The Utopian Society of Euxine is a non-governmental organization founded in 2021 with the mission of preserving, interpreting, promoting and creating new art inspired by the common heritage of the Extended Black Sea Region. This includes the member states of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC): Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. Just as the region itself is complex, interdependent and poly-cultural, so too is our organization. In this sense, we are creating a network of collaborations and partnerships to develop an international community of artists and skilled cultural operators to combine the creation of new art, and the preservation of the region’s artistic heritage.
The vision of Euxine will reactivate the international heritage of the region, increasing the circulation of ideas, people, material and cultural works. This will reinforce the unique symbiotic relationships amongst the people of the Black Sea that connect the European and Asian continents. Bolder still, the Euxine articulates an imaginary, dynamic and paradoxical territory. Not merely the Black Sea that was, and is, but a utopian Black Sea that can be.
The idea of a transnational imaginary homeland on which the vision of the Utopian Society of Euxine rests has its origins in the program of the cultural newspaper “Silver Coast” of the Free University of Balchik, conceived by Octavian Moșescu and first published on April 2, 1928 in Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish. Thus, the program of artistic and curatorial residencies, exhibition projects and curatorial interventions, networking events and workshops will aim to capture this inspired publication and contemplate how the world could have been, if the movement conceived of by the Silver Coast has flourished.
The Euxine values are:
- Free Movement. The Black Sea has been a path for human movement since the earliest cultures flourished on its banks. In this way, the Black Sea is a mirror to today’s most dramatic cultural shift: the remarkable free movement of ideas and knowledge across the globe through technology. A mobility of the mind, open to the masses. And a mobility of the body open to travelers, nomads, refugees, the stateless, and more people than ever before. Our society embraces these two mobilities and cherishes them.
- Hospitality. The Greeks called the sea Euxenios, from the word for “hospitable.” This was used with irony, since the Black Sea was less hospitable than the Aegean. Despite the Greek’s euphemism, one of the most powerful shared cultural characteristics across our region is a deeply shared culture of hospitality, and a duty to the visitor. Our society cherishes these values, and promotes the tools of intercultural mediation, an instrument of interest to those who travel globally in the interest of business, as well as for those who are interested in understanding how national perceptions are shaped.
- Innovation. The harshness of the Black Sea, like all challenges, inspired humans to improve. Euxine believes that cultural evolution is possible as long as there is a culture of innovation, able to address political fragmentation and hostile relations between the countries around the Black Sea coast. In this sense, rethinking the curatorial practice as an institutional narrative, the Euxine curatorial office aims to develop tools, interventions and working models that facilitate mutual understanding between neighboring cultures in the Extended Region of the Black Sea.
These three principles are at the core of our movement, and are amongst the most widely shared human values globally and regionally. They are also some of the values most in jeopardy in today’s world.
Carmen Casiuc (born 1994, Iași) is an independent curator and self-taught cultural critic working with artists and ideas that look into unconscious processes governing the production of meaning to challenge the status quo in contemporary art and culture.
She studied History and Theory of Art at the National University of Arts in Bucharest and completed a MA program in Visual Research at Université de Lyon (PRES), France. Between 2016-2018 she wrote a series of art reviews for Revista Arta on Romanian artists who approach European heritage from a subjective perspective. In 2017, she moved to London where she took part together with Onkar Kular & Common Initiative in the organization of a special commission program by Victoria and Albert Museum, entitled Collecting Europe, which questioned the public’s relationship to notions of truth and history. On her return to Romania, she took the role of the curator-in-chief of the historical gallery atelier 35 under the patronage of the Visual Artists Union, where she proposed between 2018-2019 a series of innovations in exhibition making, by staging a dialogue between contemporary art and elements of design and social media. Her main endeavor as an independent curator took the turn towards the art market in 2019, and since then she has collaborated with galleries such as Jecza Gallery (Timișoara), Nicodim Gallery (Bucharest) and CFHILL (Stockholm). In 2020 she contributed a text on the power of image-making in world-conception in reference to the work of the photographer Lucian Bran in Romanian Contemporary Art 2010-2020: Rethinking the Image of the World: Projects and Sketches edited by Adrian Bojenoiu and Cristian Nae and published by Hatje Cantz, Berlin. At present she focuses on researching the cultural and human history of the Black Sea and develops future projects for The Utopian Society of Euxine, over which she presides.
Carmen Casiuc (born Cosciug) is the second generation of a family of political refugees from the historical region of Bessarabia, today part of the territory of the Republic of Moldova, who were forced to abandon their home and community as part of the occupation by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Moldova region and Northern Bukovina. She inherited the name that her grandparents forged when he entered the territory of the Romanian People’s Republic, in order to avoid their forced deportation to labor camps in Siberia. Her family’s original name was Cociug.
Cristina Bută (born 1992, Timișoara) is a curator and writer working in contemporary art. She holds a BA Honours Literary Studies & Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam and a MA Curating Art & Cultures, University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit. Between 2018-2019, she was a curator in training at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, where she worked on the solo shows Maria Lassnig. Ways of Being and Walid Raad – Let’s Be Honest The Weather Helped (AICA Prize nomination 2020). In 2019, she curated, together with Maria Rus Bojan, the retrospective exhibition in Timișoara of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Presence, Essence, Identity. She was the editor, together with Charles Esche, of a selection of his writings about decolonization and the editor of several exhibition catalogs. She worked as a moderator for different film festivals in the Netherlands and published critical essays in magazines such as Third Text.
Her practice focuses on overcoming Western dominating art models. During the last years, she moved back to Bucharest where she is working on researching art in post-1989 Eastern Europe, specifically Romanian contemporary artists’ practices. Currently, she is the artistic director of Sector 1 Gallery, Bucharest and the vice-president of The Utopian Society of Euxine.
Cristina Bută was born and raised in a family in Timișoara, the capital of the Banat region – a city that has stood out since antiquity as having an ethnically diverse population, home to the largest German population of on Romanian territory until the end of the twentieth century, as well as for a significant number of Serbs and Hungarians. Today, this multicultural history is reflected in the architectural landscape of the city and its confessional history.