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3–5 November 2021


Day 1
Venue: Romanian Academy, 125 Calea Victoriei 
Council room

Day 2
Venue: Jockey Club
9 Episcopiei Str., Bucharest

Day 3
Cultural activities

The 39th edition of Oracle took place in Bucharest from 3rd to 5th November 2021. Oracle is an informal meeting of photography experts, curators of photography exhibitions, and historians of this art. The event was organised by Adrian-Silvan Ionescu, director of G. Oprescu Institute of Art History in Bucharest, together with Marian Țuțui and Eduard Andrei, researchers at the same institute.
This year the number of participants was reduced because of the pandemic conditions. However, specialists from the USA, Australia, the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and Greece came to the conference: Hans Christian Adam, renowned historian of photography from Germany; Robin O’Dell, curator of the photographic collections at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg (Florida); Ami Bouhassane, codirector of the Penrose Collection and Farleys House & Gallery in the UK; Steve Yates, expert in avant-garde photography, founder and curator of the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe; William Messer, American historian of Cincinnati photography and expert in European photographic art; Petra Trnková Schlosser, historian of photography and researcher at the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague; Aliki Tsirgialou, curator of the photographic collection at Benaki Museum in Athens; Graham Howe, Australian curator, historian of photography and collector, founder and CEO of Curatorial Assistance, Inc., a museum services organization specializing in traveling exhibitions; Suzie Katz, photography expert and founding president of PhotoWings in San Francisco.
Among the Romanian specialists who took part in the conference were, beside the organisers, Aurel Stroe, photographer and art expert, Eugen Negrea, president of the Romanian Association of Photographic Artists, Adriana Dumitran, historian of photography and curator of the Special Collections at the National Library of Romania, Cătălin Nicolae, archaeologist at the Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology and a PhD student at the Nicolae Iorga Institute of History.

The 39th edition of the annual Oracle Conference took finally place after being postponed last year due to the COVID 19 pandemic! [...]
On the first day, the debate focused on the objectives and future of Oracle in terms of education, digitization and research. In addition, the participants talked about the activity of the institutions they represent, but also about their personal projects. On the second day, other issues of interest were discussed, such as: the relationship  between the educational aim of an exhibition, the amount of information that can be written on the panel of the photographic exhibits and the average time spent by visitors in front of them; the overlapping of several functions and types of experience that we find especially today, when the photography curator can be also a critic, a professor and a researcher; in the same vein, the decreasing number of critics has been noted, which often leads the curator to write himself the texts for the exhibition catalogues. The cultural programme of the last day included a visit to the Photo Cabinet – Special Collections of the National Library (host: Adriana Dumitran), a visit to the MultiMedia exhibition at Căminul Artei (host: curator Ruxandra Trestioreanu, professor at UNARTE), and in the evening – a concert at the Romanian Athenaeum. [...]
As organisers, we are proud to have been able to prepare and host the conference despite all difficulties and restrictions. Moreover, it seems that it was an edition that enjoyed a great success, unexpected in the given circumstances. To prove it, we will render only one comment, that of Graham Howe: “This was one of the best Oracle meetings for me, due to its smaller size. We were able to have deeper conversations with each of our group members and get to know each other much better than if we were in a group of 100 members.”

Marian Țuțui 


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