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by S.A.B.A

15/03/2017 - 15/04/2017

This month The Unstitute welcomes back to the digital fray Romanian artist supergroup S.A.B.A. with the socialist sci-fi feature 'Life is a Bitch'. Having screened with us twice before, we cannot help but be excited by the tenacity and aesthetic subtlety reached in this video short which reflects over questions and probabilities currently faced by a globalised political consciousness in the wake of the schism of the European project and the resurgent cancer of fascism.

Life is a Bitch: a sci-fi video-novel which tries to interrogate the nature of borders, freedom and resistance. The action of the short-film finds its set in a possible future where the Left has the opportunity to build its project on Europa, moon of planet Jupiter, and follows the struggle of a left-minded couple which couldn’t afford the flight to the “Socialist Moon”.

S.A.B.A (Silvia Amancei & Bogdan Armanu) is an artist couple living and activating in the city of Iasi, Romania. They graduated BA (2013) and MA (2015) studies at “George Enescu” University of Arts (Faculty of Visual Art and Design) in Iasi and have participated in several international alternative education programs: “Summer School for Engaged Art”, project developed by “Chto Delat?” artistic group at Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation (2015, Berlin, Germany), “Autumn School. The 3 s: the space, the social and the sensorium” at University of Applied Arts (2016, Vienna, Austria).
Working within the conceptual framework of new-media and having at the same time a background in fine arts, respectively mural art (Silvia) and painting (Bogdan). In their practice they are attempting to transgress the physical and discursive borders of the object (and the labour inscribed in it), searching for methods through which art and artistic means can be instrumentalized in order to overexcite the ability to look beyond capitalism and create a (common) future.


How did SABA get started, and how has working together effected your practice?

We started collaborating, exchanging ideas and debating since our first year at faculty. From the first day we met we felt that we were gravitating around the same interest, more exactly, the meaning and even futility of our practice and lives. Even though at times it may be challenging to overcome subjectivity, we consider that the fact that there are two of us, two brains, two sets of eyes, two souls, helps us in our research and saves us from complacent.

In your film 'Life is a bitch' you recall a lot of Soviet era imagery and ideals. How do you see those influences entering contemporary consciousness and what effect might this have?

It is true that we tried and we did instrumentalize a number of discursive and visual tools. We used them because, first of all, they are already imbedded in our consciousness through their museification and ongoing recuperation and, secondly, maybe we miss those unlived times when people used to live for a common future ideal. Unfortunately, their content is diluted and so their potentiality. Today, these imageries have become another consumption object along other lifestyle imagery.

Where did the science fiction element of the film originate from, and what do you feel the relationship is between Socialism and science fiction?

We used this framework mainly because our interest in poetry. We understood that in order to politicize your art practice and not scare the possible audience with you radicality, one should recuperate aesthetics. The attraction towards aesthetic instruments is so rooted in the western cultural construction that it feels almost futile if you want to change it. Especially when this is not your priority. We want to share political ideas and questions, and in this process, poetry/ aesthetics could be a tool. And for a long time art was understood for its capacity to be an instrument, to be part of the machine, critically engaging the collective imagination. Today, we assist at another form of political engagement of art and culture; diversity. Culture today, in opposition with the discursive approach of modernity, has the purpose of fragmenting the social landscape.

At this juncture of time many artists might question the validity of art whatsoever - perhaps due to economic restraints, or from the sheer oversaturation of media already out there. How do you see art surviving as a necessary practice in the current and future ages?

We believe that for the sake of the future, art should continue to exist as a mirror to our existence. Because we have to adapt to the new rhythm of life and digest information at different, more accelerated pace, art can become that oasis of reflection upon life with all of its earthly implications. In this situation where everyone is constantly producing and consuming visual information, art may seem to be outdated and in some cases, it really is, but we shouldn’t overlook its potential in creating dreams, future realities or translating the world for those who don’t have the time to investigate. Art must adapt itself to the needs of the present in order to survive and in order to do that is not enough to merge with technology but to commit to be true.

The Projection Room at The Unstitute offers a virtual environment for creative experiments and self-empowerment over archaic creative institutions. See who has been selected this month, and find out more about their creative practice. Consider applying to the Participation Programme at The Unstitute.