An artistic exploration into disabilities


Curator: Cristian Neagoe

Artists: Mihai Barabancea,Paul Dunca & Virginia Lupu,Cosmin Manolescu,Ivana Mladenović,Monotremu,Mircea Topoleanu

MNAC Coordinator:Adriana Oprea

Designer:Ciprian N. Isac



Partners: Asociația Tandem, ScentAir, AMAis


July 7—October 6, 2016

MNAC — National Museum of Contemporary Arts, Floor 3, Parliament Palace, Wing E4, Entrance on Calea 13 Septembrie, Bucharest, Romania


Opening in the presence of Corina Șuteu (Minister of Culture), Călin Dan (MNAC Director), Mircea Toma (ActiveWatch President)


The exhibition 'Normality, Such a Brutal Word!' is an artistic exploration into disabilities, where visual arts are accessible to those who cannot see, and dance becomes possible for people without motor skills.

The exhibition includes new artworks from Mihai Barabancea, Paul Dunca & Virginia Lupu, Cosmin Manolescu, Ivana Mladenović, Monotremu, Mircea Topoleanu, all artists with a wide experience of collaborating with people from the margins of society.

The exhibition emerges from the concept that normality and abnormality are expressions of power which open divisions between people. What kind of world would we live in if people with disabilities would be a majority, not a peripheral, almost invisible minority? Where would works of art be hung in an exhibition — at the eye level of a standing visitor or of one whose mobility and perspective depended on a wheelchair? How would you present works of art to people with different degrees of sight impairment? What if strange voices would jam your thoughts, commanding you to do certain things or making your presence absurd?

“Disability is the inability to see ability,” said Vikas Khanna. Disability is a relationship between individuals and their social environment. In society today, people with disabilities are exposed to an experience of living in their own bodies as though it were a physically controlled reality, owned and abused by others. To have a disability is to suffer two simultaneous injustices: not only a phantom life, but also overexposure at the moment of entering a public space.

The exhibition 'Normality, Such a Brutal Word!' searches for signs and representations of a punitive society, as described by Michel Foucault in 'Abnormal', impressions of the way our definition of “normality” and of that which is (ab)normal become prerogatives of the power games which we face daily in contemporary society.

The exhibition offers an immersive experience in the world of private senses and of distinct skills. Visitors will have the chance to test out the perspective of sensory deprivation in guided tours organized by the Association of Alternative Methods of Social Integration. For groups of visitors with disabilities, guided tours are organized with the support of Tandem Association. Your olfactory experiences are provided by the generosity of ScentAir. The entire exhibition is accessible to visitors with motor, sensory or mental disabilities.


Mihai Barabancea, 'Brutal', 2016, photographic installation

(+ Cristiana Costin, tactile sketches)

How does a blind person perceive beauty?, asks photographer Mihai Barabancea. How can he or she understand abstract art? How can one represent to a blind person a feeling in the form of an image? How can one, in images, represent philosophical concepts in connection with the visual universe that other people take for granted? The artist has accompanied seven people with sight deficiencies on journeys to places which their emotional memory recalls as important, and then helped them to represent this experience in their own images and photographs.


Paul Dunca & Virginia Lupu, 'Birthday Room', 2016, installation, video, performance

The choreographer and performer Paul Dunca together with the visual artists Virginia Lupu document parties and anniversaries in communities of people with disabilities (the blind, hard of hearing, those with mental or motor skill deficiencies), and reconstruct these events in visuals and performance. The documentation of these events continues throughout the period of the exhibition, with Birthday Room becoming a laboratory of celebrations.

"Birthday Room" Parties at MNAC, 3rd Floor:

July 7, 7.30pm-9pm

September 11, 7pm-9pm

September 25, 7pm-9pm

October 6, 7pm-9pm


Cosmin Manolescu, 'Rolling_Dance', 2016, contemporary dance, video

Wheelchair contemporary dance workshops for visitors of the exhibition (those with and without disabilities) where they can explore a few simple concepts linked to movement, time and space. Visitors can discover the universe of contemporary dance and a play relational games from the perspective of a person who uses a wheelchair.

Workshops at MNAC, 3rd floor:

July 7, 7pm – 8pm

July 17, 12pm – 1pm

August 7, 12pm – 1pm

August 14, 12pm – 1pm


Ivana Mladenović, 'Biology Class', 2016, video

Film director Ivana Mladenović presents a cinematographic homage to Johan van der Keuken, one of the most well-regarded documentary film-makers of all time, who made a short film Herman Slobbe/Blind Child 2 in 1966. The artist has followed and documented a few days in the lives of Romanian blind children confronted with a world concentrated on visual experience. This film will also be presented by ActiveWatch in 50 schools in Romania.

Monotremu, 'I Like Romania and Romania Likes Me', 2016, performance, video

"I Like America and America Likes Me" is an iconic performance in which Joseph Beuys spent three days in an American art gallery together with a wild coyote, in a therapeutic process to resolve personal and collective trauma. In this homage by Monotremu, the coyote is a stray dog from Romania with physical disabilities and, in this case, the animal is interacting not with a professional performer, but with the visitors to the museum. This will take place for three days from the opening of the exhibition.

Monotremu performance at MNAC, 3rd Floor and others:

July 7, 7pm-8pm

July 8, 10am-6pm

July 9, 10am-6pm

October 6, 10am-6pm

Mircea Topoleanu, 'Normality', 2016, installation

The artist Mircea Topoleanu has created a climbing panel in which the hand holds are arranged to form the word NORMALITY written in the Braille alphabet. Is normality an obstacle to be escalated? Or a means of overcoming the limited vision of normality which contemporary society assumes?

Raluca Ilaria Demetrescu (invited artist), "The Massaged Eye", 2016, performance

I am an artist and a hedonist, dedicated to small pleasures, among which massage. Inverting roles, I propose, to offer a massage to a blind person — professional masseur himself. My gesture is a form of social critique and a (self) irony, as I myself am part of the same society working with rules that I accept without thinking too much about them.

Performance: September 25, 7pm-7:30pm


Cristian Neagoe (curator) coordinated the communication strategy for 'Darwin’s Room' by Adrian Ghenie, an exhibition which represented Romania at the Venice Biennale in 2015. In 2008 he organized in New York one of the most controversial Romanian exhibitions of the last decade, "Freedom for Lazy People", inviting Romanian street artists to represent the realities of a New York filtered through the Romanian underground and exposing works which would become emblematic of the conflict between Romania’s traditionalism and contemporary art, among which the so-called 'Pink Pony'. Since 2006 he has been co-founder and organizer of Street Delivery, one of the most well-regarded festivals of art, urbanism and civic experimentation in Romania. He is interested in marginal aspects, mystifications and „deviancies” of contemporary culture.

ActiveWatch is a human rights organization which campaigns for free communication in the public interest. Through its Anti-discrimination Department, the organization has been active since 2004 in the struggle for combating social inequality, racism, discrimination and intolerance, promoting the rights of people with disabilities and of those belonging to ethnic minorities, and to other vulnerable groups in Romania.

ActiveWatch / CC BY 3.0