The works exhibited, ranging from an artists book in edition, to photography, video and sculpture, do not intend to propose their own identity as being works ‘of art’, but more as being works ‘of direct observation’. The materials Bratu chose to showcase, results of the artist’s research while travelling through Romania and China, are formalized, but not fundamentally altered. In this sense Bratu acknowledges the necessity of raw direct exposure as perhaps the only viable entrance to the fundamental critiques frequently and elusively addressed to governing systems.
The artists’ publication, which provides the exhibition with its title, and acts as the show's philosophical backbone, contains drawings, photography, and a crescendo series of essays authored by Bratu. The essays gradually zoom in on the nature of a perceived contemporary moral predicament, which could be summarized as: ‘we all know we need to act now, but we seem to systematically fail in doing anything at all’.
Bratu’s main question remains a presumably simple one, for the artist in the end just asks ‘why?’. This seemingly uncomplicated question however could not be effectively reached without a very carefully constructed journey though a variety of authors, concepts, and images, which serve to elucidate the reasons societies, governments, and individuals alike, seem incapable of deciding on a course of action, which would embrace and defend what Bratu proposes to be a course of ‘a basic human decency’.
The Dissidents Travel Guide stays true to its name: Bratu mimics travel guide logic, by briefly showcasing real life situations in an almost impartial way. At the same time the artist proposes the nature and core of dissidency to be reached through experience by close proximity, i.e. through a conscious documentary approach to a given context, which could perhaps serve as a catalyst to permanently altering perception and consecutively, action.
Tudor Bratu (1977, RO) graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2003. He pursued studies in Art History at the University of Amsterdam, and finished a two-year Research Residency at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in 2008. Since 2010 Bratu is the managing director of Bucharest AiR, an artists residency program located in Bucharest, Romania. From 2013 onwards Bratu collaborates with Chongqing Artists-in-Residency, an international residency program located in the city of Chongqing, China, as the programs artistic director.
Bratu’s works in photography, bookmaking and installation are part of various international collections, such as the Bibliotheque Kandinsky of the Centre Pompidou, the Amsterdam Photography Museum FOAM, the collection of the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten, and the Allard Jakobs Collection.
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