We found out yesterday that the humble radiator, the kind of home appliance most people only notice when stops working or – worse – starts leaking, was invented in Romania*. In Transylvania to be precise.
We found out this nugget of information from the new head of the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR), Andrei Marga, who yesterday gave the Romanian public an idea of the kind of direction in which he intends to take the institute.
Marga used the invention of the radiator as an example of the kind of thing the ICR should be promoting alongside film, the visual arts and music: Romanian technology. ‘There are hundreds of such things which were invented in Romania,’ he said, ‘this is something else we should be telling the world about.’
The reaction from the world of the Romanian liberal classes towards this new approach, however, has been predictably unwelcoming. The radiator has become a rather large metal stick with which they are beating Marga at every opportunity.
The real irony of this is that if one of the so-called artists the previous head of the ICR – Horia Roman Patapievici – was happy to promote had stuck a broken radiator on the floor in the middle of a New York gallery it would have been declared ‘a biting piece of satire on the mundane existence of urban Romanians in the 1980s.’
Far less amusing is Marga’s call for vigilance towards those who portray Romania in anything other than the most flattering manner.
He has called on the ICR to watch out for anything ‘incorrect, using denigrating terms, cliches or any other form of tendentious comment about Romania and the Romanian people which diminish, minimilise or distort traditional Romanian values.’
That’s us well and truly buggered.
*While our feelings on the reliability of Wikipedia are well known, a quick glance at the entry for radiator makes no mention of Romania. The modern radiator was a Russian invention, apparently.