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   14 january 2015

   Oana Ciuca

Dan Perjovschi: “Be intelligent! Follow culture in its essence, not at the surface level”

This last summer, it had been established. Once it’s autumn, I should grab the phone and establish an interview. I had thought it fit very well with the launch of the magazine, of which I had talked even then. So that one day I called Dan Perjovschi. Only that it was not the right time.

He was just preparing to leave to another country for the following week, but, starting with the 20th of September, I would certainly find him in Sibiu, he told me. Said and done! The call was made, the interview established, the meeting took place in front of “Perjovschi’s Wall”. From afar, you could say he was a foreign tourist: beard, cap, a waistcoat with more pockets, and he was carrying a big backpack. “Are you in a big hurry?”, he asks. I said no. “Then I’ll go quickly to bring the ladder, so I’ll put a couple more drawings on the wall. (he laughs). We’ll update it, since the elections are knocking at the door. And this one is for Turcescu. All right, now we’re up to date.”

Last summer also, even now, it seems as if it were the same notebook where the drawings were jotted down. An elegant lady was standing a few steps away from me. I was taking photos and had received the task of taking care of the backpack. Eventually, she went and asked him of what he was doing over there. She was not Romanian, but said she was very interested in that subject. In the bus station, which is two feet away from the wall, people glanced curiously. I was feeling like a part of the team.

Mission accomplished. On our way to the city centre, we could see the billboards from “Architecture Days”. I had no idea why he was studying the images so carefully, and I was telling myself: “Well of course. They are all connected, we’re talking about visual art, aren’t we?”. Then I’m hearing: “Look, I found it. This is our home in Sibiu. This is how it looks like. Oh well, it is actually smaller, the photographer made it look so spacious.” Afterwards, the story about the cultural Sibiu started, about the wall near the theatre, about art and artists.

Reporter: Do you add a new drawing on the wall every time you come to Sibiu?

Dan Perjovschi: I come here every once in a while and I add some elements. I think the last ones I made were in the summer, during the Football Championship. The idea of this year’s wall is to come back and cover the drawings that are old and put new ones on top of them, the new histories. What people see in Sibiu is one part of the wall, the other part travels the world with Gianina Cărbunariu’s show – Solitaritate. We went together at the Avignon Festival, we made a sort of a mobile wall there too, and we will also participate at the National Theatre in Bruxelles. Over there, I will be working a little differently, I will be working in mass-media, and I will be making a wall out of newspapers. And there are other journeys to come, with this other half of the wall. I am not aware of how much is known about Gianina Cărbunariu’s show in Romania, but it is very, very successful abroad.

Rep.: What is it that you don’t like in this world of art, in which you are quite famous?

D.P.: What I don’t like at this world in which I keep revolving, is that there is a market breakdown. And this fact reverberates here also. What does the Romanian people know about The Wisdom of the Earth of Brâncuşi? That it is evaluated at 20 million euro, period. That’s all. So the talk is only about the money. This happens in general, and in my opinion, it is revolting.

How did we make art in the past, before all these sponsors existed?

There’s another phenomenon. How did we make art in the past, before all these sponsors existed? If you look at a poster, half of it is filled with sponsors’ names. How did we manage to do it until 15 years ago, when they did not exist?! What happened that we do not have money for art anymore? I have to say one thing that will irritate a whole lot of people from this moral-liberal world. The communist society used culture. For example, in Sibiu, culture is displayed in the central squares of the city, and well, this does not happen in other cities. You find culture on the outskirts of the city. You find it in the city centre only if it’s enjoyable. Even then, it is not found inside, but on the buildings, and if people applaud it’s even better.

The art scenes are transformed in art markets

This is yet again a general problem worldwide, with the transformation of the art scenes in art markets, and in Romania this kitsch is almost unsettling, the interference of money with the production itself. If you look carefully at the type of funding, the ones coming from the state have limited, and the private ones have become prevalent. The political elite and the rich boys should understand one thing: life around us will be better if I, as a creator, am free. It is that simple. I cannot complain right now, because more than three quarters of my activity takes place in the West, on scenes that are well-established, that do not have problems. But I am annoyed that in Romania there are a lot of talents and extraordinary people who do not have a context in which they can develop. It is the state and the cultural policies of the state that must create these conditions. The artist is an expert in content. Look here, in Sibiu they have awakened, they are using a warehouse for theatre performances, in Cluj they are using a brush factory. This is what we need. If we don’t have the money, then let’s use the human resources that we have. You don’t necessarily get to have people who are more talented than elsewhere, but they are much more available. Right now, the greatest national effort is to host four football matches, not four important exhibitions. I am glad for some people’s passions, but there are other passions too, I beg your pardon!

Rep.: Even though you could live in any other city in the world, you get back to Sibiu every chance you get. Why is that?

D.P.: What I like about Sibiu is that it is still an active city. I feel sorry, for example, that I could not get to the International Poetry Festival, where a lot of famous names have come to attend from all over the world. Do you realise it? They were here. The people in Sibiu should know they have a big advantage. They get the chance to meet the live creators here, not in the textbooks. This is what is so extraordinary at Sibiu, that there is something happening all the time. In other cities nothing happens, not even bank robberies. But my wife and I, we did not relocate at Sibiu for the culture, because we have the possibility to access it at a high level abroad. We moved here for the bicycle rides, for Dumbrava Sibiului, for Ocna Sibiului, for Păltiniş, for this intimately humane life that we find here, where one as a human can mentally control the city, because you can walk it up and down at a foot’s pace. And people here should not expect that everyone heard about Sibiu, a beautiful city, former capital of culture. No. Because, just as we are not interested in which city was designated cultural capital last year, or two years ago, so it happens everywhere. Only those people who came by and who were impressed by something will talk about Sibiu. It should be known that a city acquires recognition through people, not through advertisements. Every year, Sibiu manages to multiply its attainments and this makes it visible.

Rep.: Do you have any thoughts for our magazine Capital Cultural?

D.P.: Yes. Be intelligent! Follow culture in its essence, not at the surface level. Culture is something that is alive, it is something that is made, that can make a mistake, that can fail. People criticize what they see depending on what they have already seen. And every new book that you will read, every new exhibition or theatre play that you see, it complicates the context of the following cultural event you’ll witness. It does not necessarily clarify it for you, it only makes it more complex in your eyes. Like so, all the receiving ability that you have now may change in a year. It depends on what kind of events you are exposed to.

Dan Perjovschi was born in 1961, in Sibiu. He is a visual artist, who lives and works in Bucharest and Sibiu. His works of art represent a combination of cartoons, raw art and graffiti, and is temporarily exhibited on the walls of museums or other contemporary spaces around the world.

article provided by capitalcultural.ro

      © Dan Perjovschi