Burnt a.k.a. Gotta catch ’em all! is a colorful distraction from the frustrating political status quo in Romania. Frantically searching for change, digging deep inside empty pockets, the hopeless citizen can now reach for his pack of Burnt matchboxes and alleviate the turmoil generated by years of corruption and chaotic management. The matchbox collection currently features 60 packs, however their number is steadily increasing in direct proportion with the so called achievements of the political class. Two international names have been recently featured, alongside three heavy weights from the religious arena (this holy trinity of sorts is neatly packed in golden matchboxes) . The boxes are screen-printed using a special paint which enables the consumer to light up by drawing the match across the political figure’s face.
The double entendre V-am Ars, meaning Burnt/(You’ve been) burnt/we’ve burnt you, is a word play mirroring the (nonexistent) dialogue between political figures and public. The word play frames the uncertain condition of this interaction. Have they burnt the countries’ budgets yet again, or has the user crossed them out and “burnt” their image, as a form of response? By crossing out the politician’s face, the consumer can engage in both a therapeutical act (of erasing the unwanted politician) and a functional act (that of lighting the path, lighting a cigarette or perhaps even a candle).
Besides the humorous degree to which these boxes engage the user’s imagination, the matchboxes are meant to provide a provocative medium of dealing with one’s political history. Romania is confronted with regular waves of political carcasses washed up on the TV’s shores. Some of these politicians survive to haunt us for generations (such as Ion Iliescu), other (smaller yet no less dangerous criminal political figures) are slowly forgotten. By collecting the boxes, or by coming across the project at alternative press meetings/markets (where these boxes are illegally sold) the public has to remember the politicians’ names, thus unearthing their personas from memory’s murky waters.
Primitiv Print is a screen-printing workshop that dabbles in photography and creative sprees of multiple shapes and sizes. It thrives at the border delineating the absurd from necessity, within the confines of Moxa 20 (Bucharest), and boasts an experience of over five years in the alternative press medium.
Thanks to Mirko Ilic for his matchless foresight.