Dan Perjovschi

I Am Not Exotic – I Am Exhausted

Over the past years the Kunsthalle Basel has been inviting several artists to do a special project for its back wall (next to Elisabethenkirche). Among others, Franz Ackermann painted a large mural in 2000 as did Sarah Morris in 2002, and Piotr Uklanski created a wall-covering mosaic consisting of porcelain dishes in 2004. We are pleased to announce the inauguration of the new project for the back wall of the Kunsthalle Basel I Am Not Exotic – I Am Exhausted by the artist Dan Perjovschi.

Dan Perjovschi has achieved international attention with drawings he sketches directly on the walls of museums and art institutions with black, waterproof markers (e.g. MOMA, 2007; 9th Istanbul Biennial, 2005). His drawings, reminiscent of caricatures, graffiti or cartoons comment with a biting humour on the socio-political events of his immediate environment as well as current world events. Dan Perjovschi questions his status as an international artist with Eastern European roots just as he reflects upon the art business and the (cultural) political situation in the various places where his work is exhibited. He reveals the paradoxes of the Western system of values with simple, vivid line drawings and the English language as a global means of communication. His criticism of institutionalism is often ironic. Since his works on the wall can only be viewed for the duration of the exhibition and are subsequently painted over, Dan Perjovschi is not subject to the common criteria of the market. His works are created in an act of performance in which motives that have already been used are re-adopted, combined differently somewhere else and then linked with current events. Thus Dan Perjovschi creates a continuing project with his drawings, not bound to a single place and manifesting itself anew on each wall.

Originally trained as a painter, Dan Perjovschi had already turned to other artistic strategies during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. Together with his wife Lia Perjovschi he organised performances and other activities in their apartment in Bucharest. After the execution of the dictator and his wife the couple began, now also in public, to strongly advocate a new definition of Romania’s cultural politics. The dissolution of the repressive regime and the subsequent confusion in the months after the turn of events, for example the bloody suppression of the student demonstrations in Bucharest during the period of political re-orientation, were the reason for this engaged activism combined with the search for alternatives in politics and art. Dan Perjovschi is a member of the “Group of Social Dialogue”, Romanian intellectuals, who advocate critical dialogue and have been publishing the weekly newspaper “Revista 22” since 1991. The artist still works for this newspaper regularly today as an illustrator and columnist.

Dan Perjovschi is going to produce a new work on the back wall of the Kunsthalle Basel over a period of several days. He thus creates precise and spontaneously sketched commentaries of words and images in a subversive and direct way. Instead of a permanent marker, they will be applied with spray paint commonly used for graffitis. Perjovschi’s drawings can therefore be discovered in public on the back wall of the Kunsthalle Basel over a time period of several months. The drawings will react to the actual context of Basel just as much as they will reflect the artist’s ongoing confrontation with the socio-political situation of Europe and the world.

The day of the inauguration of the back wall, Thursday, November 15, 2007, the artist Otto Berchem will talk with Dan Perjovschi about his artistic practice. The conversation takes place at 5.30 pm at the Kunsthalle Bar.

Our thanks are extended to Annemarie Burckhardt for her generous support of Dan Perjovschi’s project.

Dan Perjovschi (1961, Sibiu/Rumania)
Solo exhibitions (selection):
2007 *What Happens to US? Project 85, MoMA New York; *States of Mind
, Nasher Museum, Duke University (with Lia Perjovschi) / 2006 The Room Drawing, Tate Modern.
Group exhibitions (selection):
2007 Feeling with your mind, thinking with your senses, 52. Venice Biennial / 2006 Chaos: The Age of Confusion, Bucharest Biennale, Bucharest/RO.

Otto Berchem (1967, Milford/CT, lives in Amsterdam)
Dan Perjovschi and Otto Berchem met while preparing their projects for the 9. Istanbul Biennial. Ironically, Perjovschi was wearing a t-shirt (the front had the text “Welcome to Europe”, and on the back “Now go home”) made by Berchem. Their chats in Istanbul continued in Limerick, and eventually led to an interview published in the magazine Metropolis M, in 2006.
Recent exhibitions by Berchem include:
2007 *Sur la Route
, S.M.A.K., Gent; The Suspended Moment (H & F Collection), Centraal Museum, Utrecht / 2006 Give(a)way, EV+A, Limerick; Branding, Kunsthaus CentrePasquArt, Biel / 2005 Istanbul, 9. International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul.

We would like to thank Annermarie Burckhardt for the generous support of this project.

In cooperation with culturescapes Rumänien