Bureau of Melodramatic Research (Irina Gheorghe & Alina Popa)


Irina Gheorghe and Alina Popa founded The Bureau of Melodramatic Research in 2009 as a dependent institution investigating the affective modulations of contemporary politics and the emotional performance of labour in the new economy. Their explorations gradually extended to the intricate workings of alien, anonymous passions which connect us to an unhuman world at the core of ourselves. BMR projects include self-help guides and performances around the etiquette of crying in public, safety trainings for the Post-Fordist emotional workplace, cooking shows using lovegold as a composite for an expanded economy, and, more recently, a road movie relocating the tropes of classic 50’s Hollywood melodrama to industrial sceneries in today’s Romania. The Bureau's work was shown in HOME Manchester, Trafó House of Contemporary Arts Budapest, Pratt Manhattan Gallery New York, Times Museum Guangzhou, WING Hong Kong, MNAC Bucharest, bak Utrecht, mumok Vienna, CNDB Bucharest, DEPO Istanbul, Ujazdowsky Castle Warsaw, messagesalon Zurich, Center for Visual Introspection Bucharest, etc.

Gross National Heel

digital prints on paper, 50X70 cm

Moldova’s Gross National Income is one of the lowest in Europe. The economic crevasse at the EU border is countered by wider railway lines and higher heels worn on women’s stilettos. While the financial situation is extremely uneven across the ex-Soviet territory, the train lines and the bodily elevation of the female population are rather constant, responding to invisible biometrics. The imperative of verticality, typical of the civilized world, is completed by the one of height. The skyscraper and the space race, from the Cold War period, are gradually replaced by the new high altitude standard: the heel pedestal competition.

In the public space in Chisinau, the totalitarian sound of heels is often the only feminine voice. It obscures through frequency and intensity the spoken discourse, the controversies, the gossips or neighbourhood arguments. The groundlessness of the high heeled Moldavian women is visible both on the sidewalks and on the billboards. It seems to be a resistance movement in the flood of nationalist slogans aiming at luring the citizens closer to the ground, but paradoxically the same company is responsible for both campaigns.

BMR has chosen several locations in Chisinau to collect numeric data regarding the height of the heels, thus warning against a lacuna in the official statistics. The results of the survey will be displayed in place of origin, in the form of a graphic of the heel height variation in time. This will be shown both in the public space and in the state institutions situated in the immediacy of the studied area. BMR recognises an institutional disregard of the relevance of such data. In the spotlight are: The Romanian Embassy, The Stock Exchange, The National Commission for the Financial Market, The State University, The Center for Contemporary Art [KSA:K].

All the graphics will eventually be displayed at the National Statistics Bureau of Moldova.

Exhibition history:

2011 Just Another Brick in the Wall, curated by Olga Stefan, Barbara Seiler, Zurich (CH)

2010 Chișinău - Art, Research in the Public Sphere, curated by Stefan Rusu, Chisinau (MD)

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