Random Shots of Awe from the Unfinished Festival 2018 in Bucharest (EN)


  • This thought belongs to renowned Taiwanese freethinking artist Tehching Hsieh, Master of Wasting Time, as he likes to call himself.
  • While we, Romanians, were striving to survive the communism, during the ’70s and ’80s he was exploring the meaning of life through radical artistic expressions, such as isolation in a cage or living tied up by a rope to another person for a whole year.
  • This type of extreme actions brought him a particular sense of time, which he kindly allowed us to experience for ourselves during the 6 minute video he ran in silence.
  • While living caged for a year, he managed to survive space depravation by imagining his bed as his home and the other three corners of his cell as going out places.
  • He says he is not doing art in itself, as life is a form of art, which is why he uses the expression doing life.

“So, which of the two jumps was more hurtful for you?”

“It’s typical to compare. I already changed after the first jump, so I don’t really know how to answer that.”


  • Barbara Soalheiro, founder of Mesa & Cadeira in Brasil, believes in doing!
  • Barbara developed the MESA Method as a tool to solve any complex problem in only 5 days!
  • The MESA Method = 1 leader at the head of the table + a team with all knowledge and every skill you need + one mission!
  • Cherished values: agree “rituals, not rules”, hire “freelance bosses”, believe “to work is to create”
  • One of the MESA principles in building a team to work together is “never use the word collaboration”
  • Barbara avoids hiring head of the table for their people skills!
  • Mesa’s clients include big brands and names, among which Neil Harbinsson, the first cyborg recognised by a government!


  • As Gabriel Diaconu was heading to the stage, people in the audience started looking their way out of the room for a cup of coffee. He told people he would wait for another 2 minutes for them to decide whether they want to stay or go.
  • Well, forget about the coffee! When you have a psychiatrist with obsessive-compulsive and narcissistic disorders (self-declared!) on stage, you don’t want to miss anything out!
  • His presentation was an amazing voyage through myths, drawings, chaos, metaphors, speedy changes of rhythm and soft passive voices.
  • This voyage reminded me about how fast and random our mind switches between thoughts in every moment, in either a private or professional setting (meeting, training, coaching session).
  • I’m still not sure whether he took my positive feedback in the end as a compliment, though that was my intention! So if you read this, I meant it!


  • My heart skipped a bit during Maria Toorpakai Wazir‘s talk!
  • She is a professional squash player who was born in South Waziristan, along the Pakistan Afghanistan border.
  • This area is known as the most dangerous place on earth and the birthplace of the Taliban.
  • At the age of four and a half, Maria cut her hair and burnt her girly clothes as a way to rebel against the rules, were girls were bought and sold into marriages and had to face violence and lack of freedom of choice.
  • Maria’s life changed completely due to her father’s reaction seeing her with short hair and wearing boy clothes: he started laughing, encouraging her to go on with her rebellion!
  • Her father also supported her to play squash and enrolled her in competitions that were destined only for boys!
  • Maria runs a foundation to help young girls and boys in remote regions of the world, particularly the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. 
  • When she finished her presentation, the audience cheered with a standing ovation in the Throne Hall at MNAR. People had tears in their eyes, including myself. I went straight to her and gave each other a hug.
  • I took the right-hand photo before Maria’s went on stage to be interviewed by attorney Kimberley Motley, the first foreigner who has ever litigated cases in Afghanistan’s Criminal Courts.


  • Ayesha Gulalai Wazir is an incredibly brave activist!
  • She is the first female member of the Parliament and the first woman to have a political party in Pakistan!
  • Empowered by the free-thinking of her father who is a teacher, at the age of 7 she decided to change the poor conditions girls live in Pakistan and empower women fight for their rights to education and emotional and physical safety
  • Sexual abuse is a subject girls are not encouraged to talk about, but to hide and respect the society laws with obedience.
  • I sat in the front row during Ayesha’s speech. She sent the audience so much energy and balance, despite the hardships of the environment she lives and works in!
  • People in the room asked her about fear, death threats, moments of self-doubt or lack of support from other women. Ayesha quoted her father: “never give up!”


  • Alfredo Jaar just blew my mind!
  • He is an artist, architect and filmmaker. Also the father of composer Nicolas Jaar.
  • The Auditorium was full of people during his speech, I barely could find a place to sit on my knees at the back of the room.
  • Motto in his work: Everything I know I learned the day my son was born.
  • I got the chills seeing Alfredo Jaar’s project in a park in Dallas, Texas (USA)
  • The building is a form of living art.
  • The artists displayed are new born babies’ first cries in this world.
  • Their cries flood the built-in space at the exact moment of their birth and so the children become part of the culture even before entering the world itself.
  • Alfredo Jaar paid tribute to Romanian art, by ending his one-hour amazing presentation with a visual portrait of avant-garde artist Geta Brătescu.
  • I used his piece Other People Think to illustrate this article (scroll down for the whole story)


  • Such a disruptive moment with poet and activist Aja Monet!
  • Aja is of Cuban-Jamaican decent and is currently based in the State of Florida, USA
  • She runs Smoked Signals Studio, a community based music space where artists meet for transformation and liberation
  • Aja read us a poem she had written during her days in Romania for the festival
  • Aja’s poetry is painfully honest, explicit and vivid, while common words fall into weird places to put meaning where there is none. Like “dark does matter”, where the noun matter becomes the verb.
  • Her style reminded me of artist Aqua Naru
  • I read that Harry Belafonte called Aja Monet “The true definition of an artist”.
  • I am no literary critic, so I believe Aja is an example of what an artist should be: empowering activist for social causes and constant fighter for the human right to be free!

NOW-ness vs. WOW-ness

  • Ironically, as I was heading to the highly profiled speech of Esther Perel on spicing up our relationships, I ended up spicing up my life in another room!
  • I thought, why talk about desire and sexiness in life instead of feeling it right now?
  • The Royal Dining Hall in MNAR was so inviting as Marinela Ardelean introduced us to Liquid Curiosity: The Unconventional World of Wines
  • Marinela is a professor at Italian Chef Academy (Rome, Italy), professional wine taster and brand ambassador.
  • She is the author of the award-winning bilingual book „50 Romanian wines meet 50 Italian Eats” and initiator of the project „The Wine Book of Romania”, bilingual guide of the best wines in Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
  • Wine tasting sessions are very fruitful in information and in meeting new people of various tastes and opinions.
  • Marinela indulged us with Piper-Heidsieck Rose Sauvage champagne and Moritz coconut ice-cream sprinkled with sea salt and chilli bites! Her advice for us: experiment bravely, try out different combinations of textures!
  • Such a disruptive hedonistic experience!


  • Ah, Nicolas Jaar! The American-Chilean born in New York and now living in Europe electronic music composer!
  • He has a surprising background: a University degree in comparative literature, only 5 piano lessons taken and musical influence of DJ Ricardo Villalobos
  • Nicolas Jaar plays music by chance, not by discipline.
  • His approach is to make mistakes and use them to compose further by looping mistakes.
  • Just like with music, Nicolas Jaar can’t be explained. He needs to be listened to.
  • Here is “Killing Time” one of the tracks he played during the festival, that reflects his unique way of composing: it’s what you do with what technology gives you!
  • During the Unfinished Festival, Jaar was interviewed by journalist Farah Nayeri – Culture Correspondent for the New York Times. Here are some of his words:

Source of inspiration: “Harmony is possible at psychological level.”

Intention in making music: “I only wanted to scream considering all that’s happening in the world […] Silence is it’s own kind of scream.”

Performing on a time schedule: “The interior space has trouble feeling weird in this type of strict show.”

Being an artist: “I prefer the unfinished process rather than the finite product.”

The title of this note,“The Sound and the Fury”, is the title of the first novel by William Faulkner, one of the two writers that Nicolas Jaar studied for his paper in comparative literature. I found it peculiarly interesting that Jaar’s music may somewhat have been influenced by Faulkner experimental style of writing, attention to detail and frequent use of “stream of consciousness” (see Jaar’s looping mistakes), with many feelings variations, from emotional to cerebral or eclectic.

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