In 1992 shortly after the fall of communism Michael Jackson was the first Western
mega star to come for a concert to 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, 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 an almost religious meaning for
the people in a country in an unclear, very insecure political and economic
30 de ani de Optimism is a collaborative project between German artist Lisa Marie
Schmitt and Romanian artist Alexandru Mihai Budes interweaving the sociopolitical
phenomenon of the Jackson concert in 1992 with the story of Florian
Istrate, former owner of a porcelain manufacture in Alba Iulia.
In the mid 90’s 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.
Alexandru Mihai Budeș is a Romanian visual artist based in Berlin. Born in ’92 in an artist’s family, he first studied architecture in High School and later followed a BA in Theory and History of Art at the National University of Arts from Bucharest. Here he continued with an MA in Fine Arts/ Sculpturing, finishing with a scholarship abroad in the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar, Saarbrücken, Germany.
In 2019, he attended a residency at Cité internationale des arts Paris offered by the Cultural Institute of Romania. Recently he was selected by – the Senate Department for Culture and Europe Department of Culture for the Kulturaustauschstipendium – Istanbul (March-May 2022).
Lisa Marie Schmitt, born in 1991 in Trier is a German artist working with video,
photography, text and sculpture.Based on research, her works often combine a scientific background with a poetic one. She completed her studies at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar in Saarbrücken
under Prof. Georg Winter in 2017. Her works were shown in German art institutions such
as Kunsthalle Mannheim, Kunstverein Ludwigshafen or at the Arp Museum. She attended
a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris funded by Künstlerhaus Schloss
Balmoral in 2018. For 2021 she received the Scholarship for Cultural Exchange Berlin
Global by Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe for a project in cooperation
with Alexandru Mihai Budeș. Lisa Marie Schmitt lives and works in Berlin.