Valeria Barbas is a young Moldovan composer. A trained musician, she has been creating Fluxus-style noise music and sound concerts for the past few years. When I spoke to her about her influences, she mentioned names such as John Cage, and the Fluxus artists. But she was quick to stress that this is not merely a case of copying this work; rather, she feels it is appropriate to use these avant-garde examples in the Moldovan context, because Moldova didn’t have an avant-garde per se. In this way, she introduces an avant-garde tradition to Moldova herself.
One piece by the artist that really interested me was a sound concert that Valeria organized using cars in the parking lot behind the Department of Culture in downtown Chisinau. She wrote a real score for the piece, one that she created to be understandable to and readable for the average driver, who is not necessarily a musician. For her, the piece is about exploring the concept of public space in the city, in a space where everyday humans have to fight for space with cars.
In addition to her musical compositions, she has also worked with tableaux vivants, re-staging a painting my Moldovan painter Valentina Ciobanu-Rusu from 1974, entitled Friendship. The painting depicts a group of international students smiling and interacting with each other in a way that seems staged and artificial. Valeria created an animated tableau, using the artists from a workshop she was attending, and asking each of them to connect with one personality from the image.
It is interesting to see the manner in which the artist plays with traditional forms to create new ones, and use older models to introduce avant-garde and experimental techniques into contemporary Moldovan art.