Money Pulp

Text: Silje Heggren, February 2018

In Liquid Capital, the Romanian artist Dan Mihaltianu will invite the audience to chew on dollar-bills, rinse their mouths with vodka, and spit the resulting pulp into glass containers. The pulp will then be distilled and bottled up, and sold to the highest bidder. Mihaltianu works in a field somewhere between performance and art-installation, and he wants to invite the audience to be both co-authors and consumers of the work.

-Can you tell me a little bit about the background of this artwork? 

Liquid Capital is part of a larger, long-term project, initiated in the early nineties, called Liquid Matter. This project refers to a wide range of aspects from water resources to financial resources, and from political transparencies and clearness to culture and entertainment.

-What is the work “Liquid Capital” about?

-In the work Liquid Capital, there are several aspects. Not only do the bottles encapsulate the result of the distillation of the chewed-up dollar bills, vodka, and saliva containing DNA from the participants, they are also an essence of the entire action, which involves the public as part of the creative process. The participants are producers, consumers and co-authors of this work. It is a work which has physical and symbolic aspects, both material and immaterial.  

-What made you join the project “Post Capitalistic Auction”? 

-This auction obviously has several things in common with my distillation projects. Not only do we share the social critique and alternative practices, but we also share a more relaxed way of working, creating and living in a world of Capital. 

-Why did you choose the work “Liquid Capital” for Post Capitalistic Auction? 

-I initially proposed two complementary works, the other being a piece entitled Capital Pool. It is a pool filled with vodka, which functions as a “fortune-fountain”, which the public is invited to throw money into. The generated capital could be reinvested by the “Associated Public” in artistic, social and philanthropic initiatives.

In the end, only Liquid Capital was chosen by the organizers. I guess they chose it for practical reasons, as it would be much easier to produce in such a short time. 

– What is the driving force behind your works, what is your core motivation? 

-There are several layers of approaching, understanding, and “consuming” my works. Aspects like knowledge, creativity, participation, entertainment, and even revelation, play a part. The artistic process combines material and immaterial forms, and in this sense, the distillation process is the transformation of matter from a solid into something volatile, and then into liquid form – a process which could reach endless cycles.

However, apart from the more or less “spiritual” and philosophical aspects, there are also elements of political, economic and social critique in this work – presented in palatable and digestible forms. It is an open project, and in the end, everyone can take it, understand it, and interpret it as they like, and if possible – add something to it.        

-If you could request anything you wanted in return for this artwork; what would it be? Money? A text? Tickets to a tennis match? Art? 

-Dollar-bills, actually. They are the motor driving this project, and I need as many of them as possible in order to continue. And people should get rid of them as soon as possible, in an artistic way, if they want to be happy. This is the best therapy. I think Marx would agree. But who knows, I could be surprised by other offers that are more important than money and art.  

 -What do you value most in art? And do you yourself buy, or collect art? 

-Authenticity, the capacity of art and artists is to be true to itself and themselves. I am first and foremost an art producer, as opposed to an art consumer. In this respect, I don’t buy art, and I don’t collect art in order to build a collection, or to invest.

However; I have a few art pieces. Some I inherited, some I have found, some were given to me, and some I have exchanged with artist friends and colleagues over time.

Liquid Capital is a continuation of a project where Mihaltianu distilled Karl Marx’s book Das Kapital. This project, entitled Das Kapital – Distillation, was shown in several places and events related to Marx’s works, or places related to new socio-economic-political approaches. It was shown at Playbour: art and immaterial labour at Karl Marx Memorial Library in London (2015), at Landmark / Bergen Kunsthall (2016), at Karl Marx Buchhandlung in Berlin (2016), and Moneylab #3 in Amsterdam (2016).

Dan Mihaltianu
Born: 1954, Bucharest 
Lives and works in Bucharest, Berlin and Bergen

Liquid Capital (2018)
A performative/participative installation dedicated to the works of Karl Marx.  The bottle edition 1/1 (prototype) can be acquired during the auction.