Projects 85: Dan Perjovschi WHAT HAPPENED TO US?
May 2–August 27, 2007
The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, second floor
To stand amidst the chaos and ask why
By Christina Livadiotis
On May 2nd, Dan Perjovschi asks New Yorkers, Americans, and global citizens alike to ask themselves, “WHAT HAPPENED TO US?”. On MoMA’s prestigious 2nd floor Atrium, Perjovschi’s large-scale drawing installation uses simplistic child-like stick-figures to create satirical political scenarios about the state of US, presumably using this double-entendre to indicate both the personal and the national significance of his message. No one seems to be safe from Perjovschi’s political and philosophical wit, as the topics he covers in this installation range from the current conflict in the Middle East, to the recent Virginia Tech shootings and the exploitation of the media, to his thoughts on the extension of the European Union.
Some of the more jarring messages Perjovshci lays out, in my opinion and especially in terms of the average overworked and mal-spiritually-nourished New Yorker, have to do with the loss of a metaphysical self, which Perjovschi describes as dwindling more and more on average as time goes on. What do we value in ourselves and in our society? Ideas or things? People or money? Perjovschi’s installation begs the timeless question: Who are we and why are we here? Were we put on this earth to sit in big sky-scrapers, apartment buildings and cubicles, feverishly typing away to sustain and empower the same institution that keeps us down? (One of the drawings shows all the windows of the skyscraper escaping from the building onto a virile lawn under a resplendent sun until they are all ‘free.’) Another drawing has these following four things/concepts in a series, going from largest to smallest starting with, My house (huge), My car (big), My Credit Card (medium), and My Self (as a tiny almost indiscernible dot). True, we have acquired so much value for physical stuff that there is hardly any room for ourselves anymore. As much as Perjovschi addresses the political and more general societal malaise of our time, I think he is mostly urging us to take personal responsibility for our own lives and selves, if we are even able to lift ourselves out of the thick apathetic lethargy in which we pathetically wade.
For his first solo exhibition in the Unites States, the Romanian artist, who resides and toils in Bucharest, holds nothing back of his feelings and sentiments in this installation, which has transcended the medium of drawing to create a piece that is both performative and extremely provocative. It is rare to be standing in an exhibition space and hear fellow observers reacting out loud; some of them laughing in appreciation, while others scoff in opposition. Either way, Perjovschi had gotten us to consider him, and digest his self-reflective message that both entertains and or jars the viewer, and depending on who you are, possibly forces you to reconsider, at least for just a moment, what the f*ck you are doing with your sad, media-controlled, money grubbing, shallow, lonely and sorry excuse for an existence. Although, with Perjovschi propagating such an adamantly negative stance on materialism and capitalistic values, one may allow himself to contemplate the potential irony of this installation going up in a premier museum in arguably the richest city in this universe. Don’t ever stop questioning.