GRAY HORIZONS, 2011
installation: concrete, books, burned books, ash.
Having grown up in Romania under a communist regime that lasted over 50 years, I took note of the systematic destruction of Romania’s cultural values through the murders and persecutions of intellectuals, priests, and people ideologically opposed to the communist system. The destruction and censorship of books was also a great cultural loss. In Gray Horizons, I reflect on the suffering and destruction of people and books. Wanting to encapsulate all nations that suffered similar destinies, I did not limit my piece to only Romania but broadened my spectrum to cover a more universal message acknowledging the conflict of values between ideologies, evil versus good, and the notion of ego vs. anti-ego.
Part of the installation Gray Horizons, I constructed a lectern with dimensions of 1.5 meters (5.33 feet) high and approximately 2.75 meters (9 feet) in diameter. The concrete lectern has several books cemented to its front, which symbolize my over all theme of the suffering of both people and books at the hand of a dictatorship. These books represent only a small portion of heinous rulers such as: Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf), Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu (portrayed in Ion Mihai Pacepa's Red Horizons, The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu's crimes, lifestyle, corruption), as well as ideologists such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (The Communist Manifesto). Showing my Romanian background in the inclusion of Ion Mihai Pacepa’s book is significant for he was the ex director of the Romanian secret service during the harsh regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, and was the highest-ranking intelligence official to have defected from the communist block in 1978. He immigrated to the US and collaborated with the CIA in revealing secrets about the eastern block. The books cemented to the front of the lectern are in stark contrast to the charred ones on the ground.
My hope is that the viewer would find a personal attachment to the work and empathize with the suffering due to destruction of life and cultures seen in the remnants of books and that future would take cues from the past and not repeat it.