I’ve always thought about Romania as a liberal society, despite all the signs that it isn’t, in fact, one. The recent events concerning the banning of same-sex marriage in the country cleared all the doubts. The real tricky thing about all this is that we don’t actually see the reality unless we’re part of LGBT community. You have to be gay to really know how shitty people are around you. When they meet you, their masks suddenly disappear.
Corina Chirilă is a lesbian artist from Romania. I subscribed to her feed awhile back, and we didn’t interact since. Until she posted this honest manifesto called Being a Lesbian In Romania on one of her blogs.
Here’s what she says: “Sometimes I feel so lonely and sad and all I need is love, the love I am not allowed to have here in Romania, here in this God damn country where the retrograde, orthodox Church is governing our lives next to the corrupt politicians who should all be in prison, not in the Parliament. And now they want to make a homophobic Constitution and two women cannot be together because here women are not really independent. Here a woman’s success depends on the men she has relationships with, not on her work […]
There are a lot of companies where the boss fires women who don’t want to sleep with him. I know from my own experience. I’ve never liked boys and I’ve never had a boyfriend and I work hard just to keep myself on the lowest survival line and pay my bills. For other women like me it’s even harder. I’ve had a girlfriend who was in a desperate situation. She has lost her job and her family was not accepting her and she had nothing. That’s what happens to most of us – we lose our jobs or we can never find a job [after] and our homophobic relatives don’t accept as we are, and that’s why we can never have relationships”.
She talks about it as she wants to get rid of everything she’s been through. She doesn’t care about typos and criticism. They told her in the past she lacks basic talent, she has no imagination or that she’s ugly, people considering it as a reason for being a lesbian. Fucking ignorants!
“Here you can read some really mean comments, since we’re talking bad criticism”. And she sends me a link. I browse through the comments posted in a period of 3 years and I’m stunned. Stunned by the hatred people have towards something and someone they’ve never met, towards someone who’s never done anything to them. I translated just some of the comments, to prove my point:
“The way you’re drawing is simply pathetic. Go and kill yourself, ritualistic, while sucking cock until two of your cervical vertebrae will snap”, says idiot #1.
“You’re a gross, hideous, inferior bitch. A lunatic. Shame on you for your blasphemous comments about our Savior Christ!”, says idiot #2
“[You’re] a stupid with no tits and slim lips. It’s obvious why you’re drawing only women; every man would treat you with their asses. I’m thinking about gathering 10 friends, to drink like a hundred beers and share your asshole between us after!” – idiot #3.
And that’s enough hatred for one day. You read the rest if you got the stomach.
“They told me my art is kitsch and porn, and that I’m mocking God and the talent he’s given me”.
When I asked her to chat a little bit about it she told me, defensively: “I’ll keep writing, ‘cause I got a lot to say!”
I ask her about her body of works. She has many of them (over 2000 drawings only), mostly experimentalist artworks: drawings and sketches, paintings done in conventional (watercolor, acrylic) and unconventional (coffee and sugar, lipstick) techniques. Mythology and poetry, two of her favorite sources of inspiration combine with the mystery of space, spiritual enlightenment and metaphorical creation. A waterfall of colors and emotions crashing into each other.
Saw some videos of hers, made a couple of years ago. She’s filming herself in her room, surrounded by her paintings, her drawings and self-manufactured personal artifacts. She strikes me as a lonely person. But she just said that, and know I see it.
Corina is attracted to Eminescian cosmogony and psychedelic versions of Creation. Diversity is the key-word.
“The diversity of subjects. The diversity of techniques.” she says. “Original themes left unexplored by other local artists, like the Universe and Biology. I know painters who focused their whole lives on one subject: flowers vases. People are sick and tired of flowers vases and cheap landscapes. There are so many subjects in this world which although interesting, they remain unapproached – a neuronal structure, a Supernova, a developing embryo”.
“The foreigners usually prefer these”, she continues. “When I had some [paintings] exhibited down town a lot of foreigners bought embryos, bio-structures and cosmic landscapes”.
“What about locals?”, I asked. “Why do you think they don’t get in line when it comes to buy your artworks?”. She replied: “There are a lot of Romanians who appreciate my art, but mostly students or people with financial problems”.
“There are too many of them, conservative and fanatic enough to not buy from me. People who criticize everything I do, when all they want to see are religious icons.”
I cannot deny it while having the conversation. There’s a lot of latent frustration under all that “fuck you, I don’t care” attitude. She started to paint when she was 14. Corina is now 30 years old. She’s obviously been through a lot. I don’t want be anywhere around her when she won’t be able to keep it in anymore. Fortunately, she’s releasing at least some of that pressure through art.
The painter writes me a list. “They told me a lot of stuff. That I’m a bad influence to their children, that they must not see two women in one painting scene, that I must paint men as well. They told me my art is kitsch and porn, and that I’m mocking God and the talent he’s given me”.
I asked her how comes that she keeps painting, despite all the bad things and she kept on playing the “whatever” role. “There’ll always be pros and cons. The dogs bark, but caravan moves on!”
“There are galleries who simply declined me any forms of collaboration”
“[Being lesbian and speaking of it] through art is like an escape”, Corina says.
“What about being a lesbian and an artist at the same time, in Romania?”
“It’s even worse. For instance, a while ago, a museum called Foisorul de Foc declined me the opportunity of displaying this work. They said something about army, public institution, kids visiting. They don’t usually explain themselves. There are galleries who simply declined me any forms of collaboration”.
Corina’s plans for future look modest, as I expected. She doesn’t want much; she wants what any other painter would want: to be appreciated, to open their own exhibition sanctuary – their own gallery.
“I wish I had my own workshop and a gallery, somewhere downtown (Bucharest)”. I asked her about next exhibition, if any. She continued to keep that attitude of uncertainty. Who knows what gallery would say ‘no’ next time! “There’s nothing certain, but I’d like to display some works in Constanța (near the seaside). More public there since it’s summer. I know some people there who could help me. Also, in august I’ll have a painting hanging at Cercul Militar, during Tuculescu literary circle.