by Anna Romanenko


In the social production of their existence, humans inevitably enter into definite relations, which are more or less independent of their will. In their seeming insignificance the individual building blocks of these relations go unnoticed.
The work of Oana Vainer operates in the gray area of these codes, which structure our subjectivity as members of a society. It reveals hidden mechanisms and social choreographies rewriting them into intimate encounters with our
scripted social surroundings. Simple actions, unavoidable particles of the commonsensical collective performance undergo a surgical procedure of aesthetic isolation. Owning a passport, purchasing products, being born some place or another,
or taking the elevator or the stairs when visiting a building once disintegrated, these elements become abstract figures, and get in touch with the artist’s body.
Wandering through the Institut Français in summer 2015, one can encounter a red line drawn through the building’s thoroughfares, up the stairs and down the elevator. The line is composed of small red segments each the trace of a kiss.
In a perpetual attempt of developing a personal relation to the physicality of an institution, The Kiss (2015) on the one hand objectifies the institution in question as an entity capable of a personal bond while at the same time putting
the conditions at stake that enable us to think of a possible relation or modes of exchange between entities. Society, Adam Smith says, is a commercial society. Each of
its members is a merchant. For May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April (2014), Oana Vainer reworked the entirety of
her expenditures of a year into a musical score. The sounds exiting the harmonica, which the artist used in order to musicalize the numbers on her collected bills, sound poor and yet they seem to build up the anthem of a capitalist subject.
The tune _ like an irrational number _ seems to never end and to never show any recognizable pattern. Interestingly the artist abstains from combining the notes into a melody but leaves them solitary and apart. In cinematography a similar
principle was conceived by the Armenian filmmaker Artavazd Peleshyan with what he called „distance montage“. Distance montage, Peleshyan believed, opens up the „seam“ or „interval“ between two elements; instead of patching elements together he advocated „ripping them apart“. This structuring principle is operative in much of Oana Vainer’s work where events and images are repeated rhythmically but altered,
having been channelled by the artist’s experience. The enchanting continuity of the endless line of The Kiss finds its counterpart in Bruce Loves Michelle (2014)
which searches for a way to undo and break open the closed circuit of the loop of affection. Stripping the love lock off its symbolic burden, Oana Vainer takes the object for what it actually is: a lock to be closed and opened. Cracking love locks on the Pont Des Arts and reassembling them into a chain, into a trophy, the artist playfully introduces a new permeability of social constellations by manipulating their physical manifestations. Similarly one can follow this line of distance montage by watching the video work A White Spot (2014/15). Consisting of a slide show of paradisiacal images of a group of friends in nature, the work marks a vanishing point of a _ never to be reached _ communion. Twice removed –the slides bear the imagery of a distant place of Vainer’s home country Romania and the patina of the time when our parents were young _ the work signifies the possibility of a place that
is stripped of social constraints and reveals the white spots of our own desire for identification. Imaging this desire as always already failed by showing a place somewhere far away at a time long gone the sense of nostalgia is counteracted by the intervals, the cuts which open in between the images and are accompanied by the mechanistic sound of the slide projector changing the slides. Depicting human identity not as fixed or authentic but as emerging from images, objects, symbols as well as from hidden codes, explores the material and symbolic foundations of
what it means to be a citizen or belong to a place, a person, a symbol or a concept. Amplifying this violent codification of the self far beyond representational games, the artist lets those codes cut her own flesh. For Perfect Lovers (2015), Oana Vainer transferred the outlines of the two eagles that decorate her two passports on top of each other into her skin by means of a tattooing needle.