Friday, June 14, 2013

Romania 2013 - Part I

Most Americans will associate Romania with two things: Dracula or Nadia Comaneci. I associate Romania with the Black Sea, Ovid's exile, and Trajan's Column.  Romania was once the Roman province of Dacia which Trajan conquered, and for this reason the 13th Colloquium of Roman Provincial Art was held in Bucharest, Alba Julia, and Constanța.

A colloquium in Romania paid for by the LSU Office of Research and Development and the School of Art may sound romantic, but it was so stressful!  From 8:00 am to 8:00 pm the 100 or so participants attended lectures - up to 17 lectures a day (!) - on all aspects of Roman provincial art given in whatever language the lecturer to present his or her research (German, English, French, Italian).  This left little time for eating and sleeping.

My poster on the Missouri Dove Girl attracted attention and useful feedback.  I'll write it up for the proceedings.

After two days of intensive conferencing, 60 or so participants were packed into two buses and off we went to Transylvania - not to visit Dracula's castle ("Every castle is Dracula's castle" according to the locals!) - but to visit the museum at Alba Julia (ancient Apulum).  We were greeted by legionary soldiers ("the last of their unit!") and there was a special exhibit for us about the Romans, Dacians, and Celts.

We were allowed to see (but not photograph) a hoard of gold bracelets which were under high security and were packed away as soon as we had all seen them.  Some fascinating pieces in these small museums - I'm always impressed by their collections of Roman art that you never see in textbooks.  These outposts really were little copies of Rome. Just look at this gorgeous statue of Hecate, goddess of the crossroads from Sibiu:

One can't say the same for the modern interpretation of Roman art.  There is a bronze statue of Trajan in front of the art museum in Bucharest which has been the focus of some controversy. It's a nice likeness of Trajan from the neck up.  But he's holding a very stiff Lupa Romana in his arms (the Lupa Romana is everywhere in Romania - and the founder of the webpage Ubi Erat Lupa was with us on the tour) - only this version leaves out the twins Romulus and Remus. Instead, a serpent-like appendage protrudes from the back of Lupa's head.  Reminiscent of the Chimera of Arezzo, it's supposed to represent the dragon of Dacia. The sculpture is very controversial and rightly so. 

Just search "bronze Trajan Bucharest" for some interesting reviews of the installation!
End of Part I.

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