by Larisa Crunțeanu
(3’, 2016, Romania)
In 1978, contemporary performance artist avant la lettre, Andy Kaufman, joins the reality show “The Dating Game” in which three contestants compete to go on a date with a “lovely lady.” Performing his alter persona, the exotic and gullible Latka Garvas, Kaufman pretends that he does not understand the rules and thus refuses to submit himself to the games of the entertainment industry. In 2010, performance artist Ann Hirsch becomes a contestant in the US-reality television show “Frank the Entertainer in a Basement Affair.” Hirsch is supposed to compete with fifteen other women to win the heart of Frank Maresca. But Hirsch is not really trying. Instead, she seems to be competing with Frank for becoming the center of his show’s attention. Ulteriorly, the artist uses the footage to generate her own work which reflects on the derogatory stereotypes associated to female reality show participants. Following this lineage, in 2015 Larisa Crunțeanu auditions for “Forbidden Love,” a soap-opera series broadcasted at peak hours, which presents cases of socially unacceptable romance. The show usually casts non-actors of all ages who would like to try their luck with acting. In it, Crunțeanu obtains the part of Petronela Mirea, a spoiled 30 years old involved with Răzvan, a handsome accountant working in her father’s company. The plot revolves around Răzvan’s preference for older women. Head over heels, Petronela tries to get Răzvan to commit but Răzvan is lukewarm about their relationship. All hell breaks lose when he falls in love with mature business woman Mariana. Desperate and humiliated, Petronela stops at nothing to get her man back: she asks for her father’s help to separate Răzvan and Mariana. She begs him to seduce Mariana. As a serious man, Mr Mirea, is reluctant. He does not want to jeopardize his marriage to Petronela’s mother. But in the end, hurt to see his see his only daughter humiliated, he gives in. The dialogues are replete with anecdotes, sayings and cautionary tales about the relationship between a younger man and an older woman. Cunningly, Crunțeanu strives to realize her works by proxy: she participates in television shows, reportages, newsreels and films, and then recontextualizes the footage. Sly and chameleonic, she manages to insert herself into mainstream media to subvert its logic and values.
Larisa Crunțeanu studied Photography and Moving Image and is a current PhD candidate at the National University of Arts, Bucharest. Her practice as performer, video artist and sound collector moves from reality to fiction in an endless conversation with the viewer, encouraging the emergence of new practices. Many of her projects reflect on the notion of collaboration and ideas existing behind objects and stories. She is also an independent curator who ran the influential project space Atelier 35 in Bucharest together with Xandra Popescu until 2016. Crunțeanu has exhibited throughout Europe and has performed for institutions such as the Venice Biennale and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.