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  • Sasha Robert Bandi, Megan Dominescu, Matei Dumitriu, Luca Florian, Adela Giurgiu

    S L U G G I S H N E S S

    28.5.2024–13.7.2024 Prague Curated by Šimon Sýkora
    • text by Daniela Custrin (EN)

    Sluggishness

    The increasing "furry" and "fursona" trends, along with "therian" identifications, have garnered significant attention in Romanian media in the past few months. Headlines often describe how students are identifying as animals, coming to school in costumes, and even climbing stairs "on all fours, wearing ears and tails" . This phenomenon has increased on social media too, where girls participate in discussions about whether they identify as bunny pretty or deer pretty. This highlights the blend of well-known aesthetics of cuteness into a new nuance of vulnerability, moving more towards prey mode or preyness , where aestheticization meets the freeze response, and being petrified becomes a more common reaction when comes to specific information and stimuli these days.
    This nuance is different from Goblin mode, which was Oxford's word of the year in 2022, valorizing “behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”. Preyness, having inaction at its core, could be seen as building up a scenario that allows imagining coexistence and coevolution with other non-human entities in sluggish, eerie, muddy, nature-focused imagery. When it becomes a necessity to face planetary angst, communicating that you feel powerless and fearful on your own could be crucial. In the exhibition, I observed the artists' bond to this reflexive freeze, seen as a liturgically withdrawal into sleep, death, laugh, hybridization, or simply floating into emptiness as a way to deal with the noise of crisis, communicating a complex and ambiguous relation to fear and helplessness.
    The civilized world is rigid and hierarchical, characterized by structures of power, control, and rules.. The character in F.C BlACK MAGICK 666 – POSERS 0 (2023) is playing football with a sword in its hand, unwilling to adhere to the rules of the game, while also keeping the score, winning on his own terms. The scenes in the paintings confront the tension between societal stories and primal instincts, underscoring feelings of confusion and turmoil, while embodying a raw and untamed essence in his figures.
    Three rugs depicting three scenes. The landscape of Buzesti, a rat eating a hotdog and a radioactive chair cover. Megan Dominescu blends serious themes with elements of humor, prompting viewers to reflect on the complexities of life and the often surreal, absurd nature of human existence. The artist develops a complex discourse, liberating herself from the humanist ideal of ‘Man’, pushing the boundaries of communication and exploring the inner worlds of animals, factories, brands and objects. Her rugs ultimately find their place in locations where the target audience - humans - become comfortable enough to ask themselves what they just laughed so hard about. Similarly, since meme trends became common language, Matei Dumitriu finds inspiration in internet-based visual information found on mainstream websites, looking on intrinsic poetic quality found in random visual content. His works in the exhibition feature subjects with whimsical yet unsettling expressions, such as skeletons and blurry figures that are nervously, unstoppably grinning, as if caught in a freeze response to the absurdity of their situations.

    Adela's painting practice, described as an unceasing exploration and a meditative practice, parallels this theme of escapism. I remember Adela telling me about this scene in her painting that she encountered while walking in Bucharest: a child, oblivious to the chaos outside, laying asleep by a window. The painting captures this serenity not merely as the absence of disturbance, but rather as a profound recalling for the capacity of simply letting go, a characteristic often enigmatic of early childhood. Luca Florian, on the other hand, delves into creating voids that act as reflective retreats for his characters. His work represents a different form of escapism by placing the elements in some kind of voids, where he allows them to expand, glow, and lose their contours. Rather than serving as mere context, backgrounds are actively rejected or minimized in his compositions. This intentional omission redirects the viewer's focus onto the characters themselves, intensifying the emotional resonance and process of thought within their personal voids.

    Daniela Custrin