Appointment with History /Intalnire cu Istoria
Intalnire cu Istoria /Manifestul Comunismului, installation, 5th Berlin Biennial, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2008
The Appointment with History series of paintings was initiated in 2007 and the first painting in the series depicts an anti-WTO demonstration in Basel that we witnessed, an encounter that triggered this process of reflection through imagery on present-day social unrest. The paintings realistically document moments of social unrest - protests, demonstrations, political action, climate protests, refugees, and war. Appointment with History functions as an attempt to interogate the medium of painting, to return to and question the political meaning of the artistic act, and the realism of representation is trying to respond to the idea of the image that mirrors the world. The paintings are articulated together like a timeline, a diary evoking the ongoing social struggle to imagine a different future. What emerges from the series of images is crowd dynamics, a collective body invoking another possible world. The paintings have so far been installed in different modalities, such as in relation to an audio reading of the Communist Manifesto, in an installation at the 5th Berlin Biennial that also included a podium with a lectern on which the microphone was left open (free speech), thus becoming a political agitation chamber, or presented in dialogue with the supporting structures conceived by artist Celine Condorelli, like utopian assemblages. For the installation at the Stefania Palace in Timisoara, we decided to suspend the paintings in the derelict central space of the hall, the assembly of paitings becoming a crowd-demonstration that floats in the space of the hall.

"Intalnire cu Istoria [Appointment with History] (2007 – ongoing) is a series of paintings, reproducing nineteenth-century realist techniques and representing a wide range of scenes, from a recent anti-capitalist demonstration in Basel to a queue of people standing outside a department store under communism, to crowds on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz in 1989, to a scene from the film Imposibila iubire [Impossible Love] (1983), where a worker in the 1950s contemplates the world that is being constructed. The series revisits the history of a realist language for social thinking in art and makes an urgent claim for the current agency of realism, one that is fully aware of its complicated past instrumentalizations." 
excerpt from The History of Us All by Cosmin Costinas, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, monographic publication published by BAK and Post Editions, 2009.

Intalnire cu Istoria /Appointment with History, installation, Chronic Desire - Sete Cronica, Palatul Stefania, Timisoara, 2023

Vatamanu and Tudor conceive of the spatial and temporal dimensions of history as dialectically interrelated in their work; they are not recycling, revisiting, reviving, or re-enacting. By critically diverting their attention away from the merely temporal and by mapping this metaphorically overburdened and historically scarred terrain, they are starting to measure, to return once more to Nancy, “the simultaneity and distance between us.” In this way, they can be said to productively interfere with standard historical paradigms and conceived notions of historical experience. As such, Vatamanu and Tudor are valuable escorts for those who wish to write the history of the present.
excerpt from Mapping the History of the Present by Vivian Rehberg, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, monographic publication published by BAK and Post Editions, 2009.



Dansul (Ende Gelände) /2022

Fuera Pena, Burning Effigy, 2014,
Mexico City / 2016-18

Ende Gelaende 2 / 2020



Zone a defendre 1 / 2020

Carnaval of the Dead /2022

Somnul (studiu) / 2019

6 december2016 #No DAPL North Dakota2017

Black Lives Matter /2022

October 2020, Warsaw /2021

Black summer (Australia) /2022

Ende Gelaende 1 / 2019

Zone a defendre 2 / 2020
“Haven’t we had enough?” This question, posed by the late writer and critic Igor Zabel (and the title of a one-essay publication that BAK, basis voor actuele kunst issued in 2004), doggedly came to my mind when, while walking through the 2008 Berlin Biennial, in the distance I saw the painting series Întâlnire cu Istoria [Appointment with History] (2007–2009) by Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor. The question that Zabel was really asking was, of course, haven’t we had enough of Eastern Europe? Thus when seeing what at a superficial glance appeared to be an old-fashioned series of paintings representing leftist revolutionaries somewhere in the “former East,” I had to think: yes, enough indeed. Yet upon closer inspection it became clear that depicted on the compact canvases were not communist-orchestrated crowds from somewhere in Romania in the second half of the twentieth century—as one might fairly if simplistically assume given the artists’ origin—but images of very recent anti- globalization demonstrations that the artists observed while in the Swiss city of Basel.

Through this series of paintings Vatamanu and Tudor, an artist pair working together since 2000, perspicaciously examine symbols of collective revolt and solidarity past, present, and future while baring witness to how the revolutionary movement migrates across various geopolitical topographies and historic times, always in search of a better world. They join Zabel’s weighing in on the question of whether we have or haven’t had enough of Eastern Europe. “Yes and no,” Zabel answered. “’Yes,’ if we mean the political and cultural divisions and strategies of marginalization, ethnicization, exclusion, and (controlled) inclusion. But one cannot resolve such divisions by pretending that they do not exist and that they are simply an external circumstance that does not touch the ‘essence.’ It is only through repetition, through returning to and reworking the trauma that it can perhaps be slowly resolved, and not by repressing, ignoring, and forgetting it. ‘No,’ if we mean a reevaluation of the social and cultural potentials of Eastern Europe and their ability to transform and thereby transform European identity.”

There is however another critical implication that works like Întâlnire cu Istoria—among a number of Vatamanu and Tudor’s other pieces—make me think of, especially at this moment in time when we celebrate twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. That these works so masterfully complicate the way we read through the various histories and political imaginaries has to do with the artists’ radical move away from thinking in juxtapositions and towards seeing the world as a complex entan- glement (Sarat Maharaj) of various competing realities. Contrary to that, our mindset is still to a large extent today imprisoned by Cold War dualities, though it seems that it is about time to begin recognizing that not only “over there” but also here equally, 1989 caused a seismic shift in society, politics, economy, and culture, with far reaching effects of global consequence.

Even the two decades that have passed since these major political changes were not long enough to bring a transformation in the mindset of those of us in the West, which would be necessary to understand how much we and our little western province have altered and been impacted by the immense changes in the world at large. With little self-reflection and with an attachment to past hegemony, we continue to believe that it is we who provide the rest of the world with the universal values to base their lives upon; we who write history, the history of art included; and that it is our right to extend to others permission to think (or not think) otherwise. It is not. The current economic crisis, the continuous rise of right-wing populism, unmanaged problems with migration, the wars waged on our behalf, and many other problems one could enumerate here, attest to this failure to rethink the world out of its asymmetries, and to re-imagine ourselves away from a static, superior place in the world.
excerpt from Foreword by Maria Hlavajova, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, monographic publication published by BAK and Post Editions, 2009.
Intalnire cu Istoria, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, series of paintings and Display installation in collaboration with Celine Condorelli,
exhibition views, Omnia Communia Deserta, La Loge, Brussels, 2020; images by Lola Pertsowsky.

Vatamanu and Tudor have continued their perhaps inevitable movement toward a dialectical realism, very consciously intensifying their dialogue with both “socialist painting” and the halting renewal of leftist politics today. Their contribution to the 5th Berlin Biennial in 2008 consisted of a space with rows of empty chairs and a lectern. On the surrounding walls, there were small format paintings that seemed to contain all the mud of real socialism’s agonizing “transition” to real capitalism and vice versa, all the accumulated dirt. Kept in a small, nearly dilettantish format, they have been executed in a style that balances between a socialist spezzatura (the light touch of Yuri Pimenov or Alexander Labas) and a deep, muddy melancholia. Historical scenes and contemporary protesting crowds with red flags are intermixed. Side by side we see imagery familiar to us from recent anti-globalization demonstrations in Basel, Rostock, and Genoa along with pictures that show the crowds in Timisoara, Bucharest, and on Berlin Alexanderplatz in 1989. In addition there are images from the mediated, nearly nostalgic socialist every- day: scenes from the Romanian blockbuster Imposibila iubire [Impossible Love] (1983) and images of people queuing for bread—images of protest and expropriation, images of resignation and hope. The empty lectern seems to invite the audience to become the subject of its own history and to hold a political meeting in the exhibition space. Yet an audio soundtrack of a voice reading Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto blocks this political speech, and also interferes with any apolitical, purely aesthetic pleasure the paintings might otherwise provide. Anything that is said or seen here must be said or seen against the backdrop of the Manifesto.
The dissonance here is very clear: Vatamanu and Tudor’s paintings show that they, in some sense, are sympathetic to one of the Manifesto’s central ideas, namely that all history is the history of class struggles, so that Genoa and Timisoara belong to the same series, even if the former was “against” a na- tional communist regime and the latter “against” the regime of global neolib- eral capitalism. But at the same time, their use of audio creates an interference, pointing toward a historical rupture that makes it difficult if not impossible to reassume this continuity, even from afar. From the Manifesto to the chapter on primitive accumulation discussed above, clearly Marx’s intention was to create maximum distance to a possible violence to come, a violence inevita- ble in the process of an as-of-yet-incomplete bourgeois revolution. This is a project that received new impulses from the collapse of state socialism, a project that may now be coming closer and closer to its logical end. Given these conditions, we might well read Vatamanu and Tudor’s works as more rigorous and honest than so many other superficial, overly conscious identi- fications with a diffuse “leftist” criticality found in contemporary art and culture today.
excerpt from The Wrong Version of Kapital by David Riff, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, monographic publication published by BAK and Post Editions, 2009.


Intalnire cu Istoria / Manifestul Comunismului, installation, 5th Berlin Biennial, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2008;
Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), Istanbul, 2011

"In their series of paintings Appointment with History/Intalnire cu Istoria, Vatamanu and Tudor enact processes of collective and personal remembering. The catalyst for the series was an anti-capitalist demonstration the artists witnessed in Basel, with its insignia and banners familiar to them from their youth in socialist Romania. The compact, small-format paintings are products of a painterly exploration undertaken in quest of a new symbol of communist utopia, which includes its own failures and scars. They are built up layer by layer in a process deliberately reminiscent of the style, coloration, and paint application of nineteenth-century landscape painting. The artist duo research their motifs of utopian ideologies and their implications for social conditions in archives, schoolbooks, photographs, and propaganda films, and come up with familiar images: people queuing outside a supermarket under communism, crowds on Berlin's Alexanderplatz in 1989, or a scene from the film Imposibila iubire (Impossible love, 1983), in which a worker contemplates his vision of the world as it is constructed.
The audio-installation Communist Manifesto/Manifestul comunismului comprises a lectern with live microphone, rows of chairs, and loudspeakers over which a reading of Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto (1848) is audible. Overlaying the images, the soundtrack calls on the viewer/listener to become conscious of ideological stratifications and to question the division of theory and practice."
Silke Baumann, excerpt from 5th Berlin Biennial catalogue

Demonstratie la Basel / 2007

27 ianuarie 2007, Basel / 2007 

Syria / 2011

May 2011, Puerta del Sol, Madrid / 2011

Tear down this wall / 2014

20 decembrie 1989, Timisoara / 2008

March 2011, From Tripoli to Lampedusa / 2011

28 March 2009, London / 2009

20 february 1991, Tirana / 2009

March 2009, Downing Street / 2014

February 2011, Tahrir square / 2011

August 2008, Bagua Province, Peru / 2011

Nu ne otraviti pamantul / Don't poisson our land / 2014

May Day, Berlin Kreuzberg / 2009

2 June 2007, Rostock / 2008

Monumentul comunismului / 2007

Imposibila iubire / 2007

Coada la ulei / 2007

18 decembrie 2005, Hong Kong / 2008

Police guarding the christmass tree, 2008, Athens / 2010

4 november 1989, Berlin / 2008

3 nov 2011, General Strike, Oakland / 2014

February 2011, Tunisian boat arriving in Lampedusa / 2011

Si pietrele simt / 2016

Migrant camp burning in Calais / 2016

Baricade, Iranian Green Revolution / 2010

22 decembrie 1989, Timisoara / 2008

Black Block Rostock / 2008

Demonstratie la Rostock / 2008

Bougainville, Coconut Revolution / 2011

Stop Trading with our Future / 2009

Rosa Luxemburg / 2008

Imposibila iubire / 2007

Undoing History / 2007

Imposibila iubire / 2007

Anarcho-Syndicalist Flags / 2014

anti G8, Genova / 2008

ianuarie 2008, Davos / 2008

Fur Solidaritat und Revolution / 2008

Camion / 2007

Rosa Luxemburg
Order Prevails in Berlin


What does the entire history of socialism and of all modern revolutions show us? The first spark of class struggle in Europe, the revolt of the silk weavers in Lyon in 1831, ended with a heavy defeat; the Chartist movement in Britain ended in defeat; the uprising of the Parisian proletariat in the June days of 1848 ended with a crushing defeat; and the Paris commune ended with a terrible defeat. The whole road of socialism -- so far as revolutionary struggles are concerned -- is paved with nothing but thunderous defeats. Yet, at the same time, history marches inexorably, step by step, toward final victory! Where would we be today without those "defeats," from which we draw historical experience, understanding, power and idealism? Today, as we advance into the final battle of the proletarian class war, we stand on the foundation of those very defeats; and we can do without any of them, because each one contributes to our strength and understanding.


"Order prevails in Berlin!" You foolish lackeys! Your "order" is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will "rise up again, clashing its weapons," and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing:
I was, I am, I shall be!

Written: January 14, 1919
Source: Gessemelte Werke
Publisher: Dietz Verlag
First Published: Rote Fahne, 14 January 1919
Translated: Marcus
Online Version: 1999
Transcription: A. Lehrer/Brian Basgen


You cannot talk about proper elections, as there was nobody to vote for. We had to go to the ballots for the same reason we do it today, because they put a stamp on your I.D. card. The only name on the list was Ceausescu's so… As for the other elections, for mayors, secretaries, they would fiercely fight among themselves. One year I was appointed supervisor and also had to count the votes. When I opened the ballots I would see all sorts of curses at those whose name were on the list, but we pretended we hadn't seen anything, otherwise we would have a difficult time with the party supervisors. The fouled ballot paper were counted together with the valid ones (I don't know how many times I had to count the books to match the figures demanded from the top); they knew there were let's say 3500 people registered to vote a certain poling station, of which 3498 were needed to submit a valid ballot paper and to vote for Ceausescu.
Enache Dumitru, mecanic at Ciclop

Martor, Anthropology Review, nr 7, 2002, pp59 - 60