Art, Flowers, Industrial Landscapes and Anticipative Memories

(This is a self investigative and anticipative story. The author's suggestion is to read the story first and only then to enter the links.)

This morning I received a question: a flowers' lover sent me a new email with some other photos of his and asking me why didn't I post this one until now:

"Don't you like it? Is it because I do not have a name in art or because I am living here in Resita like you?"


Industry and Flowers in Resita, 2015

...and this photo brought back my memories to tell its story.

Not long ago, an art curator from Bucharest, who learned about our industry-art themed travels, asked me if I could accompany him and a group of artists to a region of Hungary to photograph people's faces. He said he was funded for this project and asked to talk about a price. I told him that I researched mostly industrial (tourism) attractions, and that my Hungarian is not quite satisfactory. I turned him away also because without a local connection, it must be embarrassing, since real people on the streets or in their homes, aren't like the live models in an art school, and even those must trust and communicate with the artists. As I needed help for our intended project of an Industrial Patrimony Art Festival in Resita, I proposed to make this a reciprocal service. Once, coming to an exhibition in Timisoara, he visited me in Resita, to talk about our projects. According to my previous experience, I thought that the best way to break the ice in Hungary would be through a local journalist which I might find and contact him with the help of a former school mate, who is a journalist here in Resita. I invited him to my place also for all of us to meet. I had a big surprise when the curator didn't agree to tell a journalist about our projects, because this was "breaking his private and artistic side", therefore I gave up.

Being annoyed, I wanted to discover the "retrocausality". At least mine. The first thing I remembered then was Andre Rieu who said "life is memories", recently when he came to Bucharest to pray next to the place where so many young people died in their innocent love for music. He also said that no one can take him away the memories he has from (the people of) Bucharest, and that's why he was so touched.

For sure every human being has his own memories, so as they are, and either he shares them or not. And I also have mine, and they are always with me, interacting with the ones of other human beings so as they are. I don't want and can't change anything, but I can share mines. I am not bothered by it, I have nothing to hide.

It was around April or May of 1990, in France. Together with a compatriot and friend of mine, we were invited there by some of those extraordinary people who came to our town soon after the 1989 events. It was half official, however we were on our own. We were driving my car, at that time an Oltcit (a Romania made Citroen Axel).


My First Car: OLTCIT Club 11 RM, 1989

Those Frenchmen were so curious and so enthusiastic about our presence there, that we were invited and taken from one to the other, and we also "landed" at the mayor, and at some politicians, and without even being told before, at a press conference too. We felt it was our hosts' way to honor us. They were sincere, just humanly curious, wanted to know about Ceausescu, and especially confronting what they knew and thought about us. And suddenly I had a formidable "je m'en fiche" (the French of I don't care) inspiration:

Me: "Do you know what was the first thing we liked here in France?"

All: "No"

And I begun telling them that overnight we stayed at a (German) friend of my father's in Germany, where everything was so clean and correct. After I parked the car on the sidewalk in front of his house, he came to inspect my car. He didn't know this type of car, as he ran away from communist Romania some good years before. However, as a true German, he noticed that my tires were a little spent, and that I had small oil leaks underneath. I had to immediately put some cardboard under my car to protect the (clean German) sidewalk... and the next day we crossed the border into France and stopped in the first parking place: garbage, papers, huge oil stains. It was the first time after some tormented that days I felt (like) home.

And one of the politicians said:

"But there are some of those correct Germans who come here to us to throw their garbage, because home they aren't allowed to do it."

And they published only what I said. Maybe that was the truth. The politician just joked.

After 25 years I still have proof of those people's human empathy. My French friends, after the unfortunate Bucharest music club accident, called to say that they learned about it and that they were sorry and asked if nobody close to me was among the victims. And unfortunately, after only 2 weeks, I had to call back, because of the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris: equally sincere, equally private and with no trace of hidden interests.


OLTCIT (1981-1994) - Green

I also remembered how I wished for my Oltcit to be this flashy green color and, despite the fact that my father was the colleague and friend of the factory's manager, it was not possible, because the communists didn't import this pigment anymore: this was around December of 1989. Three months before that, I made a down payment for a Dacia. I should have waited 3 to 4 years for it, but the Oltcits, being less reliable and less practical, did not have such a big demand. Therefore, I was allowed (by the omnipresent communist administration) to buy one of those quite immediately.

I got the money from my grandfather, who, after my grandmother's death, sold their house and went to live with my father's sister. (Because he wasn't a loner as I thought I was at that time). And it was also him and a friend who were my Hungarian teachers. In order to learn some Hungarian (grammar), I made sentences in Romanian and my grandfather translated them. He didn't know grammar, neither did he speak Romanian very well. My friend would be surprised how well his joke was fitting us: ”If you know how to talk, you don't need grammar. If you know grammar and you don't know how to talk, you learned it in vain”. This last one is me, (un)fortunately, now that I almost forgot that "grammar" too. And despite his bad Romanian, my grandfather was a respected member of that multi-ethnic community, even famous: I remember ladies, also among my teachers, who courted me (and my father too!), for my grandfather's custom tailored shoes and boots. And it wasn't quite comfortable for his customers, as at that time he worked "clandestinely" at home, in a neighboring smaller town, at around 20 kilometers distance.

And because I remembered my friend, I remember his special Trabant too. And that, during the autumn of 1989, he convinced me and my father to buy one (for me). Our (bad) luck was that such an almost "finished" one was then not far from the price of a new Oltcit. And that was because new Trabants weren't imported anymore, and because their 2 stroke "sublime" musical and smoky engine could be fueled even by "cow dung": a short and funny YouTube clip and a longer, but suggestive oneSee also another story.


Trabant 601 (1963-1990)

Even today I am sincerely frustrated that I didn't buy such a car, not even later on, surely because of my friend ('s memory) too. I would have painted it also flashy green. But I got married, and my wife told me that, if among "the many other problems", I dared to appear (and spend the money) with such a "flashy, noisy, smoky and funny grinder", she was going to divorce me. However, this was not my problem, because she knows that for 20 years already I keep asking Trabant owners (always fewer and fewer), to let me drive their cars, and she still didn't divorce me.

This is not only why I thought an S-Type Jaguar would be "more adequate", but it was not affordable for us. Now, only as a second hand car, that wouldn't be a problem. But it is too "mighty and pretentious" for our "provincial family task book". However, for me, it is something else: a real Jaguar saloon, making me remember the legendary 1960 one, and underlining even better the Jaguar's ("slightly curved arrow") shape and spirit, and also like an irony against my too many compatriots who buy "mostly impressive VWs" because their bosses and neighbors also have one. However, "my Jaguar" would be a self irony too, representing my same disease, but with "pretended" more refined symptoms. Neither this would be a problem, as I truly like self ironies and the "slightly curved arrow" sublime idea.


Jaguar S Type (1998-2008)

I consider that money is just an illusion, while at the same time being too reserved in spending them, but I still think I deserve neither the Trabant, nor the Jaguar. And if somebody would tell me that I have to choose only one, I'd answer that either both or none. Because just recently there was somebody so wise to write me: "As always, I think that if you want something, nothing can stop you from trying to get it". I just copy and pasted without distorting it... and I just realized how revoltingly simple, but almost impossible this problem is now, although it is only mine. That's why I am so "revolted" for a while now: because of the fact that I am bewildered, demobilized, and that I even doubt the future of my children. When they ask me for an advice on what profession to chose, or if to remain here in Resita like us or leave the town, I am silent and I don't dare to formulate an opinion. Fortunately not always, because some other times I've begun to (re)discover myself.

About 12 years ago I bought a classic XK Jaguar toy for my elder boy and he asked (same as I asked my father long ago) if we couldn't have it for real, because he liked it more than ours (at the time a small "sympathetic" red Matiz). And because at that time a real one would have costed more than all the apartments in our building, I, as an engineer, came to a different solution and built a real car body like a sculptor. But I didn't copy my child's toy, because I had to take into consideration the mechanical infrastructure I used (from a Dacia), that we were 4, not 2 persons to seat in it, and many other things, including my unsatisfied preference for other cars that would have costed maybe more than all the buildings on our street.

The journalists learned about it, long before I homologated the prototype, and asked me to do interviews and the permission to shoot photos and films. I didn't refuse any. My school mate I told about it, asked me if I wasn't afraid my idea to be stolen the shape of the car's body. I told him all these stories, stressing that I neither stole it, nor was I afraid somebody to steal it from me. No one could steal my children's joy to be in that car, nor my satisfaction of my back in time "technical consultations" with the legendary and pioneering engineers and artists like those from Jaguar, Bugatti, Ferrari, Porsche, Citroen, Renault... And I concluded with exactly these words: “They can call me to court, anyone who the hell wants, I have nothing to hide”.


Exotic Car Prototype Built by Me and Homologated EC in 2005

I was astonished that now, after so many years, he didn't forget my words:

"Marius, we know each other for almost 45 years: is somebody calling you to court, do you have something to hide?"

It was about 4 years ago, at the art school, when I told our teacher (also a former engineer), that I wanted to model a portrait, but I would try to shape it from holes instead of some prominent real details; and she told me that I had to pay another teacher to teach me such things. Our popular art schools are among the few extraordinary inheritances of the communist regime: the fees are about €10 Euro/ month, for 3 hours long courses twice a week. And they accept anybody starting from 5 years old to 80 in separate small groups. I asked her, that if she knew another course at such a good price, to recommend it to me.

I "experimented" something (I keep it now home on the floor) like a Halloween pumpkin, but with missing forehead and cheeks. I wanted to throw it away, but she convinced me to keep it, being my own art. I even had to present it in our current expo:

"It seems you found by yourself the €10 teacher. And even a good one. Don't you realize how much this portrait resembles you, so without a forehead?"

flowers2      sculpture

Red Poppies and a Portrait Sculpted by Me at the Art School, 2012

...and after some years comes "a young handsome" artist-curator from the capital and asks me to accompany him (as a tourist guide and translator) to photograph human faces somewhere in a corner of my second beloved country. And he also asks me how much would it cost for my effort, if considered professional. But I am just an engineer who spent some years of his life in an "anonymous" popular art school in Resita, Romania (his first beloved country), studying art for only €10 / month and barely speaking Hungarian, because only my grandparents spoke with me, and even that not very often as they lived in a neighboring town.

It happened daily from September 1987 to May 1991 that I passed in front of a sinister industrial landscape in my way to and from my workplace in the factory. And maybe some other 3-4 times daily when I was passing the area with work issues. Totally about 10,000 times. Recently, after 25 years, I returned, and somebody planted there flowers that I didn't notice. By a fortunate mistake, I see a photo of that place revived by flowers, and I consider both, the anonymous who planted the flowers and the other one who shot the photo, big artists. And an art curator seems to suggest me to cut such memories in order to "protect my artistic and personal side". But I really enjoy those flowers and my €10 art...

And I remember how sincere Andre Rieu felt in Bucharest along with the young people whose friends died there listening to music. And what a wonderful Romanian music he performed in Maastricht. All that because he nurtured his memories, even them being from an alien and less happy world like ours.

By an unfortunate mistake I lost the contact data of the person who sent me a few weeks ago that flowers photo. And I want to thank him, to renew his permission for posting it and, like my teacher, to convince him that true art can be done even by "one of ours" and even here in Resita. And his modesty would be just one more attribute.

As I said before, this morning I had luck: the flowers lover sent me a new e-mail with other photos... and also begun telling that he knows about me from a good friend of his, an artist-curator from Bucharest, who visited me (and him) some time ago... and that in spite of his friend being younger, he is modest and with a very low profile, that sometimes can be confused for ambition.


Abandoned Industry and Nature in Resita, 2015

It seems that sometimes nothing is what it appears, and that in another possible future, the curator and the journalist might have become good friends. And there is another elder friend of mine, whom I respect deeply, and who, together with his peer scientists concluded that: "New research suggests humans can sense future events without any known clue".

Would this story be just one more proof, same as Rieu's performance in Maastricht could be an anticipation for Resita? But our own (and our children's) future, in interaction with each other, as "the (any) mind exists only in interaction with other minds". (Mihai Nadin) ..."As always", it is hard and painful for instantaneously and profoundly interacting minds to find their (otherwise so obvious) common harmony. It's not only about art or science. It's life itself and they can't be separated... And maybe this is just another anticipation.

...And I also anticipate my wife scolding me for being "as always" in another world and so inert with our grandchildren, that she couldn't count on me at least helping them a little at mathematics, instead of taking time away and diverting them with my funny cars. Seeing how quickly our children grew, I am still in a big hurry and I am afraid of not being properly prepared. That's why I didn't notice those flowers. My luck was that others thought I deserved them. And the only way to rematch would be to slow a little down. At least for a while, to take their children too, at a walk with my so beloved cars. For such a pleasure, I'd imagine the most unimaginable math equations to solve "my revolting simple and almost impossible problem" and I'd tell anybody who wants to enjoy with me (be them journalists)... And who knows what sublime or equally (self) destructive developments would be further driven by others, but I have to presume and fight for the good.

Wouldn't you be tempted to continue this story's debate and to immerse in Resita's wider world? Or subscribe and further follow our blog stories, highlighting our themed experiential travels?

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