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Art of the process: Lia Perjovschi

Shaking-up the gallery space with a visual and mental brainstorming session, Romanian artist Lia Perjovschi opens the Unicredit Pavilion, writes Michael Bird

March 2009 - From the Print Edition

At the base of a residential block in the architecturally numb heartland of Bucharest’s banking district, a new artistic space has appeared with an exhibition from Sibiu-born artist Lia Perjovschi.
This former bank branch on the capital’s prime real estate could be a cultural thorn in the side of faceless corporate culture, if it was not sponsored by Italy’s Unicredit Bank.
Inside, naked ceilings reveal crumbling concrete and ribbed ventilation tubes, while white rostra are covered with many thrilling images, epigrams and catchphrases from Perjovschi’s scrapbook of emotive words and pictures. Included are Yuri Gagarin, Michael Jackson, Nobel-prize winning micro-lender Muhammad Yunus and Catherine Deneuve, nestling between heroes of resistance against totalitarianism and adverts for Calvin Klein.
Perjovschi’s desire to collect and assemble pictures, diagrams and photos comes from her frustration as an artist in the 1980s, when she was denied foreign travel and access to culture from abroad. “We are creative when we are informed,” she says.
The assemblage moves in a telescopic direction from images of the Milky Way down to the human genome. There are photos of similar artistic spaces such as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Generali Foundation in Vienna and spider diagrams detailing connections between culture, politics and society. The aim was not to create a space for overly conceptual art. “I didn’t want to put a balloon in the centre of a room,” she says, “and say to people: ‘Hey, look at this balloon!’ Because it would just be a balloon.”
Instead it resembles the anatomy of a mind in the process of thinking what to place inside this space, flicking through a rolodex of phrases and images in an attempt to find new links and associations.
Added to this collection is the ubiquitous image of Barack Obama, who has become a new fixture in Perjovschi’s archive. One T-shirt from the US reads ‘Obama is the new black’ and onto another Perjovschi has printed an image of the new US President pointing. “He is saying to people - you are change, but you have to be responsible,” Perjovschi adds. She does not care if some cynics believe it is no longer fashionable to be in the thrall of the new head of state. “It’s the revolution of the 21st century,” she says. “I cried for three days when he was elected.”

Lia Perjovschi
Pavilion Unicredit
1 Sos Nicolae Titulescu, Piata Victoriei
Until 19 April

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