Alexandru Mihai Budes & Lisa Marie Schmitt
30 de ani de Optimism
01.06.22 – 30.06.22
In 1992 shortly after the fall of communism Michael Jackson was the first Western megastar to come for a concert in Bucharest. While until 1989 great mass events served only political purposes, suddenly thousands of youngsters made a pilgrimage from the North Station to the National Arena blocking tramways, buses, and streets, singing loudly, turning the whole city upside down.
Mihai Coman, Media Scientist and Professor at Bucharest University, describes this event as a ritual of collective purification, with almost religious meaning for the people in a country in an unclear, very insecure political and economic situation.
30 de ani de Optimism is a collaborative project between German artist Lisa Marie Schmitt and Romanian artist Alexandru Mihai Budes interweaving the socio-political phenomenon of the Jackson concert in 1992 with the story of Florian Istrate, former owner of a porcelain manufactory in Alba Iulia.
In the mid-’90s, Istrate was contacted by Dieter Wiesner, who later became Michael Jackson’s manager, for a commission of over 100.000 figurines of the King of Pop decorated in gold and platinum.
After the first delivery of the first 1.000 pieces, contact was cut abruptly and Istrate remained with thousands of unfinished figurines. After closing his company and quitting his entire staff, the ceramic workshop was left almost untouched for about 30 years, inhabited only by figurines and artifacts of production. Why Wiesner suddenly ended their cooperation remains unclear to this day.
The title of the project, 30 de ani de Optimism, quotes the current Coca-Cola advertising campaign in Romania referring to the fall of communism as well as the import of Coca-Cola products. Likewise, Jackson serves as a symbolic figure here, a western product with the bright aura of a Saint seemingly to finally bring the long-desired freedom.
This project is funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.