Online Seminar

Tracing Memory

View List

Tracing Memory

I am Vlad Basarab and I am a ceramics artist. I am currently residing and working in Romania, where I am originally from. I also lived in the US for 18 years, where I worked as an artist. In the past 7 years, I have also been working part of the year in China.

This is an example of some work that I made in China. I made it in 2017 and it is out of porcelain, fine Chinese porcelain from Jingdezhen, famous for thousands of years of ceramics history. It represents a book. I chose the book as a symbol of collective memory because I think that books, over the years, have been means of transmitting knowledge. To me, the idea of saving knowledge is important.
A lot of my work from the Archaeology of Memory and Books of Fire Series focused on collective memory and the idea of saving it. There is quite an interesting connection between books and clay because some of the first means of transmitting knowledge were the clay tablets and not only that, ceramics itself is a form of language because it transmitted knowledge for thousands of years, maybe 10,000 years. A shard from 5000 years ago may say more about history than other archaeological finds.
I am firing these books and I cannot not think about what happened to books, about tomecide, how books were burnt and destroyed, how culture or certain cultures were endangered at the hand of totalitarian regimes.
While I do not want my work necessarily to be political, I want it to ask questions and I want my audience to ask questions about the importance of saving historic truth, and thinking about how information has been altered and how information is been transmitted. I think that the most important aspect is if my audience can pause and think about their own family history, about their own culture and about their origin.

Traces / Breaking Through 2019

Part of the Traces Series of installations, Breaking Through, expresses the human aspiration for a higher dimension, a spiritual and noble cause, in defiance of material restraints. It is a metaphysical state of trying to overcome the limitations of physicality.
The feet, ascending on the stairs, also may speak for the journey victims of political and cultural censorship took without betraying their spiritual ideals.
The ascending feet are meant to parallel the idea of transcendence and embody the spiritual connection to our ancestors. The illuminating steps echo the spiritual guidance and protection of our ancestors on our journey.