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Trans(a)gressive Millennium

Artist: Tara (von Neudorf)

Curator: Diana Dochia

15.01.2011 – 27.03.2011

Opening: 15.01.2011 at 4:00 pm

Trans(a)gressiv Art

A quote from Hegel lends itself as a valid point of departure for introducing the art of Tara (von Neudorf): “The work of art has not such a naive self-centred being, but is essentially a question, an address to the responsive heart, an appeal to affections and to minds.”1 Thus we could say that each work of art is a dialogue onto itself: a dialogue with its spectator.

Tara (von Neudorf)’s work spans ten years. The Romanian artist, notorious for the uncompromising presentation of social and political turmoil, was born in 1974 in a Transylvanian village in Maros County. He graduated from the Cluj-Napoca Art and Design University as a graphics major with the project entitled Endlösung (2003); and enrolled a masters course in painting in the same institute, which he completed with the work About the Idea of Evil in Romania with Examples (2006). Since his first exhibitions Tara (von Neudorf) has proved the representative of an art loaded with multilayered socio-political meaning. He has participated in enormous shows presenting several hundreds of works, which most often than not induced the sensation of horror vacui in him. In Tara (von Neudorf)’s hands the showroom turns into a place that is just about to burst into flames. Oft-censured due to his works and themes much debated by some critics and loved by others, his pictures communicate a protest against the mundane – they emerge as an expression of possibilities, since, to paraphrase art historian David

Freedberg, “by refusing its dangers, censorship takes away art’s possibilities.”2

Tara (von Neudorf)’s works have to do with the concept of transgressive art, a type of art that opposes and violates the notions of morality and sensitivity. According to Hegel, transgression is born in the “immensurable realm of individual works of art,”3 and Anthony Julius concurs in asserting that it is the visual arts that most intensely utilize transgression. Contemporary art is dominated by the great variety of art forms, and there are no unequivocal requirements for creating and judging a work of art. Aesthetics and anti-aesthetics exist side by side. “Transgressive art is an art of the subversive exception made the rule.”4 The problem of transgression has been addressed in the work of authors and thinkers Michel Foucault, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Georges Bataille, among others. In Foucault’s interpretation, “[t]ransgression is an action that involves the limit . . . . The play of limits and transgression seems to be regulated by a simple obstinacy: transgression incessantly crosses and recrosses a line that closes up behind it in a wave of extremely short duration, and thus it is made to return once more to the horizon of the uncrossable. . . . Transgression does not seek to oppose one thing to another, nor does it achieve its purpose through mockery or by upsetting the solidity of foundations; it does not transform the other side of the mirror, beyond an invisible and uncrossable line, into a glittering expanse. . . . Transgression contains nothing negative.”5 In the wake of Nietzsche and Bataille, Foucault is concerned with transcending the limits of reason, with the possibilities of transgressive irrationality in art.

Tara (von Neudorf)’s art often focuses on a conflict, conflict as the means of expression of a certain will, be it political, economic, religious, or social in nature. The artist incorporates into his work all that exists in people’s behaviours, memories, fantasies, or nightmares, reflecting the world as it really is, in an organic and many – coloured way. The accumulation of symbols, the simplification of shapes, the use and reuse of unconventional materials yield an abject, parasitical, almost necrophagous, aspect of human life.

Tara (von Neudorf)’s art presents the vision of a sanguine and visceral universe in which events are not recorded according to conventional human chronology but rather through the concentration of several centuries’ routine, as if all of it – agony and ecstasy, crime and punishment, faith and blasphemy – existed in one and the same instant.

As an artist, Tara (von Neudorf) obliges himself to take up a position in relation to the system and society in which he lives. As Marshall McLuhan formulated it, the world became a village, and the appearance of new technologies has resulted in an intensified flow of information, which leads to even more vigorous globalization. American artist Leon Golub warns that “the new communication empires do not respect national or conceptual boundaries.”6 Tara lives in this global world, which he depicts in his graphics both comically and furiously, showing life in all its contradictions�similarly to Foucault, who talks about “‘transversal’ struggles . . . not limited to one country,”7 one political regime, or economic system.

Tara (von Neudorf)’s art inspires the spectator to radically review all prejudgments against divine and human nature. We may feel as if we were reading Salman Rushdie’s rich and saturated texts evocative of medieval tapestries. Tara the brilliant artist is at the same time an imitator of his own work; he is a perfect critic but still refuses to become one; he is an extremely ambivalent artist not prepared to identify with anyone else. He carries out his invisible schemes in an impeccable style. Tara’s work requires an implicit spectator; not a mere viewer, but a paradox re-viewer: someone that feels the need to view the work over again and to experience something different on each occasion – an experience more elaborate and more startling than before.

Trans(a)gressive Millennium is a continuous dialogue about the world we live in and our place therein. Arthur Danto contends that “art, through its own development, reached a stage where it contributed to the internal development of human thought in achieving an understanding of its own historical essence. . . . it is a transformation of thought that art made happen.”8 Foucault in an article entitled “What is Enlightenment?” – on Kant’s response to the question on hand, which was published in Berlinische Monatsschrift in November 1784�stresses that “Kant in fact describes Enlightenment as the moment when humanity is going to put its own reason to use, without subjecting itself to any authority; now it is precisely at this moment that the critique is necessary, since its role is that of defining the conditions under which the use of reason is legitimate in order to determine what can be known, what must be done, and what may be hoped.”9 Edgar Wind in Art and Anarchy argues that art possesses a power that can, if not eradicate, at least oppose the state. In Gilles Deleuze’s view, “to create is to be free,” while Foucault believes that “to doubt something means to get to the innermost center of emptiness, where the human agent may reach her own limits and where the limits may represent the human agent herself.”

Tara (von Neudorf) turns everything into art, making use of every thing he finds: old maps, forgotten school cartons and pictorial displays, even objects lost and found; he uses and reuses animal bones, small numbered wood panels, pieces of iron, old bolts and other curios. In an interview Tara declared: “I am inspired by all sorts of things; yet, at the same time, by nothing.”

Tara gets down to work to transform the universe “at a time when others are asleep,” to quote Baudelaire. Transformation does not, of course, equal the annihilation of reality but is a cumbersome game between the truth of reality and the practice of freedom: something “natural” becomes “more than natural,” something “beautiful . . . more than beautiful,” and a “strange” work becomes “endowed with an impulsive life like the soul of its creator.”10

A map becomes a means, a list of events, both the basis of and the link with destiny, story, history. Placing the graphic upon the pre-existing surface of the map epitomizes Tara’s ideas about the given territory. As Gilles Deleuze and F�lix Guattari assert, “[t]he map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation.”11

A world in the grip of wars, bombs, lies, assaults, robbery, blood, assassination, and terrorism. The map becomes a highly mediated theater of war, telling stories about the victim and the aggressor, the filthy, defiled world, a world submerged in hatred and odium.

Pablo Picasso famously said: “I did not paint the war because I am not one of those artists who go looking for a subject like a photographer, but there is no doubt that the war is there in the pictures which I painted then.”12

The number boards found in Transylvanian Saxon churches, which once indicated Biblical quotations, today – removed from their environment – undergo a shift in meaning and, in the process of artistic creation, prophetically mark the historical events determining the existence of mankind. Figures frequently turn into letters of a script, with an own identity along the lines of a special internal logic. The mania of the figure becomes the fixed idea of history and religion. The man of today can thus rediscover and reinterpret symbols and history and can use the past to recast the present. It is a world in which history and faith are mixed up and where faith becomes history. These number boards tell the story of solitude and passing.

After eight hundred years of history Transylvanian Saxon villages have become deserted, the schools have closed, and only the churches remain as mementoes to a distant, glorious time. In Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez wrote, “everything written was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not get a second chance on earth.” Tara finds old pictorial displays in the abandoned schools and uses them to draw up the history and legends of these places, the last remaining people, the churches. He fully identifies with the wall charts thus repossessed. The graphic fuses with the already existing image, creating countless labyrinthine connections.

Based on the philosophical idea developed by Deleuze and Guattari in Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972-1980), a rhizome is a concept that serves to describe multiplication characterized by non-subordinated inputs and outputs. This new interpretation issued from what Deleuze called “images of thought.” Most of the graphics are based on the idea of endless multiplication. All of the pictures can be connected to some other component or any other thing; infinite analogies can be generated both on the level of images and the interpretation of symbols. Tara’s work is characterized by the continuous transfer of organic parts changing and transforming due to often genuine artistic machineries, laying bare a chaotic world growing from vegetative roots in a system of endless multiplication.

Trans(a)gressive Millennium is a sort of retrospective sociology, an anthropology of human ecstasy. Tara can describe more in graphics than we can picture. His art proliferates in an ever-widening circle around the fixed point of the world, representing with its multitude of interweavements a “Tara-world,” where each randomly selected work refers back to the same unique, organic vision.

Curator: Diana Dochia


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, “On Art,” On Art Religion, and the History of Philosophy: Introductory Lectures, ed. J. Glenn Gray (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997) 105.
Anthony Julius, Transgressions: The Offences of Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002) 9.
Qtd. ibid. 10.
Rader and Jessup qtd. ibid. 11.
Michel Foucault, “A Preface to Transgression,” trans. Donald F. Bouchard, Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, ed. James D. Faubion (New York: The New Press, 1999) 73-74.
Qtd. in Julius, Transgressions 11.
Michel Foucault, “The Subject and Power,” trans. Robert Hurley, Power, ed. James D. Faubion (New York: The New Press, 2000) 329.
Arthur C. Danto, “Art, Evolution, and the Consciousness of History,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 44.3 (1986): 231.
Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” trans. Catherine Porter, Paul Rabinow, ed., The Foucault Reader (New York, Pantheon Books, 1984) 37-38.
Charles Baudelaire, “The Artist, Man of the Crowd, Man of the World, and Child,” The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays (London: Phaidon, 1995). 11.
Gilles Deleuze and F�lix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (New York: Continuum, 2004) 13-14.
Lynda Morris and Christoph Grunenberg, Picasso: Peace and Freedom (London: Tate Publishing, 2010).

Press release – Tara _von Neudorf_ at MODEM, 2011