stART in Timisoara – a platform for understanding the phenomenon of contemporary art

Author: Aradi Vladimir Huba


The stART – WATCH, LISTEN, THINK project is part of the program of mediation in culture within the ArtEncounters 2021 Biennial of Contemporary Art, held this year between October 1 and November 7 in Timisoara and conceived by the ArtEncounters Foundation and the Cultural Association Contrasens.


stART has opened a communication platform for critical analysis of works of art, enabling a better understanding of the phenomenon of contemporary art and recognizing the importance of the presence of culture in everyday life.
The mediation program included guided tours, workshops, introductory courses in contemporary art and discussions on the topic of critical thinking and art in everyday life.


Within the stART project, a cooperation was established between the Cultural Association Contrasens from Timisoara and MLMDC from Novi Sad (Minoriti & Local Media Development Center). In this way, the stART project brought the two future European Capitals of Culture closer.


The novelty introduced by Contrasens at this year’s Biennale is the ArtSens newspaper, which was published once a week during the Biennale.


A magazine in print and online format that follows the course of a cultural project is something completely new.


We asked Ioanna Terhes, a cultural mediator, art critic and historian and curator at the Biennale, who was directly involved in the creation of the ArtSens newspaper.



How did the public react to this novelty? In what way has the newspaper changed the ArtEncounters Biennial 2021 relative to the previous ones?
As a person directly involved in the creation of the ArtSens newspaper, I had a lot of emotions for its launch. It was definitely a unique experience for the whole team where we had the mission to offer the public from Timișoara, and not only, the freshest information on a weekly basis.


The newspaper was extremely well received by everyone!


Many people visited the Biennial, for example, only because they met in the morning in the cafes in the center of Timisoara with one of the issues, or saw the newspaper at someone’s home, or all sorts of such events. We also had the pleasure of receiving messages from all over the country asking us to send them a copy of the newspaper, just to enjoy the experience of reading those articles in physical format, not just digital… because due to pandemic conditions, many people were not able to visit the Biennial and so they were a little closer to the exhibitions.



During MLMDC’s visit to Timisoara, the staff had the opportunity to visit FABER – The Capacity Building. FABER is a new space within Timisoara European Capital of Culture 2023, which was created on the site of a former light bulb factory. FABER operates on the model of a Cultural Station, as a place for various cultural programs on the one hand and on the other as a place that gives opportunity to people who are discriminated for any reason and can hardly “get on their feet” to develop their ideas into businesses. One part of FABER is intended for such spaces, where people can move in with their stores, completely free of charge.
What you think of FABER – The Capacity Builiding, what is your impression of that space and how do you want it to evolve?


FABER is a huge, huge joy for everyone in Timișoara! We all know the efforts made in that space to get to where it is today, and the fact that although the whole complex was opened some time ago, it is still in a continuous change, in a continuous improvement. For me, it is a place full of warmth, of open-minded people who are always ready to work at any moment, and in the end all the FABER team do is to strengthen the community in Timișoara through the diversity of implemented programs.



A part of the stART program was the exhibition Invisible Cities/Imaginary Lands a project curated by Diana Marinca and organized by the Contrasens Association.
The exhibition is based on visual and conceptual research and analysis of legendary places shrouded in mystery, which over time have generated expedition journeys, stories and visual projections. The exhibition is structured around the duality of the mythology of knowledge and creation, where choice means creating a new set of values that determine the development of a new identity, separate from stereotypes and predictable existential paths. We asked Ioanna:


How did the exhibition Invisible Cities/Imaginary Lands go through – what are the people’s opinions, how many people visited the exhibition?


As every autumn, the exhibition organized by the Contrasens Cultural Association has been long awaited. It was seen as a fresh exhibition with a unique concept and thought out to the last detail, from the selection or commissioning of the exhibited works, to the guidance in the exhibition space through the two wings, Terminal A and Terminal B, or the “plane tickets” offered to those who visited us on the opening day. Our mediators met with approximately 1,200 people between October 15th and November 15th.
The next ArtEncounter Biennale will be held in 2023, the year in which Timisoara will be the European Capital of Culture.


What are your plans for the next ArtEncounter Biennial in 2023? Do you expect it to go bigger and in what way in particular?


Our plans for the next ArtEncounters Biennial are to further develop the current mediation program, given that it would be the third edition we would be involved in.



Yes, given the complexity of the two mediation programs that the biennial has run this year, the stART program and the MyArtEncounters program, the next edition of the Biennial will certainly be even more special. We understand that we need to bring not only young and so-called new audiences who do not meet contemporary art every day, but also audiences who are often ignored, such as children from disadvantaged areas, people with disabilities, the elderly and participants from many certain groups and so on, and this direction will certainly be continued in the future mediation programs that we will develop.
Also, the ArtSens newspaper will be continued as mentioned above, as well as various other methods, some of which we have implemented since this year, through which we can bring the public closer to art and at the same time to be cautious in these uncertain times.