Dan Perjovschi solo show, Drawing Protest: From Museum Walls to Facebook Walls and Back
May 8-September 7, 2014
Shedhalle, Rote Fabrik, Seestr. 365, Zurich, Switzerland, www.shedhalle.ch
Press release in German, click here
Images from the vernissage, click here
Images from The Making of…documentation of the installation process, click here
Panel Discussion: My Enemy’s Enemy, Art Activism and questionable political alliances in current social movements With: Balthasar Glättli, Bernard Schmid, Dan Perjovschi, Eugen David.
Moderated by Olga Stefan, click here
Images from the atist talk, click here
Images from the film screening, click here
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 laypeople, 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: From Museum Walls to Facebook Walls and Back, 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, and 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 notable 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, www.olgaistefan.wordpress.com
Events in conjunction with the exhibition (all events at the Shedhalle):
Monday and Tuesday, May 5 and 6, 1pm-3pm
Press Preview – interviews with Dan Perjovschi and documentation of the exhibition as it is being developed onsite possible with the press
Thursday, May 8, 7-10pm
Panel Discussion: My Enemy’s Enemy: Art Activism and questionable political alliances in current social movements. Thursday, May 8, 8-9pm With: Balthasar Glättli, Bernard Schmid, Dan Perjovschi, and others.
Saturday, May 10, 1-3pm
Artist Talk – Dan Perjovschi
Thursday, May 22, 7-9pm
Film Screening – two films
Avant Premiere and Private Screening, Where Are You, Bucharest? Film by Vlad Petri. 80′
Vlad Petri followed the Romanian protesters who occupied the streets of Bucharest two years ago. A poignant documentary about people who are devastated and impulsive, lost and encouraged, all at once. And about a revolution that becomes a tragic absurdity.
Romanian Autumn, Film by Matei Budeș, 15’
Last fall, Romanians took to the streets – in Romania and beyond – to protest against the bill on mining at Rosia Montana. After decades of political and economic corruption and fraud, people were able to channel their disillusionment in the movement to protect the cultural heritage of Rosia Montana. The film is a discreet tribute to the protesters, their cause and their long-tried unification. That too is Romania.
Parallel Event – Corner College, Kochstr. 1, Zurich, 20Uhr
Artist Talk – Lia Perjovschi, The Knowledge Museum
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 ofits 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).