Just another boat
when will snow in July and when ships will fly
Natalia Irina Roman
Text by Luísa Santos
The expression “site-specific” runs like a silver thread through the writings of contemporary artists' meditations on art, interpretation and narrative. They don’t shy away from crossing boundaries and using diverse media, evoking and provoking new experiences and interpretations through the use they make of sites. A singular example of emotion and experience in mixed media installation is the work of Natalia Irina Roman.
Natalia Irina Roman has a consistent body of work focusing on storytelling within site-specific installations. Three main elements in every story are time, space (or site), and characters and this is how “Just another Boat, when will snow in July and when ships will fly” (2013) begins to take shape. Taking place in July, in the old town of Lisbon, an area filled with used but also abandoned tram tracks, where horizontal and vertical lines cross, “Just another Boat” (2013) is composed of paper boats - the character in the story - spread along two meters ropes hanging from the ceiling to the floor. At Round The Corner, a small room where every exit is also an entrance, the visitors are invited to pass through a dense curtain of ropes and the space becomes an integral part of the mixed media installation with its mysterious character of passing through, both on horizontal and vertical ways.
Co-inhabiting a space between installation and performance, “Just another Boat” (2013) makes use of the wind present in the room when doors are open and looks differently at every person’s entrance in the space. In the opening day, Sophie Bazy plays an accordion in between the boats. The instrument can be seen both from inside and from the street that here, becomes part of the scenario (or site) for the installation, which is, above all, a story.
“Just another Boat” is part of a series of paper boats installations, site-specific constructions for spaces and, in each site, it tells a different story. “Berlin Flying Ships” (2012), from the same series, was designed for a former ballroom and it showed specificities of the history and architecture of this place (a former ballroom), where it took place, with storytelling Berlin elements. “Just another Boat” (2013), in Lisbon, looks at the multiplicity of possible stories of Round The Corner. Focusing on its present rather than its history, Natalia has visited the space and acknowledged the importance of it being part of a theatre (Teatro da Trindade). Seeing it as a stage in between the stage of the theatre and the stage of the street, and as a place where every imagined reality could have happened, the artist decided that any scenario could be created.
Natalia’s scenario is a fantasy Lisbon where it snows in July and where ships could fly in and from a small room. The specificity of the site and time in Natalia’s “Just another Boat” (2013) is based on its deconstruction. We are in Lisbon, in July. But, we are not in the regular Summer of Lisbon’s July or in the regular reality where ships sail in the sea but never fly in the sky or hang in a room. “Just another Boat, when will snow in July and when ships will fly” invites for imagination, desires and hopes, more than just participation, as we know it.
Natalia Irina Roman (*Bucharest, since 2006 in Berlin)
Natalia studied Visual Arts with a focus on installation art, class of David Levine, at the European College of Liberal Arts and Cultural Policy with a focus on roles of art halls at the Hertie School of Governance. Currently she is pursuing a PhD research on art spaces that lost their initial function and were re-designed through arts and culture. She has worked, among others, for the Martin-Gropius-Bau exhibition centre and the Berlin International Film Festival. Influenced from an early age by sculptor Mircea Roman, she was captivated by the locations where he displayed his sculptures and the way his works would relate to these places. Natalia is specialized in storytelling site-specific mixed media sculptural constructions with the aim of setting up a dialogue platform for visual arts, text, and urban and cultural policies. She has put together large-scale site-specific installations for the industrial Peter-Behrens-Halle and the forgotten ballroom Prachtsaal Neukölln, and started an online storytelling platform about
- Biography by Natalia Irina Roman