Failproof Witch (2019)

Virginia Lupu

In her photographic practice Virginia Lupu shows her subjects as they exist and co-exist in society without altering their representation to fit certain societal norms, expectations or stereotypes. The project of Virginia Lupu is conceived as to insert itself within the fabric of the city. The artist conducts an extensive research on the occult and magical practices that have yet to find a critical representation in the visual culture of Romania. Working with and immersing herself into various Roma communities in Romania, the artist brings forward the female figures of a practice that is gender-exclusive and projects them on transgenerational dialogues.

The advent of modernity in European culture and its colonial expansions was premised on the triumph of rationality. The practice of witchcraft and witches became prone to a systematic process of oppression and persecution. This was the case also in Aalst. Existing historical accounts speak of the execution of several women deemed as witches. The witch hunt was grounded on fear. The project is presented at the Belfry. On the front of the tower two semi exuberant statues represent the Counts of Flanders and the Counts of Aalst. The façade contains the inscription ‘Nec spe, nec metu’ (‘neither by hope, nor by fear’), a reminder of the inauguration of Philips II as Count of Aalst (1555) who made this his motto.

Virginia Lupu travelled across Romania to partake in Roma witches’ most relevant time specific rituals, such as solstice or equinox days. An important event that became part of the work is a major reunion of witches who cast an anticorruption spell on the government and performed a form of resistance to the current politics. Capturing this ritual through photographs and video work, the artist harks back to the political roots of witchcraft and reassert its power in the centre of town.

Credits: Failproof Witch (2019), light boxes, 7 x (70 x 40 x 15 cm). Courtesy Virginia Lupu. In collaboration with Mihaela Minca. Holy Sun I’m Not Raising Up the Wind From the Earth, But I’m Raising Your Circle Onto My Head And Your Rays Into My Eyelashes (2019), video, 6:00’’, sound. Courtesy Virginia Lupu. Curated by Anca Rujoiu. In collaboration with SPEEDWELL, WELL ONE, Europalia Arts Festival Romania and the Romanian Cultural Institute.