Art Cities of the Future
21st Century Avant-Gardes
Phaidon Press, 2013
Alex Mirutziu is Romania's leading young performance artist. His arresting practice hovers at the limits of self-exploration, experimentation and extreme personal discomfort. There is a retro quality to his work; its dark, ironic humour and masochistic edge evokes the oeuvre of Viennese Actionist Arnulf Rainer or seminal performance artist Vito Acconci. What distinguishes Mirutziu is his focus on 'when' rather than 'what'. He is fascinated by the chronicling of time and how it determines the significance of events. This is best expressed in the series Pending Works, which Mirutziu originated in 2009. But what must be understood is that each work is as much about its promise as its occurrence. For Pending Work #4 (2011-12), for example, a block of clay was buried on a mountain in Uetliberg, above Zurich. At the site, Mirutziu recorded data such as radiation and humidity and installed a CCTV camera, which is later controlled from his studio thousands of miles away. In one sense the work could be considered dormant and invisible, but it also functions as a kind of satellite, collecting information about itself and its surroundings, which are then broadcast to the artist. These covert behaviors and distancing tactics call into question whether Pending Work #4 is private act or public work.
The politics of performance has been a constant in his practice. Mirutziu can turn from using explicit homoerotic imagery in a performance context to using video to depict the Srebrenica Genocide (Moment of Silence 2011). His biography states, 'Mirutziu is the only artist to have made a group with a hyper-object (namely with himself at twenty-nine) and exhibit as a collective.' That is, he represents his twenty-nine-year-old self time and again, as if freezing this version of himself, by using photographs and videos shot during his twenty-ninth year. The relationship that forms between the artist in the instantaneous present and the artist at twenty-nine forms a rhetoric, though an unusual one. Unsurprisingly, Mirutziu's striking individualism and chameleon-like approach have gained him increasing visibility on the world stage.
Mirutziu was featured in 'Ars Homo Erotica', curated by Pawel Leskowicz at Warsaw's National Museum, in 2010. In 2012 he participated in 'European Travellers: Art from Cluj Today', curated by Judit Angel at Kunsthalle Budapest. One year previous, Rudiger Schottle invited Mirutziu to make a solo exhibition comprised of Pending Works and the 2011 work entitled Scotopolitic Object . The later features an attractively decorated vase wired up to a speaker and projector. As the viewers are drawn to the object of their gaze, it in turn is affected by their presence; if they touch it they disturb the image projected from its interior and change the amplified sound. It is an acutely observed demonstration of the strained relationship between the love of looking and the obsessive invasion of the object's space.
Mirutziu's insightfulness enables him to take what he needs from a given situation. This in no way detracts from the consistency of his practice; it simply suggests an artist who, independent of his peers, seeks to find ways to work within specific frameworks. During his studies at the University of Art and Design, he was affiliated with the painting department. There he encountered more difficulty than support, but the experience encouraged him to work independently. Though he found his studies frustrating, he remembers productive exchanges with photographer and video artist Grit Hachmeister, and he cites poet Angela Marinescu and filmmaker Lucian Pintilie (known as the creator of 'corrosive cinema') as influences. Mirutziu's difficult, elegant work suggests he has in fact taken a cue from Marinescu, who has said, 'Everything will be poetry if you are good at saying it.'