Dan Perjovschi at Documenta exhibition

Documenta is center of the world’s contemporary art, founded in 1955 in a bid to reclaim Germany’s place as a cultural nation after the Nazi persecution of the artistic avant-garde. Along with the Venice Biennale, Documenta is today a top-magnitude meeting place for contemporary art.

Cartoonist Dan Perjovschi is only Romanian artist invited to exhibit until September 25 in Kassel – Germany at the Documenta contemporary art exhibition.Dan Perjovschi is one of over 1,500 artists exhibiting at the prestigious Documenta international art show organized every five years in Kassel and which is expected to attract this year at least one million visitors.

In Kassel, Perjovschi’s „Horizontal Daily” is sprawled on the pavement, in front of the city’s main station, whereas in Sibiu the texts and drawings of the „gazette” are displayed on the outer side of the 30-metre long and 4-metre high courtyard wall of the „Radu Stanca” National Theater located on one of the city’s main boulevards – Corneliu Coposu.

Perjovschi’s editorials in Sibiu each have a matching item posted by the artist in Germany.

„This year everything is more complex, a bit deeper, it’s about regeneration, about transparency, sustainability. These are the themes of the grand exhibition Documenta I participate in. Just like here, I draw cartoons, but there they are literally horizontal, on the pavement, and the drawings stand in cross-correspondence with those in Sibiu, they are intertwined as I follow these very beautiful and very topical concept lines. They speak about our planet, our society, about collectivity, but not in a collectivist sense. Regrettably, war is also a headline subject these days. So yes, this is a very beautiful platform that keeps happenings on this planet in a balance and features these extremely important themes. (…) We must all do something about this. Many poor countries are rationing water. I’ve just heard it in the news that people are allowed to wash their hair only once, a small thing, but it shows that we’ve hit a wall, not the ‘Horizontal Wall’, but we all need to find a solution. So this will be on display here, in Sibiu, plus an entire segment with Ukraine and this doom and gloom which I personally would have sworn that it couldn’t possibly happen”, said Dan Perjovschi.

He confesses that he has Russian artist friends who criticized Putin’s regime and yet are no longer invited anywhere amid the war in Ukraine.

„I have artist friends in Kyiv – Ukraine, but also in St. Petersburg – Russia and it’s a big problem for Russia. You can figure it out, for a generation or two, no one will invite them anywhere anymore and they are artists like me, who were critical of the regime, but now the focus is on my Ukrainian friends,” said Perjovschi, who points out that he is proud of the extraordinary response of the Romanian people to the drama of the refugees.

He explains that the reason why in Kassel his works are showcased on the pavement is „because displaying on public space there is a bit more complicated.

Speaking of why he is the only Romanian artist invited to Documenta this year, the cartoonist says that „one of the themes of this huge festival is humor – for one. Secondly, they look for artists who create communities, collectives – I’m not in this category – but I was part of all sorts of movements, I have contributed drawings for years. I even called myself a ‘drawing provider’ – you needed a drawing for a protest or a T-shirt, I was there to make it for you. For instance for the Red Cross, for those who built a hospital in Bucharest or for the Herculane project. So I did as much as I could in this social area and this activity was acknowledged at a certain point. That’s why I’m featured there, also because I’m not just an artist, that’s the truth. In Indonesia, where this entire idea came from, they have this approach because they cannot make a living from art alone and therefore they have communities that produce T-shirts, workshops and activities for children, education, so they are always dabbling into something else than just the art museum. And that’s also my thing, ever since my engagement with the press, with society.”

In his drawings in Kassel and Sibiu, Perjovschi expresses his thoughts on culture, politics and society.

With a part of his Documenta budget the artist has funded the contemporary art exhibitions that go along with the Sibiu International Theater Festival in various locations such as the mall or the Zoo, as well as a visual arts platform that accompanies FITS, now in a first edition. The New York Times also wrote about his project in Kassel, presenting it and illustrating it with a photo that shows the columns of the city’s main art museum, „Fridericianum”, wrapped with the works of the Romanian artist.

Perjovschi has been drawing the public art project „Horizontal Daily” in his hometown of Sibiu since 2010. In 2016 he received the Rosa Schapire Art Prize, in 2012 the Princess Margriet Prize of the European Cultural Foundation (together with wife Lia Perjovschi) and in 2004 he was awarded the George Maciunas Prize.

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