Ion Grigorescu. Dialogue with President Ceaușescu. 1978

Ion Grigorescu Dialogue with President Ceaușescu 1978

  • Not on view

One of the first Romanian Conceptual artists, Grigorescu has made significant contributions in exploring the relationship between performance and recorded image. Part of the Romanian “post-Actionist” movement in the 1970s, he has produced numerous films, photographs, and works on paper exploring his roles as an individual and an artist under a despotic political regime. Grigorescu made his work in a period of sociopolitical decline: in the late 1970s, Romania’s president, Nicolae Ceausescu—also Secretary General of the Romanian Communist Party—enforced policies that impoverished the nation, increased the authority of the police, and imposed a cult of personality. (In 1989 Ceausescu was overthrown and executed, the first revolution that was broadcast live on television.) Grigorescu used film to record intimate experiments that he staged secretly in his home, using his own body.

In Dialogue with Ceausescu, the artist carries on an imagined conversation with the Romanian president, also performed by himself. Again acting in double, opposing roles, Grigorescu wears everyday clothing, while Grigorescu-as-Ceausescu wears a suit, tie, and exaggerated mask. The film begins with the phrase, “If the people cannot rule, they should at least criticize!”

Gallery label from Performing Histories: Live Artworks Examining the Past, September 12, 2012–March 8, 2013.
Additional text

In the 1970s Grigorescu's practice was driven by resistance to a particular moment of political oppression in Romania, which saw the rise of the cult of the leader and of an increasingly powerful police state. The schizophrenic character of authority underlies Dialog cu Presedintele Ceausescu (Dialogue with President Ceausescu) In the film the artist plays two opposing roles, appearing alternatively as Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu—wearing a mask of the leader's face—and as a common citizen who wants to ask Ceausescu questions and confront him about the decline of the people’s welfare. Grigorescu performed in the intimacy of his own apartment, under the scrutiny of the camera lens, enacting the trauma of political reality in communist society.

Gallery label from Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980, September 5, 2015–January 3, 2016.
8mm film transferred to16 mm film (black and white, silent)
7:11 min.
Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds
Object number
© 2023 Ion Grigorescu
Media and Performance

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