Lia Perjovschi’s practice is shaped by her curiosity about the cultural, social and political context in which she lives – a context that, like her art, has changed dramatically over the past four decades. If early performances such as Proba somnului [The Test of Sleep] (1988) denounced the strains that Ceauşescu’s dictatorship placed upon the bodies and minds of her fellow Romanians, Lupt pentru dreptul meu de a fi diferita [I’m Fighting for My Right to Be Different] (1993) evidenced her struggle to assert her identity in the midst of a newly found political freedom and increasingly pervasive consumerist imperatives.
Eager to fill the knowledge gaps carved out by years of isolation and censorship, in the late 1980s and 90s Perjovschi collected publications and ephemera on recent international art and organised gatherings with other artists and intellectuals at her studio in Bucharest. Initially titled Contemporary Art Archive, she renamed this project-cum-institution Contemporary Art Analysis in 1999, aware that the knowledge economy of the new millennium begged less for access to information than for interpretation thereof. The subjective nature of her archive has come to the fore in her Timelines (My Subjective Art History from Modernism till Today) (1990–2004) and Mind Maps/Diagrams (1999–ongoing), compositions of handwritten notes and images sourced from books or the internet, which chart her understanding not only of recent art but also of more general culture, science and politics – an interdisciplinary research that she conceives as an imaginary Knowledge Museum. Titles such as General Timeline 1: From Dinosaurs to Google Going China (1997–2006) are indicative of her quixotic desire to know, while the diagrams The Rich People of the World and Top Art Collectors (both 2009 and both only depicting men) reveal her political standpoint.
A Research, the mind map on display at the 31st Bienal, offers up a freeze-frame of her research on the context and history of the Bienal from her studio in Sibiu, Romania – a partial and subjective view of here from there. – HV