[ART STUDENTS INTERVIEWS is a series of interviews with students from the Faculty of Visual Arts and Design in Iasi. The goal of these is creating visibility for the local artistic scene, focusing on the ongoing development of students’ practice. We are interested in how this practice is influenced by professors in the faculty and in what way the geographic, political, economic and academic contexts leave an imprint amongst the art practice of students.]


Born in: Iasi, Romania

Is: 21 years old

Studies: Mural Art, BA level

Citeste in limba romana aici.

We begin this round with a 2nd year student of the Faculty of Visual Arts and Design in Iasi. I found out about George Hneda from his professor who recommended him as being the most active of his year. Meanwhile I heard his name around the school and I’ve seen him getting involved in various projects. He caught our attention with the male church choir he brought into the gallery of the faculty to sing throughout his performance LIVE LOVE LIFE, but also with his maturity in trying to reconfigure the ambience of apARTe gallery. Currently, George is studying Mural Art and for the following months he is benefiting from an Erasmus scholarship at Universidad de Pais Vasco from Bilbao, Spain. I heard about you from Dan Acostioaei, your professor. How do you think such a reference recommends you? 
George Hneda: Right from the beginning of the first year Dan was the only professor who really invested his interest in helping us, mostly since, as freshmens, we were pretty panicked and disoriented. When I first started to work outside classes he supported me in every aspect, trusting me and helping me out in materializing my projects. Because of him I can say that I feel comfortable studying a field which is a bit controversial for society. 

Why did you apply to art school? Is this the only field that interests you? 
Since I started school I was getting involved in artistic activities and I was lucky to have parents who supported and encouraged me to pursue art. I attended “Octav Bancila” National College of Arts from Iasi, first in the painting department and then in graphics. Although art is the main field I’m focusing on, it isn’t the only one. I also cook a lot and this fascinates me. 

How did you end up going to faculty in Iasi? 
Living in Iasi for 15 years and then moving to its periphery, my family didn’t have enough money to provide me a decent, even modest living, outside the country or even outside the city, most of the money being directed to construction materials that were used for building the house we live in now. So I stayed in Iasi.
Dancing with Ana, 2012, studio work
What would you like to do after finishing your studies? 
Only thinking that I will finish my studies scares me to death because I’m not even focused on something clear. I don’t know what I want to do next, but I will surely continue in the art field. 

What Romanian artists do you like? 
I think Romania holds a great number of good and incomparable artists. I’m excited when I hear about Mircea Cantor, Dan Perjovschi, but also about Gabriela and Sabin Drinceanu, Ioan Pricop and other Romanians whom I particularly respect. 

What international artists do you like? 
The one who definitely made an imprint over my working style and who continuously makes me fall in love with performance and conceptual art is Marina Abramovic and she occupies the first place in my list of favorite artists. Of course, she is not the only artist whose practice I research and “consume” with pleasure. I also like how Cai Guo Qiang works, he is exceptional. It would also worth mentioning Jackson Pollock, Claire Morgan, Rirkrit Tiravanija, John Chamberlain, Douglas Gordon and Daniel Canogar. 

Do you see art as work? 
Art involves work, but work doesn’t involve art. In a conference at SCAD 2011 Marina Abramovic said, among others, the following: “An artist needs to relate to symbols. An artist creates his own symbols. Symbols are the language of artists. Languages must be translated.” I think this quote answers the question. 

What is the best thing you’ve learnt from a professor in faculty? 
The journal. We got a task right from the first day of school - that of making ourselves a sketchbook or a journal in which to keep track of all the ideas that run through our heads. It was hard until I started it, but now, any little idea I’d have for a project, I know I can find it in the journal, with the date somewhere in a corner. It helps me a lot and I encourage anyone to make themselves such a notebook.
Land art, Natural Reservation Calimani, Romania 2012
Would you like to study somewhere else? Where and why? 
I would have prefered to study in a different place than Romania, someplace where I would get more educated than here, a place where teachers would show interest in shaping me, a place where I would be free to act the way I want, in which to be able to name things as they are and not to feel thrown in the corner. But I’m waiting to see how life in Bilbao is, to meet other people and, why not, to look for some MA possibilities for the future. 

So given these conditions, are you considering leaving Romania? 
I would definitely leave, with no remorse, and maybe, MAYBE, sometime I would come back and try to change something about people’s mentality as well as the system itself, if I could make use of such power. 

What do you think about apARTe Gallery at the faculty of arts in Iasi? 
apARTe Gallery is perfect for the students here, firstly because it allows you to show your work and have it evaluated and critiqued outside the studio. But I think some investments should be made there. Some sponsoring maybe would be necessary for a new illumination system, and maybe for enlarging the entrance in the gallery. Otherwise, the gallery is simple and efficient from my perspective.
Image from the exhibition CHEIA SOL, apARTe Gallery, Iasi, November 29 - December 2nd 2012
What do you think about art students who end up working in advertising or similar fields? Do you think this is a compromise? 
Advertising can be seen as a branch of art. If I felt myself to have inclination towards such a field in which to apply the knowledge I’ve developed in school, I would surely work there and I would give my best to do the job properly. 

I heard a lot of art students mentioning the irrelevance of homeworks they receive for evaluation. Is there any connection between studio tasks given by teachers and your own artistic projects? 
There is, of course, a connection between the studio tasks and my personal projects, because at the moment I focus on school and I try to leave this space for it to teach me. I think personal projects are a continuation of what I do in the studio for the given homework. 

How much time do you spend at school? 
If in my first year I was spending about 10 - 12 hours in the studio, this year the time decreased almost tohalf. It’s not really easy, as an emerging artist, to share the space with other colleagues with different tastes and working methods. That’s how small “conflicts” and endless gossiping begin. But there are times when we get along very well among ourselves, we talk like pals and we are close to each other when needed.
Image from the exhibition LIVE LOVE LIFE, apARTe Gallery, Iasi, November 27 2012
What do you read?
Now I'm reading Postproduction by Nicolas Bourriaud and I intend to finish the book, although I find it a bit difficult and it requires quite a lot of focus. Apart from that, I read and reread with pleasure Romanian authors like Blaga, Cioran, Stanescu, Barbu; I tried Freud, but I guess it was too early for me and I returned it to the library as it was making me feel stupid.

What do your works talk about and what medium do you prefer? So far I’ve seen you worked with painting, video, but also performance and land art. In which of these do you find more of yourself?
Last year I made myself a present on my birthday - a small solo exhibition in the building of the Gymnasium school I attended. “Supernovae” tried to show the relationship I had with the concept of the infinite unknown. I produced a series of supernovae from paint which I initially burned. Sugar was a key element for the works, giving shining and materiality to these stellar objects. And so I integrated a culinary element in the art I was making at school.

As for the medium, land art offers me the possibility of working in nature, with nature, which is an extraordinary thing because this represents my home, my refugee place, but also a place where you can execute punishment, a heaven and hell at the same time. Nature offers me everything I can wish for, this is why an intervention upon it can be seen as a tribute for it. In addition to this, performance helps me develop myself as an artist. This is what performance means to me - to be able to execute a work of art with your body and mind focused solely on the work itself, as a real artist, isolating it from whatever happens around.
Image from the exhibition SUPERNOVAE, “Nicolae Iorga” School, Iasi, 30 martie 2012
What subject would you have wanted to study in Iasi? 
I would have loved to study more conceptual art. 

What would you like to change at the faculty of arts from Iasi? 
I’d move the library in the sports hall and I would invest in more documentation material. Also, I would propose the library to provide access to everyone interested in art and not only the students of “George Enescu” University. 

In one line, how would you describe the faculty of arts from Iasi for foreign students? 
Some cool teachers, beautiful girls, relaxed schedule and interesting subjects of study. 

Returning to Adam is a performance made by George Hneda. The video was displayed as part of his exhibition LIVE LOVE LIFE, apARTe Gallery, Iasi, November 2012:

“This performance was created to push my limits to extremes. Through this I try to destroy the barrier between our society and the time of Adam and Eve. Our principles poorly developed over the time made us to transcend to an unmeasurable moral level, striving for our intimacy and what is worst to fight against ourselves. "Returning to Adam" made ​​me realize the competition that I have every day, every hour, every moment thinking that my evolution as a human being has no limits.” 
(George Hneda)

Images provided by George Hneda.


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