Past Present. The Archive and the 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.

Between 5–27 November 2022 the audio-visual installation ‘Past Present. The Archive and the Body’ was on display at /SAC @ Malmaison.  On 5, 6, 12, 13, 17 and 24 November, the installation was accompanied by a series of performances entitledIn three days the grass will grow….

On 20 and 21 April 2023, the performance In three days the grass will grow…’ was presented at /SAC @ Malmaison by Centrul Național al Dansului București during CNDB Itinerant – a performative season taking place in various venues in Bucharest or in the country.

What remains when apparently there is nothing left?

We activate through performative means the remnants of disrupted worlds, of communities immobilised in a traumatic historical time: 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 year 79.

How can we reweave the threads of erased histories?

Archival fragments and memories are interpreted and reactivated by the bodies and voices of performers and participants through in situ research, movement workshops, community gatherings. These experiences are brought together in an audio-visual installation and activated through performative actions. Past spaces, objects and stories are brought into the present. Their reconfiguration generates new experiences that become in turn archival sources  – an oscillation between oblivion and remembering, erasure and recovery.

  • 10–15 September, Pompeii archaeological site. Artistic residence of performers-choreographers Smaranda Găbudeanu, Iulia Mărăcine, Hanna Gillgren, artistic director Ioana Marinescu and documentary filmmaker Laurențiu Calciu.
  • 16–18 September, 11.00-15.00, CNDB. Movement workshop ‘Embodying the Archive’ led by choreographer Hanna Gillgren, in collaboration with Smaranda Găbudeanu and Iulia Mărăcine.
  • 16 September, 19.00-21.00, CNDB. Artists lectures and open talks ‘Embodying the Archive’. With Hanna Gillgren, Corina Cimpoieru and Ioana Marinescu.
  • 04 and 24 September, Izvor Park, Bucharest. Encounters with members of the former Uranus neighbourhood community, facilitated by Costin Gheorghe and Cristian Văraru (moderators of the Cartierul Uranus online platform) and mediated by Katia Pascariu.
  • 05–27 November, /SAC@Malmaison. Audio-visual installation.
  • 5, 6, 12, 13, 17 and 24 November, 19.30, /SAC@Malmaison. “In three days the grass will grow…” six performances, app. 75 min, accompanying the audio-visual installation.
  • 19 and 20 November, 11.00-13.00, /SAC@Malmaison and Centrul Zi de Bine. Two movement workshops led by Svitlana Pashko (Sveta Bird) addressed to the Ukrainian community in Bucharest.
  • 20 and 21 April 2023, 19.30, /SAC@Malmaison. Two performances, app. 75 min.



‘Past Present. The Archive and the Body’ is based on the research of Ioana Marinescu (visual artist and architect) who brings to light the phenomenon of repressed, disappeared histories and forced displacement of communities in their attempt to reconcile with a problematic past. The original research focusing on the former Uranus Hill in Bucharest was undertaken at The Slade School of Fine Art in London, whilst the work inspired by the plaster casts of Pompeii was first tested during an artist residency at Beaconsfield in London in June 2021, together with Hanna Gillgren. The project has been further developed together with Smaranda Găbudeanu (choreographer and performer, founder PETEC) and Iulia Mărăcine (dancer, co-founder Ludic Collective). The project was supported by Alex Radu (president of /SAC, executive director of Vellant publishing). 

‘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 UranusCESI (Centrul de Excelență în Studiul Imaginii), Radio România Cultural (Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation – Cultural National Channel), Igloo.

Special thanks: Pompeii Archaeological Park.

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.

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.