In august 2010 the first edition of VSLO (Vama Under Oscar Lights) was taking place. From a simple photography festival, it became an international visual arts festival, which for one week each year, brings in Vama Veche, creators from around the world.
I’ve been going every year since edition three. At first, I was just a curious observer enjoying the festival atmosphere and Vama Veche’s party nights. The eye through which I saw back then told me that VSLO is a festival from which you can leave happy and hungover because you didn’t come there in a desperate attempt to fill your wasted time with loud music and white nights, you came there and you also learnt something about you, about art and about people.
I watched the fifth and sixth editions through the eyes of an exhibitor, with my two projects “BLUNT” and “Chimeras”. This year, at the seventh edition, I was a lecturer for my seminar “Alter Ego” about human identity. It wasn’t and it isn’t easy to be either of those because: you have the responsibility of creating something which will remain in people’s hearts and minds, you are not the only exhibitor or lecturer, you want to have a good time and are looking for (like every human being) a dialog between the message you sent and the ones who received it, if they did. That doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful, beautiful it’s a word too small to describe all that’s happening there.
If you are passionate about photography you can participate to a variety of workshops including: underwater photography, photojournalism, staged photography, nude, portrait, food and drinks photography. This year’s lecturers for those were: Andrei Ciobică, Olav Urdahl, Nicolae Coșniceru, Cristian Crisbășan, Vali Bărbulescu and Angel Penchev. You can also see seminars and exhibitions: “Mono Cromatic” – Cornel Lazia (about black & white photography), “Tanzania” – Vlad Cioplea (an exhibition of a fascinating journey).
Painting and sculpture were explored with the help of Daniel Prapone who held courses of: charcoal, pencil and chalk drawing, oil and watercolor painting, cubism, composition and clay sculpture, among many others. Another domain addressed is film and this year the theme was documentary film. Lecturers for film workshops were: Andrei Băltărețu-Iancu, Veaceslav Cebotari and Bogdan Petrașcu. The courses were focused on: film production, film directing, film equipment and sound.
Theatre courses helped students create a complete play (from script writing to the actual spectacle), with human sized puppets. The musical workshops had to build from scrap a show which took place at the end of the festival.
VSLO doesn’t mean only creation, it is also a place where open-minded people can get to know each other and have fun at the concerts and projected films, every night in Vama Veche’s various locations. You also won’t see 90% SGI movies with hollow scrips and american bullshit or bad commercial music, because what you see on TV or hear on the radio, rarely has something to do with culture.
Also, this festival is not commercial and fake, it does not seek consumers, it seeks people who can keep creative thinking alive in Romania, where the artistic industry is a disaster. You can certainly feel an influence from that, but not because of the organizers or the creators. Problems come from outside VSLO, from greedy interests and uneducated people.
A lot of people know that making a festival requires months of excruciating work, especially if the festival is free (because it’s not Electric Castle, even if there are concerts. You don’t pay to drown in mud. You only have to come there with inspiration and thirst for something new), but they don’t understand what this work means, what it means to be able to give people every year, all the required instruments for creation.
You have no idea what you are losing, you have no idea how many things would change if you would have the courage and heart desire to look more often though art albums, than TV, if you would share just as intensely online, as you do when you want to win a ticket for Untold. You don’t believe that if you would invest in creation, the wheel which promotes non-values would turn. You have no idea, that you could replace all those dogmatic churches with cultural centers. You have no idea because you are frozen in the fear of taking responsibility. You fear that if you were free you would lose yourselves because you don’t know how to build anything with and through it, you don’t even know how to fight for it.
There are a few strong and courageous people who know these things, who when somebody cuts their wings, they rebuild them even stronger. They are called Andreea and Catalin Rudolf, together with the VSLO team. They know that they need people, not robots. They know, that people remain alive only if creation (one of the most important qualities of our species) is not ripped from them. I admire and respect them very much.
Because of those people, I’ve learnt that it is always worth to fight and go further no matter how hard it seems. You can make your thoughts a reality.
I hope VSLO will keep growing with people who understand these things and I regret that I simply cannot grasp all that’s happening there though an article; but you can find any information on their website and any creative experience by being present.