Back at the beginning of the Romanian communist era, the government decides even the dimension and the way to put prefabs together. The only job left to the architects is to think how to cram the people inside. They don’t manage themselves to acquire the legal conditions to have a place to live in. They are homeless architects. Looking for a place to sleep becomes an endless wandering in a stifling space, having no borders but any expanse either. Everything is lost: the projects, the constructions, and the self. ELIZA MUREŞAN (b.1987, Bucharest) is an young emerging filmmaker and video artist, passionate about photography and experimental art. She studied at the Art Academy in Dusseldorf (2005 – 2008), then she went to Paris to continue her education in Beaux Arts.
Ioana Mischie: Daringly experimenting both in the way to re-experience the historical past and in cinematic form, THE SALT BOULDER takes us back at the beginning of the Romanian communist era. What motivated you to focus on this period and moreover, on architecture?
Eliza Muresan: At the beginning of the Romanian communist era, there was an acute shortage of dwellings. One could live with all the social and professional recognition, but without personal items and home. So the architectural projects developing at the same time became to me the concrete place of “no place to live in”. But living the unachieved is living the present. I wanted to see communist life before this era had the time to construct all the icons we evoke now.
Ioana Mischie:The story follows three architects who design more than buildings, streets or trams, they design life itself (it seems as well a spiritual architecture), while they themselves become victims of this project. How did you work with the actors in order to achieve this “homelessness” of the spirit? How long was the shooting and where did it take place?
Eliza Muresan: The film was shot at the Fresnoy, in the studio, during five days. So the homelessness was achieved by displacements. Bringing the Romanian actors to face a Romanian past they didn’t experience, in a studio in the north of France. And that through images and situations not engaging similarities with the stories they heard and things they saw about this era. Also part of the homelessness feeling was the way I worked with the actors, that wasn’t similar to what they did before and didn’t search for the construction of identities or relationships between them.
Ioana Mischie: In that context, the only job left to the architects is to think how to cram the people inside. They don’t manage themselves to acquire the legal conditions to have a place to live in. They become homeless architects. Everything seems rather lost: the projects, the constructions, and the self. Should we perceive it as well as a similarity with the contemporary Romanian society or as a fairytale from the past?
Eliza Muresan: I think it’s a general state of being and life conditions can easily be the same in Bucharest, Paris or elsewhere. But it is not a question of square meters or phonic isolation. What was specific was the program; his scale and even more the complete anticipation of worst consequences and even more the fact that this anticipation didn’t changed the program at all. It is because of this disability to act although the anticipation reveals conscience, that the film carries this title, due to the legend of the salt boulder.
Ioana Mischie: Your investigation also reflects the reality of those times in the shape of 3D projections of an architecture project, in which the characters live, dream and hope daily, without realizing that they are captive in a political world without exit. How did this concept of the 3D’s come to life?
Eliza Muresan: The idea was to confront real people with the project of a city, as literally as possible. To make them live concretely in those places, in the idea of the future place itself. I chose the 3D in order not to use archives or real places still able to figure that time architecture and design. Because I didn’t wanted to reveal any nostalgic attachment. And on the other side, I wanted to show a past moment as a present moment, not as a commemoration, not as an escape through costumes. But facing the void and the undefined quality of something being done, now. All characteristics come after. I didn’t want a perfect 3d corresponding to best standards. So a made an experiment. I charged a friend of mine, Cristian Vararu, who was very interested in the subject, to do the 3D although he didn’t had any idea and had no proper computer to work on. All the people who worked on this film were exceeded by the given tasks. And this fact gathered the forced insomnia of the characters.
Ioana Mischie:You are a Romanian born filmmaker and contemporary young artist studying abroad. Could you share with us how striking was for you this cultural exchange and where do you feel you belong artistically wise?
Eliza Muresan: When I first moved to Germany, my body opposed radically to all changes. Later on, while taking pictures of people in the Bucharest Nord railway station I started talking to women who have been working abroad (picking fruits and vegetables), they talked to me about the same physical symptoms of inadaptability. Still they were strongly belonging to Romania. Artistically wise I don’t feel like belonging somewhere.
Ioana Mischie: What inspires you as a young filmmaker and what do you find most provoking when transforming an idea into a valuable piece of cinema?
Eliza Muresan: I always work like cinema was there first, before life and ideas. For me cinema is the only way to one’s own intimacy and to a general intimacy of each event or situation.
More about THE SALT BOULDER.