Single Man Looking

Adrian Schiop

20/01/2015 - 10/04/2015

Dr. Felix 72A, Bucharest, Romania

After my second novel was published I abandoned the social scene in the center of the city and I dedicated myself to the study of manele and to the Ferentari neighbourhood ghetto culture, where I had relocated the year before. From there, it didn’t seem that Ferentari, with its destitute poor and junkies, is the ghetto, but the Center, a closed community of artists and creative types, like a reservation of individuals free from any obligations and responsibilities, such as children and mortgage payments.

Long story short, I was trying to go back to my roots as an upstart peasant, to be a cocalar wannabe. But it didn’t work out. I was still an alien in the world of Ferentari. In my last novel I attempted to analyse this failure – why people saw me as as a weirdo and a freak to the end. I don’t know if I solved that puzzle by writing, but I realised something else – that in Ferentari I was a representative of the reservation of creative types from the Center – I have no children or mortgage and my staying in Ferentari was possible only because I had the safety net of a doctoral scholarship which allowed me an easy carefree life.

What I want to do as writer in residence at ODD is to dig deeper into my schizoid identity as a member of the world of the Center, where I don’t feel I belong, and a wannabe denizen of Ferentari, where I can’t really fit in. It’s interesting and sad at the same time to be amongst ‘real people’ of the working class, but the cost of such a life is a certain exclusion and obtuseness which, especially to a gay person, are of no help, but on the contrary, they bring even more alienation.

Therefore, considering that ODD is an art space in the Center of the city which will host me over a two and a half month period, I want to explore the Bucharest contemporary art world, with its characters, events, ideologies and gossip. Will it be for me, will it capture my imagination, after four years of living at the periphery? Hence, the title of my project, Single Man Looking, referring to the time spent at the gallery as a transition from something I thought was clear to me to something else, which is not clear yet, and to my loneliness and perpetual search for something – a person, a place, a purpose – at over 40.

As part of my residency I am proposing a program consisting of regular blog entries about the art world, its events and personae, a series of free of charge workshops on creative writing and a closing event, a concept party or something else entirely, to be announced in due time.

Reading Material


Adrian Schiop

My real name is Adrian-Ion Schiop, but I go by the pen name Adrian Schiop, which is also the name of the main character in my novels. I was born in Porumbacu de Jos, a village in Sibiu county, at the bottom of the Făgărași mountains, by the river Olt, where I first went to primary school. In 1997 I graduated from the Faculty of Psychology and Science of Education at the Babeș-Bolyai University and I went on to do a Master’s degree in Linguistics at the same university. In 2014 I completed my Ph.D. in Sociology at the National School for Political and Administrative Studies on the subject of manele, with the title Cunningness in an Envious World. The Social Universe of ‘Manele’ Ethno Pop. My professional path includes five years as a Literature high-school teacher (mostly at an industrial high-school in Cluj) and another five years as a cultural journalist (mostly at the România Liberă newspaper). Presently I am working for the Museum of Roma Culture which was recently created in Bucharest.

As a writer I made my debut in Fracturi magazine with a fragment from my first novel, pe bune/pe invers, which was published two years later by Polirom publishing house. Since then I have published two other novels, Zero Grade Kelvin (Polirom, 2009) and Soldaţii. Poveste din Ferentari (Polirom, 2013) which centers on a romantic affair between a journalist-anthropologist and 34 year old former convict who spent most of his formative years in jail (between the ages of 15 and 30). Soldaţii has won two prizes for best novel of the year 2014, from the weekly magazine Observatorul Cultural and from the Book Industry Gala and has gathered overwhelminghly positive reviews. Also as an art project, in 2009 I organized a party with the support of the National Dance Center at the National Theatre in Bucharest, which was, I believe, the first manele party for hipsters and the intelligentsia; as well as a public debate, featuring Ion Grigorescu, also at the Dance Center, in 2011, when the artist told me that the only way to make money, if that is what I want, is to forget about it, because this is how things are, the only people who make money are those who don’t want it.

I am also a collaborator of Criticatac online magazine, for which I authored a few articles, including How Romanian Elites Burried Manele. A Cocalari Story (2010), about the moral panic surrounding the manele phenomenon, which has had quite an effect in terms of informing future debated in intellectual milieus.