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Andra Ursuta: Magical Terrorism

Ramiken Crucible
389 Grand Street, at Norfolk
East Village / Lower East Side
September 15 - October 21, 2012
Reception: Saturday, September 15, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Ramiken Crucible presents Magical Terrorism, a body of new sculptures by Andra Ursuta that feed on meltdown mania, news reports, scams, and obscure Marxisms such as the allegation that the people of the Balkans are ethnic trash. Ursuta, a Romanian with inexhaustible enthusiasm for self-deprecation, has chosen to assume that this cultural cliche is accurate.

Recently, around the time of Occupy Wall Street, the BBC website featured the minor story of a group of Gypsy witches who cast a curse on the Romanian government to protest a law that recognized witchcraft as a legitimate and thus taxable profession. Mandrake, dog excrement, and a dead cat were tossed into the Danube. It is unclear whether the full spell recipe was withheld to protect the witches’ trade or to prevent it from accidentally toppling some other, innocent bystander government. Magical Terrorism continues where the news article ends and outlines a latter-day personality cult of these unknown psychic soldiers. In the dilapidated setting of Ramiken’s vandalized space as shorthand for a dystopian future, the women are embodied as highly mobile, destructive squatters. The windows of the gallery have been blown out, and a completely ruined wall is used as an ascension ramp for a horse cart that appears dug from the bottom of an ancient mud pit, covered in shiny metal, and outfitted with a set of new rubbers. A pair of boots lodged in the cart bed at optimal power-stance angles points to the vehicle’s possible use as a wandering pedestal. The absent occupier of the cart was the first woman Ursuta saw hit her husband in public with a mud-filled shoe.

The three identical, monumental marble statues of Commerce Exterieur Mondial Sentimental are the show’s most explicit objects, but there is fraud involved: modeled after another news photograph of an unknown Romanian Gypsy waiting to be deported from France in 2011, these statues aren’t real sculptures, or maybe not real artworks. They are mere socialist realist mannequins bearing elaborate arrangements of kilograms of change in different denominations. Part made-up cultural anthropology artifacts beholden to a decorative use of money and part sportswear tailored for permanent outdoors urban living, these objects are also crude investment schemes in the way all legitimate artworks are. Coin chokers also appear on a set of faux primitive female torsos cast in iron, aluminum, and aggregates of concrete and manure. Like ritualistic conversion tables, these wares depict obsolete exchange rates between the Euro, US Dollars, and Romanian currency.
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