Gallery, Creative Arts Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown.

Other participations with the Series The Archaeology of Memory in distinguished international and national exhibitions: in 2017: Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale 2017 (Honorary mention), Icheon World Ceramic Center, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea; The 4th "Hong Guang Zi Qi" International Ceramic Art Festival, Kai Hong Tang Art Museum, Yixing, China; I feel, I see, I hear, The Brâncoveanu Palaces Cultural Center, Mogoșoaia, Romania; Incandescent Metaphors, Arcade 24, Bistrița Năsăud and Art Nuveau, Târgu Mureș, Romania; 2016: The Mode-International Ceramics Art invitational Exhibition in Liling Ceramics Valley Museum, China; EIBAB European International Book Art Biennale 2016, Goa India; Coast to Coast, an Invitational exhibition of North-American Ceramics Artists, The Brâncoveanu Palaces Cultural Center, Mogoșoaia, Romania; Arts in Bucharest, Amzei Square Market, Bucharest, Romania; Facets of Hyper-connectivityRomanian Cultural Institute, Berlin, Germany; 2015: NCECA 2015 International Biennial,Providence, Rhode Island; European International Book Art in Bucharest, Romania; X Libris e-story, Museum of Art, Arad, Romania; Book Expo America, New York, USA; International Ceramics Biennial Cluj, Romanian Ceramists Exhibition, Cluj, Romania; European International Book Art Biannual, Bucharest, Romania; NCECA 2015 Biennial, David Bell Gallery, Providence, Rhode Island; Hugh, International Gallery of Contemporary Art, Anchorage; Facets of Hyperconnectivity, The Brâncoveanu Palace, Mogoșoaia, Romania; Rhythm Repetition Ritual (Best of Show), Pottery Northwest, Seattle, Washington; Invisible Cities: Art as a Political Subtlety in Central/ Eastern Europe, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Re-animation II, The Brâncoveanu Palaces, Mogoșoaia; 2014: British Flute Society Convention; NEURON, Galeria IX, Bucharest, Romania; Exchange / 2014 Berlin Fulbright Grantee Juried Exhibition, Staycation Museum, Germany; Romanian Atheneum, Bucharest; International Biennial of Visual Arts “August in Art”, Varna, Bulgaria; Videoholica International Video Festival, Varna, Bulgaria 2013: The International Ceramics Biennale, Cluj, Romania; Earth Moves: Shifts in Ceramic Art and Design, Arvada, Colorado; Fifth International Artists' Book Exhibition at the King St. Stephen Museum, Székesfehérvár, Hungary; 2013 Cluj International Ceramics Biennale, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Eminescu: Book/object exhibition. National Library of Romania, Bucharest; in 2012: Project Spaces, NCECA, Seattle, Washington; Decorative Arts Biennial, Bucharest; Romanian Contemporary Ceramics/ Ceramica 2012, Galeria Orizont, Bucharest, Romania; Juried Exhibition, West Virginia University, Morgantown; Arts in Bucharest, National Library of Romania, Bucharest; Rarefied Light, Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, Alaska; Decorative Arts Biennial, Constantin Brâncuși Hall, Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, Romania; Homegrown, Artist Image Resource Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; in 2011: Shared Journeys China West Virginia Conference, Zen Clay Gallery, Morgantown.