Photos by: Liliana Caisîn, Ruben Agadjanean

ZPAȚIU (ZPACE) – the independent art scene in Moldova

The House of the Governorate Zemstvo
str. Șciusev 103, Chișinău

The space of the former house of the Chisinau Governorate Zemstvo has been, by turns, a boarding house, a space for industrial and agricultural fairs in Tsarist Bessarabia, an ethnographic and zoological museum, the premises of the Agricultural Department of Iasi University and a study block of the Agrarian State University of Chisinau. The building was retrieved by the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History as late as 2010. Two years later, the Chisinau Branch of the Romanian Cultural Institute produced a very ambitious project for the reconstruction and revamping of the museum. The project proposed that the museum would house a National School for training specialists in the field of monument restoration and a public library that would specialise in humanities. The project was backed by the Parliament – on 15th March 2012, the Chamber of Deputies voted for a bill that issued a concessionary licence for the building.

But in the meantime, the central management of the Romanian Cultural Institute was changed, the director of the Chisinau branch was let go, part of the funding was reduced and the renovation project was called off. Therefore, the building of the Governorate Zemstvo is still administered by MNEIN. It is currently derelict and is falling to bits. Starting in 2013, following negotiations with the management of the museum, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Culture, arts and cultural organizations were able to rent spaces in this building (which continues to be derelict), at the rates established by the real-estate market.

Zpațiu / Zpace

Starting in 2013, a new cultural initiative – Zpatiu/ Zpace, was launched in one of the rooms of the Goverorate Zemstvo building. The room was rented by the Oberlicht Association and the Centre for Contemporary Art KSA:K. In this space, the organizations and initiatives that represent the independent arts and cultural scene in Moldova, come together to exchange ideas, organize exhibitions, devise cultural policies, screen videos and organize various common and individual events, as the case may be.

Zpatiu has several objectives, such as:

in the short-term:

  • to work as a platform for the production and development of art practices and forms of contemporary culture / as a space for the research and formulation of theories and for the critical approach to these forms and practices, dedicated to their social development and relevance.
  • the rented rooms will partially make up for the lack of space for work and for the public display of the works of art of contemporary artists.

in the medium-term:

  • to lay the foundations of a new cultural institution that would cater for the needs of contemporary art artists and the independent cultural organizations of Chisinau and other Moldovan localities; an institution that would be governed jointly by the Ministry of Culture and the independent cultural scene of the Republic of Moldova.
  • to strengthen and develop the organizational capabilities of non-commercial initiatives and organizations

in the long term

  • to renovate the building of the Governorate Zemstvo in partnership with the Moldovan Government and with European funding.

Vladimir Us, Project Coordinator