Issue #20, 2005

A Wall of One’s Own
Lívia Páldi

Ioana Nemeș: Monthly Evaluations / Me (October 2004), Dolores/Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam,

November 27, 2004 – January 8, 2005

Curator: Falke Pisano


“Our speculations made us both uncomfortable all day.” (Virginia Woolf)


Decided to have a day off and not to write today. Breaking this all the time leaves me with a massive feeling of guilt. I walk to the wall look­ing at the notes thinking what could have possibly gone wrong with our communication yester­day. Felt childishly upset, helpless and angry at the same time, now longing for a rewind to the point where all this could have been changed for good. We were just supposed to talk but every­thing went completely wrong before even starting. All the questions and possible conversations that kept whirling in my head stayed there closed off and what came out was simply silence and mumbling on your side and tendentious remarks from mine or was I just too pushy.

Expectancy without clarity.

Well, I suppose I have failed without even risking. I may have no sense of under­standing of how to get certain people to talk. Wish I stopped harass­ing myself on that topic though and be happy that today I can shift a note from TO DO to EXIT.

Note: Started in 2001 The Wall Project is a collage – of notes, sketches, photos and graphs – a work-in-progress, which has been the record of Ioana’s artistic activity and the attainment of her plans and desires for four years now. Wishing to control and analyze her own performance and efficiency, she created her own, symbolic space on the wall of the dining room in the small and cramped Bucharest flat she shared that time with her mother and brother. Beside being an object carrying (in)tangible living realities (the lack of a personal space) and psychological conditions the Wall became a bulletin board divided into “To Do” and “Exit” sec­tions. The right section had all the plans, ideas and dreams while the other on the left collected those done, accomplished and fulfilled. The idea was to keep the notes moving from right to left.

The “entries” reflect on self-development as well as play on competitive indivi­dual­ism, which most believe in and follow indisputably for personal gain and identity. It is not only an ongoing reportage telling about ad­vances and stagnation but as Ioana likes to select, arrange, classify, give marks and prizes (usually acting as the jury herself) gradually colours have appeared: blue for projects done, red for exhibi­tions made, green for media appearances, yellow for books read as well as the notes started to vary in size according to the importance of their content.

The wall irritates me and comforts me at the same time. I keep thinking and building it up in my head – a virtual station, a mobile room that travels with  me. The wall is my room, my privacy, my hide-out, my stop­over, my mobile institution. I am the wall.

Note: The Wall project also reflects a cyclical process, which spirals through time and diverse spaces building upon itself as if the circle re-encounters itself on a different level into some adequate vocab­ulary that isolation allows for but which puts the uniqueness of a given place and experience also into question.

Feel emptied out after yesterday’s massive three-hour discussion-session. How can I possibly go on with formulating, writing down notes or drawing diagrams if I cannot record the feeling I have after “accom­plishment”, the speed at which important visual and verbal details are leaving me. .What can I possibly glue to this bloody wall to extend my imagination. Should that be a photograph, a quote, the colours of Nik’s stockings or Gabi’s top, faces and their expressions. The flows of non-understanding, embarrassment, anger, helplessness, incompetency, and boredom, broken by waves of excite­ment, curiosity, then by stiffness and passive silence. How many people wore red. How did the constellation change. Who kept hiding and having private conversations on the fringes of the event enjoying free drinks and the illusion of being to­gether and sharing with an otherwise “non-existing” community. Somebody came to me and told me it was all very embarrassing, shame­ful .– she said. Well, psychotherapy does that to you I suppose. What to do with embarrassment. Ignore it. Acknowledge it. Up to you.

The wall imprisons me. I am caught in a devilish circle to produce and keep going on and now standing here in my dressing gown with a cup of coffee in my left hand shifting a note with my right hand to the left. The radio shouts from the other room, it is Sunday morning, the sun is sneaking in through those miserable curtains and sheds light on a photo I took ages ago and placed next to drawings we did with eyes closed left handed in the restaurant the night before: an elephant and a mouse to exercise and to replace words that we already had far too many of. These are the graphs of two-days of presen­tations and discussions as well reminders of those small glimpses of beauty that come as a bonus each time you feel thankful for getting even more confused.

Note: Beside supporting self-piloting and self-evaluation as well as improving her reflection, encour­aging and motivating Ioana has been building and using the “Wall diary” as a fantasy game of record­ing and archiving experiences. Her strategy has been a constant upgrading and re-contextualization with new sets of ideals replacing the old in a con­tinuous cycle.

It is an addictive system of accumulation of experiences and feedback that can pro­vide spirituality .and connectedness, a fragmented interface where she also confronts the questioning of the validity of the self-suf­ficient dialogue. Looking for meaning and concentration to create a foundation to work from the Wall also functions as a semi-virtual “docu­mentation room” or “work-lab” though in favour of narrative, anecdote and the guidance of a strong, abiding first person narrator who infuses her arguments with subtlety, curiosity and open-minded specu­lation. Her work also makes us con­front .the question of measuring validity and success. What models to follow what myths/strategies to rely on. How to set a standard for taste and desire. Can we create new methods for determining whether a work has accomplished its intent. Is the ritual valid. Is it worth repeating. Is it an empty, self-con­scious act, or is it inclusive.

Yes, I keep talking to myself sometimes even in the street. My head is so full after visiting the archive therefore I usually walk downhill to air my head so to say and to get back to “reality”. Funny that whenever I went there the sun was always shining.

Note: This ongoing dialogue – moving units from the right to the left – and analysis have been docu­mented by several photographs as well as a CD that contains her self-interview and the accompanying booklet (pro­duced for green box, an exhibition in Trafó Gallery in Budapest last year) not only to illus­trate and comment on the deve­lopment of the Wall, but also to help the viewer/listener understand  the formal and mental construc­tion of the project as well as her way of thinking ever since she stop­ped being a professional handball player at the age of 20.

Today I had to draw the graphs of this month. They look like funny broken waves of ups and downs, efficiently structured in Excel. Lately I started to use colours in a different way. I painted and pasted those rectangles on the wall with a date and a note. Shiny happy On Kawara, no press clippings just .a quote from myself to trigger thinking. And adding my doodles framed (hmm getting serious about exhibiting and the white cube) beside my graphs looking at the different pos­sibilities of making notes and recording.

Note: Monthly Evaluations / Me (October 2004), a deceptively abstract installation, a styled inventory that recycles her method of day-to-day self-evaluation for a month along with autobiographic docu­mentary, including the CD. A tiny diagram reporting the month she had spent in Amsterdam, doo­dles, dates picked accidentally and married with short comments appear either as a wall-painting like the bright blue “Virginia Woolf wall”, or as “images” printed on bright colourful surfaces and put behind framed glasses.

The Wall has grown into a different arrangement in the gallery space and has brought into play on a different level the diverse aspects of its complex nature – its existence as a structure, an interface, .a tool for keeping distance, an interactive memory game, as well as a virtual diary growing in her mind all the time. Her pre­sen­tation flirts with subtle refe­rences to radical painting and concept art as well as animates the rela­tion between describing, observing and recording. It offers a kind of balanc­ing act between self-created limitations, a focusing-in on things and the use of chance procedures and interchangeability. The grid pro­vides the armature for her obsession to both evoke and hide on the sur­faces of a small project space the transi­tory ephemeral circularity of days and their ambiguity, diversity, and multi-modality as well as traces of mental procedures. Improvisation and composition merge. So do streams of consciousness and the mimicry of mini­malist design. But does it offer a real opening up. Does feeding a communal process by inviting the audience to follow her mapping leave them with the need to parti­cipate in the formation of the imaginary. Wouldn’t the act of repetition that is essential to this ritual become an isolated gesture rather than a communal process.

During the month I spent in Amsterdam I kept reading all the books by Virginia Woolf enjoying the poetic buoyancy in the face of the everyday, her distilled personal wisdom; the humour and sadness of the minutely mundane; the intel­lectual game with observing and recording that is like a celebration, like play­ing chess alone.