Issue #45, 2014

Liquid Economy: Production/Consumption/Alienation
Dan Mihălțianu

Late modernity doesn’t have a vanishing point, its edges are in continuous expansion, the nomadic dominates daily life and permanence and continuity are just touristic brands. The contemporary global incorporates local practices, it evens, mixes and turns them into recognizable signs, into consumption goods; relationships are intense but short-lived, the production assembly lines become invisible, the dreams-selling machines shine in big, neon letters and the present turns into steam and vapours. These traits, many of which compose the epoch of “liquid modernity” as it was described by Zygmunt Bauman at the beginning of the new millennium can be found already in the first part of the 90s in the works of contemporary artists, especially those in the former Eastern bloc, for whom the borders literally liquefy and capital becomes synonymous to free circulation (the free flow of capital). These artists became known as collectors of pictures of the ephemeral, documentarists of the new urban landscapes, attentive to the idiosyncratic encounters between cultures suddenly forced to coexist, inventorying their personal experiences as last testimonies of a world which irreversible change we now perceive in real time, or creating for the other conditions of multi-sensory experience which indicate the infiltration of the different into the familiar.

Dan Mihălțianu hasn’t stopped investigating and recording this world to the years when he left Romania for the more-or-less Western Europe. His research project on “liquid economy” has become a permanent one, in which one can read the permeability of local and global contexts, the continuous interchanges between them, the avoidance of a uniform and unitary system’s instauration through the survival of alternative economies or life-styles, as well as the flexibility of social-political structures in which the artist (the cultural worker) can at any time offer a model of adaptability.

In the selection made for IDEA one can read the main directions of this research, each one of them representing a synthetic image both of the past 25 years and of an open present – from the used pairs of jeans (1990–2013) to the crowds in the streets and the potentially incendiary bottle. (Raluca Voinea)

“The term ’Liquid Economy’ refers to the fluidity, volatility, versatility and unpredictability of a global phenomenon – the existence of alternative, autonomous, parallel or underground economies, within the actual official economical system. The persistence of traditional and archaic practices combined with new technologies and production forms in the process of readjustment to new political, social and economic situations that are occurring periodically in our society, is a factor of continuity and development, but also an alternative to a global economy, subordinated to transnational structures and interests. There is a strong interconnection between economic, social and cultural structures at all levels, which makes the dichotomies official/underground, legal/illegal, industrial/artisanal, high culture/popular culture, professional/amateur, skilled/autodidact, traditional/visionary, almost inseparable. The project looks into the main aspects of ’liquid economies’ – positions – relations – resources – practices – infrastructure – sustainability – production – distribution – consumption – capitalization. (Dan Mihălțianu)


Dan Mihălțianu born 1954 in Bucharest, cofounded subREAL in 1990 (cooperation until 1993), has initiated and coordinated a series of international projects, such as: Balt-Orient-Express, ifa-Galerie Berlin, Kunsthale Exnergasse Vienna, National Museum of Art Bucharest, 1996; Transferatu, ifa-Galerie Berlin, 1999;Transcafe, Galeria Noua Bucharest, 2000; Liquid Matter, Kunstraum Bethanien Berlin, 2006; Social Cooking Romania, NGBK Berlin, 2007.

Since the 1980s his work has been exhibited in various solo and group shows, among others: Les Rencontres Internationales, Paris, Berlin, 2014; Literacy-Illiteracy, 16th Tallin Print Triennial, 2014; Les enfants de Ceaușescu et de George Soros, Plan B Gallery, Berlin, 2013; subREAL Retrospect, MNAC, Bucharest, SALT, Istanbul, 2012, 2013; Official History, Galerie Renate Kammer, Hamburg, 2011; Plaques tournantes, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2010; Nightsense, Nuit blanche Toronto, 2009; Divided Files, 3.14 International Contemporary Art Foundation Bergen, 2008; The Process, Prague Biennale 3, 2007; New Video, New Europe, Renaissance Society Chicago, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Tate Modern London, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, The Kitchen New York, 2004–2006; Tracing Space, Bergen Kunsthall, 2005; Not on the Sky & not on the Earth, Museum of Modern Art, Skopje, 2004; Context, Romanian Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia. 49., 2001; CTRL [SPACE], ZKM/Museum for Contemporary Arts Karlsruhe, 2001; Periferic 4, Iași, 2000; Video Cult/ures, ZKM/Museum for Contemporary Arts Karlsruhe, 1998; Ad Hoc, Museum of Contemporary Art – Ludwig Museum, Budapest, 1997; Firewater, Art in General, New York, 1996; Nineteen-fifty-four, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 1994; Aperto, 45th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale/Biennale di Venezia, 1993; Production of Cultural Difference, 3rd International Istanbul Biennial, 1992; Points East, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, 1990; Impact Art Festival, Municipal Art Museum, Kyoto, 1986, 1987, 1988; Art of Today, Club of Young Artists, Budapest, 1986, 1987;European Print Triennial, Grado, 1987.