Sunday, 1 November 2015

Hanging Out the Washing

Continuing my stately tour through this year's Frieze Masters, we arrive at the Bologna gallery P420, who were displayng the work of Anna Lunas.

Lunas lives in Cluj/Kolozsvar, and the work on display was made in the 1960s. Lunas belonged to an organisation called Atelier 35, which my Romanian friend tells me was formed in the 1970s, to promote artists under 35. Lunas is now 75 and, the gallerist told me, a very strong character, whatever that may mean.

I am always interested in textiles, as I do a lot of sewing and therefore feel an affinity, if that makes any kind of sense. I especially liked the enigmatic subversiveness I thought, (hoped?), I detected in  Lunas' pieces. Just as the film Stalker, (indeed all Tarkovsky's work), could not allude directly to the Soviet regime or any of its faults, so Lunas' work had to remain cryptic, I presume.

Of course, I may be over-interpreting. Possibly Lunas had no view at all about the regime in power. To me at least though, these works - all made in 1969 and all called Identity Shirt - seem to allude to prison uniforms, and thus to oppression:

This one, with its little markings to show "Village" and "City", reminds me, oddly, of paintings by Australian Indigenous artists:

- things like this one, for example, which is by Dorothy Napangandi and depicts the creation site at Mina Mina, where the ancestral women of the Karntakurlangu Women's Dreaming performed an important ceremony:

These works by Lunas again bring some similar Indigenous Australian paintings to mind, although I very much doubt she knew anything about such works:

The loveliness of the next three is very hard to capture in a photograph. The first is a coat for reaching heaven:
The one on the left is a coat for reaching purgatory and the one on the right is a coat for reaching the sun:
This photograph and the next one shows a piece of momentary art called Humid Installation, organised by Lunas in 1970, in which the villagers of Margau in Transylvania hung out their washing on a hillside. Given that the village is identified in the photograph as "Dorf Margau" it is possible it was a Saxon village and therefore a Ceaucescu target - although his plans came to nothing, he was eager, in his benevolent way, (yes, that is irony, don't worry), to raze many traditional villages, most particularly those of ethnic minorities, and provide "townhouse style accommodation" for his rural people instead. I hope Lunas was attempting to undermine such foolishness with this work:

In the next booth, coincidentally, Boris Michailov, a Ukrainian photographer working around the same time as Lunas, picked up the theme of washing hanging out to dry:


  1. Dear Zoë, I am so grateful that you have posted this photos 3 years ago. I am researching about Romanian art and indeed, there are few details or photographs about this particular artist. Her correct name is Ana Lupaș and she was an important figure in the local art institutions, shaping the ideas of new generations. She definitely had a strong opinion about the Communist regime, as her art works present a type of subtle protest against the abuse of political power that existed at the time. If you are still interested, you can find more details here: page 41

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and the links. I'm astonished that the gallery didn't actually spell their artist's name right. I'm sad to assume from what you say that she is no longer with us? I look forward to looking at the links