Anonymous Materials

Santiago Reyes Villaveces


Timișoara’s distinction as Romania’s pioneer in computer production owes much to the socialist-era investments in its chemical and non-ferrous metallurgy sectors. Yet, what if these mineral materials were not passive objects shaped solely by human history, but rather possessed their own intentions and capacities in intricate human-non-human interactions?

‘Anonymous Materials’ is an assemblage of objects, mineral samples, and geological data, exploring how industrial processes and daily life can be viewed as the outcome of material agency. Under the guidance of Jurca Marius, the samples were selected from the collection of the Faculty of Industrial Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, at the Politehnica University of Timișoara. These were correlated with the Geological Institute of Romania’s cartographic database, to develop the geological map mural. The assortment of everyday objects, discarded items, and fragments of the city were gathered during an artistic residency.

The interplay between scientific and poetic languages, knowledges, and research methodologies makes palpable how material agency might manifest as by-products, traces, non-human scales, or disruptions within complex interconnected systems. The legibility transcends the confines of traditional techno-scientific value creation, and signals the possibilities of alternative value systems. 

Courtesy of the designer

Santiago Reyes Villaveces examines knowledge systems used to control and colonise nature. He uses drawings, installations, moving images, and sculptures as techniques to engage with systems of power and their contemporary materiality.

Jurca Marius is a senior lecturer in the Applied Chemistry and Engineering of Inorganic Compounds and Environment, within the Faculty of Industrial Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, specialising in crystallography and mineralogy, among other things.

Data Sources
  • Petrovici, Alexe, Bejinariu, 2023. ‘Economy in Timișoara: Territorial Distribution of the Economy in the Timișoara Metropolitan Area’
  • Faculty of Industrial Chemistry and Environmental Engineering at the Politehnica University of Timișoara
  • Geological Institute of Romania
  • Gold Museum in Brad
  • Cornel Mera, Cupru Min S.A. and Roșia Poieni Mine
  • Village Museum in Timișoara
  • Badea Cârțan Market in Timișoara
  • Flavia Flea Market in Timișoara

The designer was assisted in developing his painting by: Ciprian Ciobanu, Raluca Micula, Mihaela Vișovan, Amadeea Lazăr.