Ciprian Muresan

Leap into the Void, after Three Seconds

2004

Not on display

Artist
Ciprian Muresan born 1977
Medium
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Dimensions
Image: 1400 x 1000 mm
frame: 1523 x 1094 x 45 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented anonymously 2015
Reference
P20523

Summary

Leap into the Void, after Three Seconds 2004 is a large black and white gelatin silver photograph. It exists in an edition of seven plus one artist’s proof, and this copy is number seven in the edition. It is a re-staging of French artist’s Yves Klein’s photomontage Le Saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void) 1960. Klein hired photographers Harry Shunk and Janos Kender to document his action in the Parisian suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses in October 1960. Shunk and Kender took one picture of the artist taking his leap into a tarpaulin held taut by his friends and another of the empty street, which Klein then montaged together. In the resulting photomontage Klein is suspended in mid-air above the pavement, arms outstretched, in a gesture of avant-garde optimism. Muresan took this iconic image and transported the scene to a similar looking street near to the historic centre of Cluj-Napoca, a city in the northwest of his native Romania, a site not far from that of the Romanian revolution, during which President Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime was overthrown in 1989. Muresan’s work not only changes the location of the work but, as the title indicates, it also takes place three seconds after the heroic jump. The cyclist in the background is here slightly further along than in Klein’s original and the artist is now seen lying prostrate in the street, perhaps dead but certainly deflated. By revising and resituating an iconic image from the canon of western European art, Muresan’s photograph reflects on the changing status and precarious situation of the artist in contemporary post-communist Romania. In this way Leap into the Void, after Three Seconds resonates with the artist’s experience of failure and the post-communist condition.

Speaking about Leap into the Void, after Three Seconds, the artist has commented:

In my photograph, I created a parallel world that was specific to Romania, which represents how the situation looked for an artist in Cluj in 2004: nobody cared for the arts. Forty years after Klein made his seminal image of the emancipation of the artistic impulse in Paris, our stone streets could be anywhere in Europe, even in Paris … but the difference between my world and the world Klein represents is embodied in those three seconds between the leap and the fall … In Romania, there is no institution or place for art. There is no other end for a leap into the void but this end.
(Emily Nathan, ‘Strange Days: An Interview with Ciprian Muresan’, Artnet, 20 July 2011, http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/nathan/ciprian-muresan-7-20-11.asp, accessed 30 January 2015.)

Muresan’s diverse practice includes video (see, for example, Choose 2005, Tate T14845), sculpture, animation, installation and drawing (see, for example, All Images from the Elaine Sturtevant Book 2014, Tate T14498). His work shares with other contemporary artists from Eastern and Southeast Europe an affinity for historical issues and a critical approach to ideologies. Muresan’s practice is equally concerned with the reinterpretation of the traditions of conceptual art, with appropriation and the use of irony. Religion, childhood, post-communism, art, film and literary history are the subjects and references that Muresan translates into various media and formal languages, recombining and presenting them anew. Muresan’s practice reflects on the experience of history, the construction of individuality and the confrontation between the memory of the recently overturned communist utopia and the new reality of global capitalism.

Leap into the Void, after Three Seconds was shown in the Project Space at Tate Modern, London, in 2012 as part of the exhibition Stage and Twist and in solo exhibitions including Recycled Playground at FRAC, Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, in 2011, at the Centre d’art Contemporaine in Geneva in 2012, at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver in 2013 and in Ciprian Muresan at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, in 2010.

Further reading
Andrei State, ‘The Democratic Device’, in Alina Serban (ed.), The Seductiveness of the Interval: The Romanian Pavilion at the Fifty-third International Art Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Venice Biennale, Venice 2009, pp.61–8, reproduced pp.62, 66.
Marius Babias (ed.), Ciprian Muresan, exhibition catalogue, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin 2010, reproduced pp.171–3, 175.
European Travellers: Art from Cluj Today, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle Budapest, Budapest 2012, reproduced p.100.

Juliet Bingham
January 2015

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