'Diana Poput’s art residency in Lodi, Lombardy, Italy, took a drastic turn after the region, as the first one in Europe, shut down due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The artist documented one week of her residency in isolation in collaboration with ARTCONNECT Magazine.
When Diana Poput started the Erasmus+ Program at Laurentiu Adrian Craioveanu in January, she could’ve never guessed that she would spend the spring all alone. Now, at the end of the program, she’s reflecting on her experiences. Read the diary below.
Diana Poput is a visual artist from Romania, who’s working on her Ph.D. at the University of Art and Design, Cluj-Napoca.
During the spring of 2020, she’s been part of the Mobility project by Erasmus+, a funded EU program for developing and sharing knowledge and experience at institutions and organizations in different countries. Diana Poput’s Mobility experience has taken the form similar to a residency, and that’s how it’s described in this article.'
Published 11th May 2020, Written by Artconnect
The day starts about the same, as it has for the last two months.
I wake up around 8:30 a.m., and after my morning routine, talk with my boyfriend and with my family through a video call, followed by a coffee. I enjoy my latte in silence, looking out at the inner courtyard filled with vegetation, a place where sometimes, on hot days, I go to work and enjoy the flowers.
I’m not hungry yet, so I start my work. I’m creating a large-scale (100/150 cm) Finestra (Window), from the series with the same name, which is very close to completion.
At lunchtime, I have my first meal, after which I prepare the surface for a new Window. I always work with joy and enthusiasm, but when I get new ideas, the excitement is overflowing, and I can even forget to eat. But, today, after a few hours of layering, I stop to let the pieces dry.
Even if I have an introspective nature and am inclined towards loneliness, there have been times when the isolation triggered a certain level of discomfort. However, thanks to my way of being, so far, I can say that I coped well with a residency under these circumstances.
It’s raining lightly in the morning. I stay in bed for a while, listening to the gentle drops hitting the roof tiles.
The motivation to start the day is not as strong every morning, knowing that the day will be repeated as yesterday, as a week ago, or as a month ago… but after I gather enough will to get out of bed, I manage to notice the small differences that distinguish one day from another.
These are found in the meals I eat, the clothes I wear, the projects I work on, the people I interact with online, the discussions, and the information I accumulate by reading or watching documentaries. Eventually, the enthusiasm appears, but there are also exceptions.
My residency is not dramatically affected by isolation. However, I can’t say that it doesn’t suffer changes. It was supposed to be a very dynamic period. There were three exhibitions planned during my five months here, two of which were personal. They could no longer be realized. These exhibitions were opportunities to meet important people: gallerists, collectors, and famous artists. Articles about the exhibitions would also have appeared in the local press.
After running out of certain work supplies, I could no longer continue the projects I started. But, I got new ideas and brought them to life using the materials I had around me. I can see this as a positive thing, where creativity was stimulated by the pressure of the situation.
The day starts differently. Around 6 o’clock, I hear a blackbird singing. I had the feeling I was dreaming, but the loud sound woke me up, although my sleep was deep and restful.
I open the window. The air is fresh and cool, and the sky inky blue. A multitude of other birds can be heard in the morning silence. It’s a beautiful moment reminding me that every day is a gift.
Beauty is relevant to me, even in isolation. On certain days I choose to wear one of my favorite shirts or dresses, when I eat, I arrange my meal as if I were sharing it with others for the sake of aesthetics.
I find a positive charge in beauty and feel some kind of liveliness when I’m surrounded by a certain aesthetic.
I’m preparing the surface of a new work, it’s a process of several days, tomorrow this stage will be complete. The two main series of works in progress are Windows and Spheres.
Windows was born three years ago in Milan, influenced by H. R. Patapievici’s theses on the unseen. Initiated on the background of existential concerns and triggered by my emotional fragility that fell into a subtle existential crisis. Windows were and are a mental refuge and the expression of the desire to access the impalpable.
The second series, Spheres, that I started here, but which has preoccupied me for a long time, was inspired by Dante’s Paradise, and Patapievici’s thesis on Paradise. I wanted to render it, not as a place or form defined in Christianity, but as a symbol of the paradisiacal state, one that could be understood by any person in any culture.
I wanted it to be a metaphor for infinite light, which also incorporates the idea of the blooming hope, and the continuous rebirth, using the aesthetics associated with the white rose, the egg, moon, and pearl.
I have breakfast around 10 o’clock and then enjoy my latte slowly while working, it’s a normal day.
I often stop to watch through the half-open window, the lumps of poplar pollen floating calmly everywhere, and the pigeons sitting on the roof in front of me.
Today, the sky has a faded shade, being covered by translucent clouds predicting rain. Italy is now summarized in this window and the blooming courtyard.
I remember my first encounter with this region of Italy, Lombardy.
Three years ago, I was in Milan for the first time, with an Erasmus scholarship, to study a semester at the Academia di belle arti di Brera. I was eager to make connections, and I ended up meeting Laurentiu Craioveanu, who had finished his studies at Brera. This grew into a longlasting professional relationship based on appreciation and respect.
When I had the opportunity to go with the Erasmus scholarship again, I wanted to have a residency in Lodi, in the artist’s workshop, because we had many projects to develop here, and we also had his workshop as a space to do exhibitions in, with a history of successful shows, curated by Laurentiu.
I came here with a specific goal: to work as much and as productively as possible. Milan was familiar to me. And I could handle the language. I wanted to be able to communicate with people and be in a familiar place where I had acquaintances because it’s my first time living abroad by myself.
The sky is full of layered gray clouds. It is cold outside, and the atmosphere is quite oppressive. I stand in front of the window, listening to the heavy rain while working.
I remember that Andrei Plesu, a Romanian essayist, said that we are what we make of our loneliness. I think this period of isolation, although often unbearable, can serve as a return to intimacy, and as self-rediscovery. It is useful to be comfortable in the company of our own person.
Same morning routine, but a new day. The same bells ringing every half hour, but a different atmosphere outside. Different clouds in the sky, different things to observe.
The same space to spend my time, but a different mood, a different cup of coffee, and a different documentary on the background. However, a new activity: two hours dedicated to cleaning. Today is the day that I always take care of this matter.
I miss spending time with my sweetheart, who I haven’t seen for more than three months. I do not know when we will see each other again, considering that I am in the region most affected by this pandemic. The plan was to have time together a few days each month spent here in Lodi and Milan. The apogee of longing is manifested by the exorbitant desire to draw his portrait.
I miss many other things, like Milan, the dynamism of the city, and the sunny walks, wearing my favorite outfits. But in the light of missing him, they are less important.
At 8 o’clock the bells ring longer, playing a song. It’s a sunny day, and peacefully, the poplar pollen is carried by the wind. As I follow them, I think about the future, which, although uncertain, can be seen, or at least imagined.
I wish I could extend my residency, which ends soon. I want to be able to return home without problems, and more than that, I want to realize everything I’ve lost so far.
What is certain is that I will further develop my projects with the same consistency and enthusiasm. Art is part of my way of being.
The most important thing to me is that through effort and perseverance, to be able to create works of art, as faithful as possible to the mental perspectives related to the complexity of reality. I am hoping and trusting that I will ennoble the present preoccupations of the world.
At the end of this day, when I write the last thoughts for this journal project, I realize that it made me determined to live the present more concretely and to relate to the past and future more correctly and constructively.