Ciprian Muresan

Choose

2005

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Not on display

Artist
Ciprian Muresan born 1977
Medium
Video, monitor, colour and sound
Dimensions
Duration: 45sec, looped
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by an anonymous donor 2015
Reference
T14845

Summary

Choose 2005 is a colour video, forty-five seconds long but played on a continuous loop on a single monitor. It exists in an edition of three, which are held in private collections in Europe and America, as well as two artist’s proofs of which this copy is the first. The video shows a young boy dressed in a white vest and seated at a table. There is an empty glass in front of him, a can of Pepsi to its left and a can of Coca-Cola to its right. The child is Vlad Muresan, the artist’s son, and as the video progresses he proceeds to pour both drinks into the glass, mixing Pepsi with Coca-Cola before taking a sip. In contrast to the artist’s own childhood experience in communist Romania, Vlad belongs to the generation born into a society radically transformed by democracy and capitalism after the country’s revolution in 1989. Choose mocks the codes of consumerism, marketing and propaganda circulating after the overthrow of President Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime by pointing out the similarity between two products differentiated mostly by brand identities. The work seems to ask why we make a choice between two global market competitors, and submit to advertising’s call to brand loyalty, when it is possible to have both.

While informed by Romania’s own history, the video’s images also convey associations that are more universal. Speaking about Choose the artist has commented:

This idea was generated from a conversation I had with my son. We decided that Pepsi and Coca-Cola have the same taste and are almost the same product, yet they are very distinct images. They are engaged in a sort of promotional advertising war, and yet they are basically identical. We joked about what sort of product we would get if we were to mix together two things that are both the same and different. Pepsi has a place in Romania’s Communist past, you know; somehow, the soda managed to enter into the country before the Revolution, and it had a small market. I don’t know how it got in, since we were not supposed to have any contact at all with Western values and products.
(Quoted in Emily Nathan, ‘Strange Days: An Interview with Ciprian Muresan’, Artnet, 20 July 2011, http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/nathan/ciprian-muresan-7-20-11.asp, accessed 30 January 2015.)

Muresan’s diverse practice also includes photography (see, for example, Leap into the Void, after Three Seconds 2004, Tate P20523), sculpture, animation, installation and drawing (see, for example, All Images from the Elaine Sturtevant Book 2014, Tate T14498). His work shares with other contemporary artists from Eastern and Southeast Europe an affinity for historical issues and a critical approach to ideology. Muresan’s practice is equally concerned with the reinterpretation of the traditions of conceptual art, with appropriation and the use of irony. Religion, childhood, post-communism, art, film and literary history are the subjects and references that Muresan translates into various media and formal languages, recombining and presenting them anew. Muresan’s practice reflects on the experience of history, the construction of individuality and the confrontation between the memory of the recently overturned communist utopia and the new reality of global capitalism.

Choose was shown in the Project Space at Tate Modern, London, in 2012 as part of the exhibition Stage and Twist. It has also been shown in solo exhibitions including Recycled Playground at FRAC, Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, in 2011, at the Centre d’art Contemporaine in Geneva in 2012, at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, in 2013, in Ciprian Muresan at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Berlin in 2010 and in group exhibitions including European Travellers – Art from Cluj Today at the Mucsarnok Kunsthalle Budapest in 2012, as well as The Generational: Younger Than Jesus at the New Museum in New York in 2009.

Further reading
Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Gioni, Laura Hoptman and Brian Sholis (eds.), Younger than Jesus: The Generation Book, New York 2008, reproduced p.134.
Andrei State, ‘The Democratic Device’, in Alina Serban (ed.), The Seductiveness of the Interval: The Romanian Pavilion at the Fifty-third International Art Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Venice Biennale, Venice 2009, pp.61–8, reproduced pp.62, 66.
Marius Babias (ed.), Ciprian Muresan, exhibition catalogue, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin 2010, reproduced pp.171–3, 175.

Juliet Bingham
January 2015

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