Present Pasts. Archive and Body

“Past Present. The Archive and the Body” is an art project that explores the relationship between body, memory and archive in various displaced communities from radically destroyed places.

What is left when there is nothing left?

We activate through performative means the remnants of communities immobilized in a traumatic historical time, of disrupted worlds: the destruction in the 1980s of the neighbourhoods in the area of the former Uranus Hill, Bucharest and the ‘stone bodies’ of the ancient inhabitants of Pompeii trapped under lava during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79.

How can we reweave the threads of erased histories?

Archival fragments and memories are interpreted and reactivated by the bodies and voices of both performers and participants through in situ research, movement workshops, community gatherings — a continuum in which the past becomes tangible and the present can be reimagined. The layers of our artistic practices will come together in an audio-visual installation that will be systematically activated through performances in various locations of the Malmaison building.

In an interdisciplinary artistic process we connect performers with visual artists and members of these respective communities in a series of participatory events. We begin with an artistic residence at the archaeological site of Pompeii, where we will explore the condition of the immobile body at the boundary between movement and stillness, life and death, in direct relation to the body casts and their representations. We continue with a movement workshop and a series of artist talks/ lectures at the CNDB, during which we investigate the relationship between the living body and various archival images. In a series of community dinners in Izvor Park, we bring together former residents of the demolished neighbourhoods in an attempt to reoccupy and give emotional meaning to a now-vanished world. We dedicate two workshops to the Ukrainian community in Bucharest — active witnesses of a similar phenomenon in full swing. We create an audio-visual and performative installation, “Past Present. Archive and the body”, at /SAC @ MALMAISON (Spațiul de Artă Contemporană). The opening event is scheduled on the 27th of October.

Project team and activities

“Past Present. The Archive and the Body” is based on the doctoral research of Ioana Marinescu — the project’s visual artist and architect, artistic director — who brings to light the phenomenon of repressed, disappeared histories and displaced communities. The artistic process is developed together with Smaranda Găbudeanu (choreographer and performer, founder PETEC) and Iulia Mărăcine (dancer, co-founder Ludic Collective). The project is supported by Alex Radu (president of /SAC, executive director of Vellant publishing).

  • Movement workshop ‘Embodying the Archive’ on 16-18 September at CNDB, led by choreographer Hanna Gillgren (co-founder H2Dance, UK), in collaboration with Smaranda Găbudeanu and Iulia Mărăcine;
  • An evening of artist lectures and open talks ‘Embodying the Archive’ on 16 September, between 19:00-21:00, at CNDB, with Ioana Marinescu, Hanna Gillgren, and Corina Cimpoieru (PhD in sociology and coordinator of the CNDB Media Library);
  • Artistic residence at the archaeological site of Pompeii in September, during which we will produce choreographic material and photo/video content together with documentary filmmaker Laurențiu Calciu;
  • Three meetings with members of the former Uranus neighbourhood community in September, facilitated by Costin Gheorghe and Cristian Văraru (moderators of the Uranus Neighbourhood online platform) and mediated by actress Katia Pascariu.
  • Two creative workshops addressed to the Ukrainian community in Bucharest, in October and November;
  • An audio-visual installation at /SAC @ Malmaison activated by periodic performative actions, from 27 October. Alex Radu will facilitate the production of the visual and performative installation, and architect Justin Baroncea together with architect Maria Ghement and in collaboration with Ioana Marinescu, will design the exhibition space.


The project ‘Past Present. The Archive and the Body’ is co-produced by PETEC (Asociația Pentru Teatru și Carte) and /SAC @ MALMAISON (Spațiul de Artă Contemporană) in partnership with H2Dance (London),  CNDB (The National Center for Dance Bucharest), Beaconsfield (London), the community Cartierul Uranus, CESI (Centrul de Excelență în Studiul Imaginii), Radio România Cultural (Romanian Radio Broadcastig Corporation – Cultural National Channel), Igloo.

The project is co-financed by The Administration of the National Cultural Fund. The project doesn’t necessarily represent the position of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN is not responsible for the project’s content or for how its results can be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the grant beneficiary.

Project team – short biographies

Ioana Marinescu is an architect and visual artist and the artistic director of the project. Ioana works with large photographs in public spaces, with projections and live actions. She has recently completed a PhD by practice at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the activation of archival imagery in urban contexts and through the body. The proposed project is based on her research on the former Uranus Hill in Bucharest.

Smaranda Găbudeanu is a dancer, choreographer and founder of PETEC. She began her formal education with studies in acting and puppetry and continued with contemporary dance and the exploration of various artistic fields. Along with participating in artistic productions on the stage of the National Center for Dance Bucharest (CNDB) and in various state and independent theatres, Smaranda developed an interest in visual arts and film that led her to master studies in Image Theory and Practice at CESI and to meet and collaborate with Ioana Marinescu.

Iulia Mărăcine is a performer and co-founder of Ludic Collective. As a performer, she collaborates with artists from different art areas (visual art, choreography, film, theatre, music). Within the collective, she co-created and organised participatory performances, audiovisual installations, as well as somatic workshops, in various spaces (theatres, galleries, cultural institutions, schools) both locally and internationally. 

Laurențiu Calciu is an award-winning documentary filmmaker in Romania and France, with experience in capturing improvised situations on the borderline between documentary and fiction. He has made films mainly about social, economic and political life in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Laurențiu will film and create material for the performative installation as well as a documentary film of the whole project. 

Katia Pascariu is an actress, performer and cultural activist. A graduate of UNATC (2006) and Univ. Bucharest – Master in Anthropology (2016). She works on the local and international scene, mainly in theatre and performance, but also in the film, collaborating with multidisciplinary teams. For over 10 years she has been involved in social and political theatre projects, participating – together with the collectives Replika, Macaz Coop., Vârsta4, DramAcum – in the development of community-educational artistic programs. She has been running educational and community theatre workshops for over 10 years. She is also part of the artistic collective of the Jewish State Theatre in Bucharest. Katia will guide us throughout the project, acting as a mediator between the project team and community members of the former Uranus and Izvor neighbourhoods.

Alex Radu is the president of /SAC – Spațiul de Artă Contemporană, and the executive director of Vellant publishing house. Alex Radu is recognized as one of the most proactive cultural managers in the visual arts and is also passionate about performance art. Through all his activities, he aims to increase the audience for contemporary art by supporting projects in alternative spaces, which he contextualizes in flexible and publicly accessible presentation frameworks. He will coordinate the team of artists and facilitate the production of the visual and performative installation at /SAC @ MALMAISON.

Hanna Gillgren is a Swedish-born choreographer and performer based in London, co-artistic director of H2DANCE, and a lecturer of dance practice and choreography at Roehampton University. A graduate of the London Contemporary Dance School, she has received awards for her own work and has collaborated with a number of other internationally acclaimed choreographers and dancers. She collaborated with Ioana Marinescu during an artistic residency in Beaconsfield, London, on the archival images of the ‘stone bodies’ from Pompeii, and will lead a dance workshop on 16-18 September at the National Center for Dance  Bucharest (CNDB).

Corina Cimpoieru works as a researcher and coordinator of the Media Library and Archive at the National Center for Dance Bucharest (CNDB). In recent years she has dedicated her time to identifying documents about dance, researching in both private and institutional archives, with the aim of recovering the history of Romanian dance and performance through archiving practices that reconfigure their potential for contemporary projects: performative re-enactments, dance and performance exhibitions, publishing projects.

Costin Gheorghe is an architect, photographer and moderator of the online platform Cartierul Uranus / Uranus disappeared. Together with Cristian Văraru, he will facilitate the relationship with the community of former inhabitants of the neighbourhood and the archival documentation of the project.

Justin Baroncea, associate professor at the Department of Urbanism of the Institute of Architecture “Ion Mincu” Bucharest and at the Escuela BAC in Barcelona, is a multi-award-winning architect for the design of numerous projects, including exhibitions. Together with architect Maria Ghement and in collaboration with Ioana Marinescu, they will design the exhibition space of the performative installation. 

Ana Turos is an independent actress, founding member of Punctart Association and since 2018 collaborator of Cult’n Șură Association. She has done project management for several theatre shows and for the podcast ‘The Best Stupid Film’. She is the project coordinator.

Monica Bumbeș communicates with little ones, as well as grown-ups. If it’s about making friends with the cultural heritage, then she designs and runs programmes for children, at school or in museums, together with the Da’DeCe Association team. If it’s about artistic projects (such as this one), then she joins in body and soul with the multidisciplinary teams, to tell the whole world about them, through the well-known media channels. Either way, the joy and fulfilment that contact with the arts brings you must be shared.

Raymond Bobar is a graphic and type designer. He studied type design at Cooper Union NYC and at the University of Reading. He was the art director of Bucharest based DOR magazine and worked in parallel for 2×4, Black Button, Dalton Maag, Fabrica de Pensule, MNAC, Newlyn, Nicodim and Salonul de Proiecte. He created the graphic design for the Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale editions of 2016 (Architecture) and 2017 (Art). His most recent project is Omnes Georgian typeface, created at Darden Studio and published by Adobe.