30 Years of Optimism

24 Nov 2023 – 8 Dec 2023

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Berlin, Germany


Travel Information

  • Jüdisches Museum
  • Hallesches Tor, Kochstraße
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Opening: 24.11.2023 at 6 pm
Open: 25.11.2023 – 08.12.2023
Thursday – Saturday 4 – 7 pm
by appointment any other day: team@roam-projects.eu

roam project space
Lindenstraße 91
10969 Berlin


We cordially invite you to the opening of the exhibition "30 Years of Optimism" by Alexandru Mihai Budeș and Lisa Marie Schmitt at roam projects on the 24th November.

In 1992 shortly after the fall of communism Michael Jackson was the first Western mega star 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 with an unclear and very insecure political-economical situation. At the same time, the concert is described as an instrument to cleanse the tarnished image of the presidential candidate who would soon win the first free election. 

30 Years of Optimism is a collaborative project between German artist Lisa Marie Schmitt and Romanian artist Alexandru Mihai Budeș 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 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 more than 20 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 Years of Optimism (original title: 30 de ani de Optimism) quotes a Romanian Coca-Cola advertising campaign from 2021 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.

Along with this exhibition at roam projects the artists are launching an edition of pieces of the porcelain figurines originally produced by Florian Istrate around 1996. The proceeds are intended for Florian Istrate, as both artists consider this an essential statement in the framework of the project.

The film has been realized with funding from the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.

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