In RITE OF SPRING by the Romanian visual artists MONA VĂTĂMANU and FLORIN TUDOR the simple and poetic gesture of children starting small fires which burn the white poplar fluff implies a promise, the promise of renewal. Some of those in the film are street kids, some have a family, some not, some have a home, some are nomad, some just squat a derelict house without a roof. Sometimes, the mesmerizing play of children with fire eventually consume a tree, fire workers come and extinguish it, leaving the burned trunk as a black drawing on the sky.
MONA VĂTĂMANU (b. 1968, Constanța) and FLORIN TUDOR (b. 1974, Geneva) work together since 2000. In a practice that spans a variety of media—from installation to painting to photography to film—their work is dedicated to an exploration of the formal manifestations of and shifts in ideologies (be they communist or capitalist). The artists engage with the politics of memory in their examination of the material and symbolic remains of ideologies. Selected exhibitions include 52nd Venice Biennial, Romanian Pavilion; Exit Art Gallery, New York; Prague Biennale 3; SMART Project Space, Amsterdam; Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien, Berlin; Kunsthalle Basel; Westwerk, Hamburg; Play Gallery, Berlin; Associação Cultural Videobrasil, Sao Paulo; Cooper Gallery, Dundeee; Ludwig Museum, Budapest.
Venice Biennale 2011 / ISFF Oberhousen 2012 / Rencontres Internationales Paris-Madrid-Berlin (Centre Pompidou, Haus der Kultur der Welt Berlin, Spanish Cinemateque Madrid) 2011 / Museo de Arte Contempoeaneo de Castilla y Leon / PICA Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts / Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Bolzano etc.
"A yearly ritual performed by kids, outsiders of a system of automatic gestures repeated daily by one living in this world, a metaphor of the spark which sets on fire the existing order leading to a change. Those sparks and small fires we shot on film symbolically associate to many things - could be the fires in the French suburbs during the recent years “emeutes”, the perpetual evacuated, repatriated Rroma people through Europe, the antiwar protests on the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan around the globe, or this year uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East for the hope of a equal world. (MONA VĂTĂMANU & FLORIN TUDOR)
"MONA VĂTĂMANU AND FLORIN TUDOR'S video presented their normal voice of “social upheaval”, but with a whisper of hope. VĂTĂMANU and TUDOR drew inspiration from the riots and anti-war protest that have been happening all over the globe, from France to the Middle East. The fires they produce in these protest are meant for destruction, but the blaze from the lighters in their video produce excitement from the kids and pleasure from the viewer. These flames are supposed to represent a change in the world order, but maybe it better highlights the idea of rescue for all these world problems. Just watching the video slips one into a feeling of surrealism. Seeing the fluff burn so quickly and disappear so suddenly is shocking. It doesn’t seem real, or in real time at least, but the video is not sped up. A flash from the children’s lighter and it’s gone." (Crystal Zeller)