Lia Perjovschi, Knowledge Museum, 1999 – present. Courtesy of the artist
A little bit of history repeating
catalogue essay for Lia Perjovschi’s solo exhibition “Chronology”
Yujiro Gallery, London
Lia Perjovschi delivers history free of charge. The pay off is her own freedom. The freedom to explore, obscure or confront physical and mental frontiers that divide the knowledge from non-sense, the privilege from the ordinary, the archive from oblivion. The freedom to reshape the space and time into random forms: a street in Bucharest, a newspaper, a railway station in Zilina, a meeting, a twenty year project, a black hole, a revolution, a collection. She produces one space of possibility after another, relentlessly destroying the void around her, unclear but real. The same as history before being written.
Nevertheless, freedom is not taken for granted. Lia experienced the communism, the censorship, the fear, and all these affected her practice to a certain degree. She started to take possession of anything that was not reachable by re-creating it: art languages and works, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary references, major symbols and ideologies. Documentation, appropriation and taxonomy have become her modes of survival and positioning into a void and ‘non-representable’ space, veiled by communism and neglected by the dominant political and cultural order. The crucial issue Lia addresses is who enters into the archive of history? What happens with the undefinable narratives and tangible people that live between the ‘image’ or the ‘spectacle’ and its reception, between the audience and the stage? Consequently, it is not an accident that her notes and diagrams look like a field of forces occupying decisively the white territory of the sheet of paper. The drawing behaves as a free-form, anti-form, iconoclast and inclusive strategy aiming to connect various places and ‘sub-places’ of history within an ever growing web of non-linear and non-hierarchical exchanges.
The ‘Chronologies’, however, do not answer the above questions. On the contrary, they leave the issue unresolved, but hanging in the air, rather calling for a counterfactual ‘what if?’ than for an astounding key. As we know, history does not produce solutions, but repetitions; it is not a classified case, but incoherent, fragmented, unfinished, constantly under investigation and will always remain so. It is this constitutive contingency of history that makes possible Lia Perjovschi’s re-search of identity, memory and permeability, as a mode of articulation between individual and collective forms of action, perception and thought. The loose, mobile and subjective nature of her archive reflects clearly the tension between life and documentation, a tension wrapped up in the very word ‘archive’ as a-project-in-process. Lia’s own life is a life-in-the-project, with each layer – vertically, horizontally or circularly arranged – generating a new one. Using the cumulative potential of the aesthetics of daily life as part of a larger ontology, she replaces the theory of self-representation with the theory of knowledge dissemination, by mapping universal concerns such as time, place, geopolitics, resistance, ethics, idealism, authority, hierarchy. And if someone asks what is the ultimate sense of this chaotic flow, he or she might get an old yet still actual response: just a little bit of history repeating.