Art bridges cultures in celebration of diplomacy
This month Romania and Australia celebrate 47 years of diplomatic relations and to commemorate the event the Romanian Embassy in Canberra will host a diplomatic reception and a photo exhibition entitled “Dancing with Costică” by Australian artist Jane Long and Romanian photographer Costică Acsinte.
“Celebrating 47 years since Romania and Australia established diplomatic relations is an excellent opportunity to speak about two countries who never fought each other, with little common history but sharing the same European values of democracy, state of law and human rights”, stated Ambassador Bărbulescu. “I will be pleased to welcome participants to the reception I will host on March 27, starting at 4pm, at the Romanian embassy in Canberra. On a personal note (and one of the happy coincidences that might describe relations between Romania and Australia), I was also born in 1968, a memorable year in Romania as the most numerous Romanian generation was born in that year”.
“My choice for the cultural component of this celebration is contemporary Australian artist Jane Long’s photos due to their significance as a space-time portal between Romania and Australia: Costică Acsinte’s black and white photos, taken almost 100 years ago, become the current canvas of Jane Long’s photos. Now we start observing two stories, one about childhood, teenagers, marriage, happiness or the first World War as reflected in Romanian lives overseas and the second story, more suitable and updated to current realities, sometimes more sophisticated and going far away from the original photo. It’s also important to acknowledge contemporary passionate Romanian photographer Cezar Mario-Popescu, who recovered and restored more than 6000 Costică vintage photos, who hopefully will visit Australia soon”.
“I would like to welcome all art lovers to indulge themselves visiting the small but representative photo exhibition “Dancing with Costică”, by Jane Long and Costică Acsinte, from March 30, 2015 until June 30, 2015, at the Romanian Embassy in Canberra, on any working day between 2pm and 5pm”.
The series has received much acclaim internationally but has been particularly popular in Romania where photographer Cezar Popescu has been painstakingly restoring and digitising over 6000 glass plates and prints taken by Costică Ascinte during his long standing career.
Ascinte was a Romanian war photographer active in World War I who later established a photography studio in Slobozia where he worked until he retired in late 1960. He died in January 1984 and his collection was acquired by the Ialomița County History Museum in 1985.
“I wanted to change the context of the images,” says Long. “Photographic practices at the time meant people rarely smiled in photos but that doesn’t mean they didn’t laugh and love. I wanted to introduce that to the images”.
The series has had its controversies with some people suggesting it is disrespectful to use images of people she doesn’t know.
“On the contrary!” she responds. “I wanted people to see these figures as real people, more than just an old photograph. Adding colour completely changes our perception of images.”