A Journey through Bucharest’s Fascist Architecture and Forgotten History

By Stefania Ventome. Edited by Lina Mansour. Biographies are available at the end of the article.

In front of Bucharest’s main train station, at the end of a small park that shelters homeless people and drug addicts, lies the CFR Palace. Massive, imposing and sober, the CFR Palace, also known as the Ministry of Transportation, is one of the first buildings that a visitor coming to Bucharest by train would notice. It is also one of the many architectural remains of totalitarian regimes scattered around Romania’s capital. Nowadays, Bucharest is a city of contrasts, split between abandonment and consumerism and decay and development, but for most of the past century, the city was the administrative centre of three gruesome dictatorships, a dark history that has left significant marks on the city’s identity. Bucharest’s monumentalism is mostly attributed to the infamous legacy of Ceausescu’s brutal regime, but buildings such as the CFR Palace evoke a different past, one that has been slowly erased from the people’s collective memory. 

Continue reading “A Journey through Bucharest’s Fascist Architecture and Forgotten History”

The Future of Creative Europe

Towards a new generation of cultural funding

by Marje Brütt

The cultural and creative sector is the third biggest employer in the European Union being only excelled by the construction and the food sectors.[1] Besides their rather underestimated economic importance, culture and creativity build bridges between people and positively influence various areas, e.g. education, well-being or democracy. Consequently, culture contributes to the objectives of the European integration. Therefore, it is necessary to foster our cultural and political identity, to preserve our diversity and increase the intercultural dialogue as it is mentioned in Article 167 of the Treaty of Lisbon.[2]

In order to give credit to the cultural sector and to support its further development, the European Union launched Creative Europe in 2014 as the EU’s funding programme for the cultural, creative and audiovisual sectors.[3] As such it is in place for seven years (2014-2020) and consists of two sub-programmes that used to exist independently before: MEDIA and CULTURE. While MEDIA[4] is dedicated to the audiovisual sector and helps promoting audiovisual works, CULTURE covers funding for all other cultural and creative areas including amongst others performing and visual arts, literature, music, street art and cultural heritage. In total, 1,46 billion Euros are foreseen for the whole programme meaning for the whole seven years and all participating countries.[5] Related to the amount of participating countries, this amount can change throughout the years. In addition to the 28 EU Member States, interested European countries can associate with Creative Europe and thereby increase the programme’s budget. In the past years, the list of participating countries grew continuously up to 41 countries in 2018, including amongst others Tunisia, Georgia, Ukraine, Albania and Armenia, boosting the intercultural exchange in the European neighbourhood.[6] Simultaneously, countries can also leave the group as it was the case with Turkey in autumn 2016 and could be happening again with the upcoming Brexit in 2019. Continue reading “The Future of Creative Europe”

Marseille-Provence 2013: A dive into the Mediterranean

Marseille, a lively multicultural city and ancient Greek port, still continues to live from the sea. Walking from the Gare St. Charles, you can already feel it: the sound of people out in the streets and the view and smell of the sea… Marseille-Provence 2013 has extensively worked on this dimension to make its programme’s Arianna’s red string the Mediterranean indeed.

Bianca Rubino│biancarubino@gmail.com

Culture is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Marseille: the second largest city in France, notoriously unsafe and dangerous, especially according to the French media who have recently reported several incidents of gun shootings. This is why the title of European Capital of Culture provides Marseille and the surrounding area of Provence, including the towns of Aix, Arles and Aubagne, with a significant opportunity to change its image.

3Marseille, a lively multicultural city and ancient Greek port, still continues to live from the sea. Walking from the Gare St. Charles, you can already feel it: the sound of people out in the streets and the view and smell of the sea… Marseille-Provence 2013 has extensively worked on this dimension to make its programme’s Arianna’s red string the Mediterranean indeed. And so it was, on 12-13 January 2013, that a full year of performances, exhibitions and cultural events and exchanges saw its start.

The first step to plunge into Marseille-Provence 2013 is to visit the Pavillon M (Pavillon de Marseille): this centre is open for the entire year and in it you can discover Marseille and Provence through videos, maps and interactive devices. In the building, it is also possible to collect information about the programme of Marseille-Provence 2013 and, when needed, buy tickets. Pavillon M is situated in the area of the Vieux-Port, a small harbour overlooked by Notre-Dame De la Garde from one of Marseille’s hill tops. The Vieux-Port, characterised by numerous touristic restaurants, can be pleasant for a walk, for shopping at the fish and flower markets, and for enjoying the view of the boats anchored there. For the occasion of Marseille-Provence 2013, an interesting mirror canopy has been built and animal-shaped sculptures have been collocated in the main quay.

2The city harbour has been central to the immense urban renovation of the city. From 1995, renewal started with the private and public initiative of Euromed (Euro-Mediterranean project). In fact, Marseille-Provence 2013 counts upon several new cultural infrastructures built or remodelled by prominent architects. Some worthy of mentioning are the Mucem (Museum of Civilisations from Europe and the Mediterranean) by Rudy Ricciotti, the Villa Méditerranée by Stefano Boeri, the Frac by Kengo Kuma, and the J1 Hangar by Catherine Bonte which will offer a new shape to the harbour. Unfortunately at the moment, this vision is slightly hindered by the on-going construction sites, still there even three months after the launch of the Capital of Culture.

The above-mentioned J1 Hangar, from where it is possible to enjoy a beautiful view of the Cathédral Notre-Dame de la Major, is already accessible and utilises a space of 6000 m2 for exhibitions and other events such as performances. Until 18 May, it will host the exhibition “Mediterraneans. From yesterday’s cities to today’s men”, an itinerary narrating the history of the Mediterranean through the histories and descriptions of eleven port cities (Troy, Tyre, Athens, Alexandria, Rome, Al-Andalus, Venice, Genoa, Istanbul, Algiers and, of course, Marseille). The exhibition combines historical objects and recent video-interviews reporting on different topics, and revolves around history and current societies trying to understand what it means to be Mediterranean today. Bravely someone has already offered her answer, writing in the guest-book: «I feel fully Mediterranean, thank you for this new identity. Julie».

4aWalking from the centre to the periphery of the city, another very interesting cultural infrastructure is La Friche Belle de Mai, which has also benefited from the Euro-Mediterranean project. Situated in its namesake neighbourhood Belle de Mai, this former tobacco factory was turned into a cultural centre in 1992 and, after two years of further renovation, it has reopened. It’s an impressive multi-purpose space open for exhibitions, ateliers, theatre, shows, cultural activities and cultural organisations’ offices. Here you can also meet friends for a glass of wine or dinner, teenagers can skateboard, and parents can bring along their children to play in the outdoor spaces which include small gardens.

La Friche Belle de Mai hosted until 31 March “Ici, ailleurs” (“Here, Elsewhere”), an exhibition which brought together thirty-nine artists from the Mediterranean area, showing sculptures, paintings and photography. Two of those artists have taken part in the project “Les Ateliers de l’EuroMéditerranée”, which consists of residences of artists in unusual places outside the cultural field, aiming to support contemporary creation, shape a new artistic production model, and involve new audiences.

Marseille-Provence 2013 offers around six hundred events throughout the year. In the coming months, interesting events such as the exhibition “Le grand atelier du midi”, the “Transhumance” performances, and the festival “This is (not) music” are waiting to be experienced. The investment undertaken for Marseille-Provence 2013 is surely visible through the new buildings, or new uses of old ones. The biggest challenge will be to insure the long-term effects of cultural and social directives which refer to the city and to the Mediterranean as a whole: will Marseille-Provence 2013 be a turning point for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation?

marseille feature

Bianca Rubino, Exhibition Editor

Bianca is Italian with Swiss roots. She studied BA Humanities for the study of Culture in Modena, Italy, and went on Erasmus to Malmö, Sweden. She is now enrolled in MA Euroculture , which she studied in the University of Groningen and the University of Strasbourg. She did an internship at Interarts, based in Barcelona, Spain, in the field of cultural project management and cultural policy and is now back in Strasbourg to finish her MA thesis. Her interests are anthropology, sociology, artistic and cultural life and institutions, cultural management and policy, and many more. She has the smallest feet a girl ever had.

Franco-German Interferences on Exhibition at MAMCS

                        Interférences/Interferenzen Architecture: Germany and France 1800-2000               

Herbert Bayer, Le Werkbund allemand à l’Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs. Salle 5. Vues d’architectures modernes en Allemagne, avec des maquettes du Bauhaus de Dessau (Walter Gropius) et de la banque régionale de Stuttgart (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe), Paris (1930), tirage argentique, 12,6 x 21,6 cm. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn

Bianca Rubino│biancarubino@gmail.com

Inspirational meeting with the renowned architectural historians Jean-Louis Cohen, Professor at New York University, and Hartmut Frank, Professor at the Hafen-City University of Hambourg, also curators of the exhibition “Interférences/Interferenzen Architecture: Germany and France 1800-2000” which delivers an exceptional approach to discover the architectural and urban interferences between Germany and France, exploring the architectural space of Europe.

The city of Strasbourg seems to embody the best scenario to frame and host the exhibition named “Interférences/Interferenzen Architecture: Germany and France 1800-2000”, as inaugurated on 28 March 2013 and which will run until 21 July 2013 at the MAMCS (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Strasbourg).

28 March - 21 July 2013 at MAMCS, Strasbourg
28 March – 21 July 2013
at MAMCS, Strasbourg

This is a truly Franco-German project, conceived and realised by the Franco-German architectural historian pair of Jean-Louis Cohen and Hartmut Frank, which clearly sees the result of life-long passionate careers and research. Both men have always been interested in interpreting certain architectural phenomena through a common perspective, not necessarily a national point of view that could hinder the complexity of architecture. Already twenty-five years ago the first ideas of the project exhibited today emerged, but it was only about four years ago, after a long series of separate and joint professional ventures, that an extended project began to see its realisation thanks to the positive response of the city of Strasbourg. At this time, the city was also working on the project of the extension of their UNESCO World Heritage site. The “Grande-Île” (“Big Island”) had already been inscribed as such since 1988, and now work was being done to extend the World Heritage area to the Neustadt (“New City” but also known as the “German Quarter”), an urban area realised at the end of the XIX century after Alsace and part of Lorraine became part of the German Empire.

Explaining the choice of the term “Interferences”, or better Interférences/Interferenzen, as key words for the exhibition, Jean-Louis Cohen and Hartmut Frank like to stress the reasoning behind it. Concepts such as Cultural Transfers, Interactions, Histoires Croisées, Contaminations, or Influences could have been used, but they decided to borrow a concept of physics which refers to electro-magnetic fields. In fact, Interférences/Interferenzen best express the idea of the effect that each national French and German cultural field has on the other.

The exhibition embodies a new approach in the field of architecture, not separating countries, in this case France and Germany, but working on the totality with the aim to show their many levels of observation and mutual exchange.

Fernand Léger, Les Constructeurs, 1950, huile sur toile, 126 x 143 cm, Henie Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden, Norvège. Photo: Øystein Thorvaldsen © ADAGP Paris 2013

With around 600-700 m2 of space and more than 400 pieces from 60-100 different sources, rarely or never yet exhibited, from the spheres of architecture, art and history, Interférences/Interferenzen is an extraordinary exhibition. Its itinerary chronologically leads the visitor from the aftermath of the French Revolution and Empire until today, guiding from Napoleon to Angela Merkel, from Schinkel to Nouvel. The exhibition path follows nine sections, each of them developing further themes. You begin with gothic and classic crossed passions and art from Schinkel and Hugo, then move to the dawn of the industrial age and new issues of workers’ accommodation, and later to the phenomenon of nationalism and new urbanities with Haussmann in Paris and James Hobrecht in Berlin. In the XX century, you find monumental rhetoric, the use of concrete, and arrive to the First World War. Continuing, you discover the occupations and reconstructions of 1939-1949 and then modernisation, the dialogue between France and the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, and end with a united Europe and the mobility of professors, architects and students (referring also to the Erasmus Programme, of course!).

Otto Warth. Campus und Gebäude der Universität Straßburg (Palais universitaire), 1878-84, épreuve historique d’après photo n&b, 48×64 cm. Südwestdeutsches Archiv für Architektur und Ingenieurbau (saai) Karlsruhe

Strasbourg is present in almost all of the sections. In particular, it is referred to in the context of the Franco-Prussian war in the late XIX century and the subsequent construction of new areas in the city, as well as the cité-jardin by Edouard Schimpf constructed in the area of Stockfeld and the bridge in the Jardin des deux rives which, built in 2004 by the French architect Marc Mimram, connects Strasbourg to the closest German city of Kehl. The exhibition ends with a stand of the city of Strasbourg presenting the project of the extension of the perimeters of the safeguarded sector, the extension of the UNESCO World Heritage site to include the Neustadt, and the inventory of the Neustadt. The inventory of the Neustadt is being carried out by the Region and Sophie Eberhardt, who is working on the UNESCO application at the Culture Department of the City of Strasbourg, considers the exhibition to be a great opportunity to question the idea of frontiers and how to overpass them. She also considers it to be a great opportunity to raise awareness among Strasbourg’s population and its visitors, and foster exchanges between experts about architecture which is neither unequivocally German nor French. Hartmut Frank also believes that the re-evaluation of a part of the city that is historically not appreciated (even the colossal Palais du Rhin’s existence was questioned in the late 1950s) is demonstrative of a radical change in line with a European dimension and which indicates awareness of the fact that Strasbourg’s three wars represent the legacy of the city, which is in fact a Franco-German history. He also points out that the Neustadt was realised by 80% of local architects that had studied in Paris or Karlsruhe, thus being urban planning as a result of interferences of city planning from Paris and Berlin.

The exhibition required a lot of dedication because, as Frank reminds: “Architecture is not easy to communicate, the only true exhibition of the architecture is the city, the exhibition in a museum is always a translation”. In this, they have been helped by an architect agency for the display, Frenak & Jullien Architectes, and Volker Ziegler, lecturer at the École nationale supérieure d’architecture of Strasbourg, is the associate curator.

When asked to send a message to the MA Euroculture students, Jean-Louis Cohen says: “Go to school but do not limit yourself. Go outside, observe the landscape, meet people and you will learn as much as you can do at university”.

MAMCS, Crédit photo : Mathieu Bertola

* Practical information:

Tickets cost 7 Euro, reduced price 3,5 Euro. Free entry with Carte Culture or on the first Sunday of every month.

There is a book-catalogue of the exhibition available. The texts of the exhibition, which has been jointly organised with the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, are bilingual, in French and German. The next destination for the exhibition will be Frankfurt, from 28 September 2013 to 13 January 2014.

Bianca Rubino, Exhibition Editor

Bianca is Italian with Swiss roots. She studied BA Humanities for the study of Culture in Modena, Italy, and went on Erasmus to Malmö, Sweden. She is now enrolled in MA Euroculture , which she studied in the University of Groningen and the University of Strasbourg. She did an internship at Interarts, based in Barcelona, Spain, in the field of cultural project management and cultural policy and is now back in Strasbourg to finish her MA thesis. Her interests are anthropology, sociology, artistic and cultural life and institutions, cultural management and policy, and many more. She has the smallest feet a girl ever had.

Euroculture in Udine, Bella Italia

Emilie Lambiel | emlambiel@hotmail.com

Udine is a small city situated in the northeast part of Italy, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. It is close to Venice (2 hours by train) and very close to the Austrian and Slovenian borders. The region has two official languages: Italian and Friulian, a Rhaeto-Romanic language.

The city of Udine has several interesting historical monuments: on the Piazza Libertà, the most famous square of the city, stands the Loggia di San Giovanni (1533) and the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) in the Venetian-Gothic style (1527), resembling that of the Clock Tower of Piazza San Marco in Venice. On the other side of the Piazza Libertà stands the Loggia del Lionello (1448) in white and pink stone, another example of the Venetian-Gothic style. The city also has a castle, accessible from the square. The Duomo is another curiosity of the city, whose oldest part dates back to 1335. (Picture: Loggia di San Giovanni and Torre dell’Orologio)

The second semester in the University of Udine usually starts in February, which is the right time for Carnival. Udine and many cities around organise different events to celebrate Carnival. I spent the first weekend in Venice and I really enjoyed watching the beautiful Venetian carnival masks and processions on Piazza San Marco.

At the beginning of the semester there are many administrative procedures that need to be done: registration at the international office (only by appointment), at the city hall, at the library, etc. It can be a bit heavy, especially with the Italian working hours (many offices and shops are closed in the afternoon) and for the ones who don’t speak at least a little bit of Italian. But once this is done, you can totally enjoy the Mediterranean way of life in a ‘northern’ city; living and studying in Udine is really pleasant. I met several people, who have been living in Udine for several years and most of them told me the same: “Udine is a small city, but it has everything you need!”

In Udine you can walk everywhere, the city centre is not really big. The university buildings are spread all around the city so you won’t have all your classes in the same classroom. But don’t worry, the maximum you will have to walk is 25 minutes from one university building to another.

The Euroculture classes offered in Udine are mostly based on European history (Modern and Contemporary European history) and Human Rights. Since we were only six Euroculture students in Udine, we were often given the opportunity to work in groups during the class and work together on different projects.

It is not easy to find a place to live in Udine when you intend to stay only for a few months. During the semester I was living in one of the university residences with four other Euroculture students. The residence building is brand new, quite central and a good compromise for a short stay in Udine. Unfortunately it is also a bit expensive.

Udine can be considered a small city, with about 99,000 inhabitants, but it is close to several well-known big cities such as Trieste, Verona, Venice, Padova and Bologna. In the region you can also find many attractive places that are worth a visit such as Palmanova, a city built in the shape of a star; Alquileia with an interesting archaeological site; Grado and Lignano near the sea; L’Isola della Cona, a protected area close to Grado; Gemona del Friuli; Cividale; and many others. The big cities are easy to reach by train (you can travel to Venice in 2 hours for €10, although some trains are more expensive than others) but travelling by car is more convenient and sometimes less expensive if you are willing to visit the villages around or travel to Austria or Slovenia.

An advantage of living in a small city such as Udine is that it is easy to get to know people, especially Erasmus students. There is a great Erasmus association (Udine Babel) in the city, which organises many events such as international dinners or language exchange nights every week. There are many bars, restaurants and typical Italian trattorie that serve great food and wine. One of the most famous drinks in Udine is the Spritz aperol, which you will discover quite soon once you start living there!

One last thing that you should know is that many people in the region don’t speak English (or, if they do, just a little) and it is therefore useful to have some knowledge of Italian before you go to Udine or to take a language class while you are there (offered for free during the semester). Trust me: it makes your life easier if you are able to communicate with the local people in your everyday life. People are so much nicer when they see you trying to speak in Italian!

Emilie Lambiel, Udine Correspondent

Emilie is from Switzerland and holds a bachelor degree in communication sciences from the University of Lugano. She studied Euroculture in the University of Göttingen and the University of Udine, and she is currently doing an internship at the European Film Academy in Berlin. She is interested in cinema, literature, sustainable energies, media and communication. She also enjoys travelling even though she almost never arrives at the same destination as her suitcase. In her future profession, she hopes to find and fulfill a combination of communication, culture and European Studies.