Solo Show / Dan Perjovschi
From Museum Walls to Facebook Walls and Back
May 9, 2014 – September 7, 2014
Eröffnung: May 8, 2014, 7 p.m.
Dan Perjovschi (Sibiu, RO, 1961), an artist known for more than 25 years for his politically charged wall drawings within institutional spaces, has been involved in Facebook activism for more than 2 years, slowly merging his artistic practice from analog to digital drawings, which he posts to his page. There, his thousands of friends share and discuss his political statements, mostly agreeing, but also sometimes critiquing and offering rebuttals, creating a rich exchange among individuals from diverse backgrounds, including cultural workers, academics, political figures, journalists, and others, making Perjovschi’s page a locus for serious social mobilization.
Facebook has been referred to in recent years as an important contributor to the sustenance of global protests, ranging from the Occupy movement to the political upheavals still taking place in the Middle East, Venezuela, Ukraine, and elsewhere, some even dubbed as Facebook revolutions. It serves as a platform for information sharing and organizing for protesters and leaders when their physical interaction is often violently suppressed. But Facebook’s importance in political revolutions has also been dismissed by those who suggest that pushing for real action, rather than merely raising awareness, still necessitates personal relationships and influence, not the weak networks that Facebook is based on.
In his current solo exhibition, DRAWING PROTEST, almost as if to respond and try to offer his own conclusions to this debate, Dan Perjovschi presents his artistic activism on behalf of the Save Rosia Montana Campaign in Romania as well as other political movements worldwide. Save Rosia Montana is a non-profit organization that has been actively opposing the construction of a cyanide gold mine for the past ten years, gaining momentum only in September 2013 when nation-wide protests erupted after parliament secretly voted to accept the mining proposal. These protests quickly spread around the world in the Romanian diaspora, engaging and unifying a diverse demographic with often politically opposing views, including left and right, nationalists and internationalists, and ultimately leading to the cancellation of the proposed project, a significant win.
Through his poignant and witty juxtapositions of text and forms, Perjovschi is able to capture the essence of the political issues he tackles, while offering highly sophisticated commentary in quick and accessible strokes. This ability to reduce complex ideas to simple signs has gained him respect as an art activist, while his enthusiasm for communicating through his drawings the messages of the protest movements that he embraces has turned him into a figurehead of sorts. And as such, his drawings have been consistently circulated around the world through Facebook, printed, and then reintegrated as banners in world-wide protests, especially those associated with Save Rosia Montana Campaign and more recently in Ukraine.
By turning to Facebook as another place for “exhibiting” his work, Perjovschi not only addresses the impact of art on politics, but also engages in institutional critique, questioning the importance of the art gallery and museum as the main venue for dialogue between art (especially political) and the so-called public. Yet Perjovschi understands that Facebook, like the art institution itself, cannot be the only platform for distributing his work. Therefore in DRAWING PROTEST he comes back to the museum to highlight the museum’s own limitations.
In this exhibition, Perjovschi presents a large site-specific installation combining print-outs of Facebook drawings and the respective comments made by his friends, along with ephemeral wall drawings and drawings on newspapers, thus subverting the concepts of authenticity and copyright, the aura of the unique – elements of art that are considered vital to the survival of the museum in its present form – ultimately questioning the merits of the art object itself. His artistic approach is directed against the commodification of art and reflects his view of art as a democratic mode of communication, especially in the context of political activism, while offering hope that art can once again make an impact in popular consciousness. In the long tradition of political graffiti, Dan Perjovschi submits a new perspective on the wall drawing and its transformative potential through the intersection of technology with traditional mediums to represent the hybridity of forms that the public nowadays more directly and honestly responds to.
Dan Perjovschi has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions around the world including the Rejkyavik Museum of Art, Ludwigsburg Kunsthalle, the Royal Ontario Museum, the San Francisco Institute of the Arts, Espai d’Art Contemporani in Castellon, the Wiels Center for Contemporary Art Brussels, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Tate Modern. He has participated in large-scale exhibitions including the Paris Triennial, Manifesta, and others.
Curated by Olga Stefan
Events in conjunction with the exhibition (all events at the Shedhalle):
Monday, May 5, 1 p.m.- 3 p.m.
Tuesday, May 6, 1 p.m.- 3 p.m.
Thursday, May 8, 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 8, 8 p.m.
My Enemy’s Enemy
Art Activism and questionable political alliances in current social movements
With: Balthasar Glättli, Bernard Schmid, Dan Perjovschi, Eugen David, and others.
Moderated by Olga Stefan
Saturday, May 10, 1 – 3 p.m.
with Dan Perjovschi
Thursday, May 22, 7-9 p.m.
Film Screening – Avant Première
Where Are You, Bucharest?
(Dir.: Vlad Petri, RO, 80 min.)
Vlad Petri followed the Romanian protesters who occupied the streets of Bucharest in 2012 leading to the referendum that brought the Ponta government to power. A poignant documentary about people who are devastated and impulsive, cynical and encouraged, who want change but get lost in reactionary ideology and ultimately lack any real options. And about a revolution that becomes a tragic absurdity, with inner struggles between the left and the right, and fear of globalisation based on nationalism.
(Dir.: Matei Budeș, RO, 15 min.)
Last fall, Romanians took to the streets – in Romania and beyond – to protest against the bill on cyanide mining at Rosia Montana. After decades of political and economic corruption and fraud, people were able to channel their disillusionment in a movement to protect Rosia Montana from exploitation. The film is a discreet tribute to the protesters and their unification, which went through various stages, bringing the left and the right in conflict and an ambivalent temporary alliance for this particular cause.
Saturday, May 3, 8 p.m.
The Knowledge Museum
Artist Talk with Lia Perjovschi
at Corner College, Kochstr. 1, Zurich
Lia and Dan Perjovschi have often collaborated on political and social causes, but also artistically on the Contemporary Art Archive, an ongoing project and the first archive of its kind in Romania. Lia Perjovschi will discuss a few of her previous projects in their context, the evolution of her practice and the changes it underwent as a result of various personal, social and political events, and how she ultimately reached the Knowledge Museum. The Knowledge Museum is a project in which Lia recycles all her other artistic projects including elements of her Contemporary Art Archive (CAA). Like an architect, she presents a model – on a table, on the walls, or in a space – using diagrams from her interdisciplinary research. This research comes from books, reviews, the internet, and objects mainly in museum stores from around the globe (collected from 1999 until today and used for educational purposes). The Knowledge Museum comprises 7 departments: Earth, Body, Art, Culture, Knowledge, Science, and Universe. It is not ‘The Museum’, but rather a basic starting point. Knowledge is Surviving (doing the best you can out of what you have).
Texts: Olga Stefan