– Autumn/Winter 2011

Lia Perjovschi: Economy and Collection of Care in Transition

Ovidiu Tichindeleanu

Lia Perjovschi, Globes — Endless Collection, 1990— ongoing. Installation view, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2005. Images courtesy the artists and Christine König Galerie, Vienna

Lia Perjovschi, Globes — Endless Collection, 1990— ongoing. Installation view, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2005. Images courtesy the artists and Christine König Galerie, Vienna

Lia Perjovschi tests the framing of objects and subjects: her exhibitions, which usually consist of a collection, or even several collections, utilise her archives as a portable museum. These archives then become the frame of discussions, presentations and performances that focus on entire histories of contemporary art, as well as on experiential histories of contemporary artists. I had two initial, memorable encounters with the Perjovschis, which may shed light on the Romanian context. We met for the first time in 1999 in Cluj, at a public discussion held at the initiative of Lia and her husband, Dan Perjovschi, who on that day came from Bucharest.

The discussion took place at Casa Tranzit, a former synagogue that reopened as a cultural space in 1997. A packed audience surrounded Lia, Dan and their guests: some local anti-communist dissidents, as well as three groups from the independent cultural scene of the city — from the non-commercial art gallery Studio Protokoll, the contemporary art magazine Balkon and the student-run philosophy journal and theatre group Philosophy and Stuff. I was part of the latter. The event was supposed to be an open discussion about contemporary culture and criticism, and thus an opportunity for a group portrait of the cultural field, uniting pre- and post-1989 forms of resistance and criticism. However, that frame could not hold the picture. About midway through the vociferous afternoon, one of the anti-communist dissidents accused the younger participants of being neo-communists and left the room, banging the door behind her. Meanwhile another dissident whispered in my ear that we should keep following

our dreams but tread more carefully. The (biased) way I saw it, the younger groups were defending what

  1. Lia Perjovschi, ‘Endless Collection — Globe (1990 — today)’, IDEA arts + society, no.14, 2003.    

  2. Boris Groys, Logik der Sammlung. Das Ende des musealen Zeitalters, Munich: Carl Hanser, 1997.    

  3. Hal Foster, ‘An Archival Impulse’, October, vol.110, Fall 2004, p.5.    

  4. Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, ‘Innovative Forms of Archives, Part One: Exhibitions, Events, Books,

    Museums, and Lia Perjovschi’s Contemporary Art Archive', e-flux journal, issue 15, 2001. 

  5. See Marius Babias and Sabine Hentzsch (ed.), Lia Perjovschi: Contemporary Art Archive. Center For Art Analysis 1985—2007, Cluj and Cologne: IDEA Design & Print and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2007. 

  6. Enrique Dussel, Twenty Theses on Politics (trans. George Ciccariello-Maher), Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008, p.137. 
  7. Walter D. Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2000, pp.21—22, 114—16. 

  8. H. Foster, ‘An Archival Impulse’, op. cit., pp.3, 5. In this particular article, Foster refers explicitly only to Western artists: ‘the Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn, the American Sam Durant, the English woman Tacita Dean ... the Scotsman Douglas Gordon, the Englishman Liam Gillick, the Irishman Gerard Byrne, the Canadian Stan Douglas, the Frenchmen Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, the Americans Mark Dion and Renée Green’. 

  9. See Stefan Constantinescu’s video installation Archive of Pain (2000), containing filmed interviews with former political prisoners detained in Romania between 1945 and 1965. See also the accompanying book by Lucian Boia, Adrian Cioroianu and Tom Sandqvist, Archive of Pain, Stockholm: Pionir Press, 2000. 

  10. Zdenka Badovinac, ‘Interrupted Histories’, in Z. Badovinac et al. (ed.), Prekinjene zgodovine/ Interrupted Histories, Ljubljana: Museum of Modern Art, 2006. Quoted in N. Petrešin-Bachelez, ‘Innovative Forms of Archives', op. cit. 

  11. L. Perjovschi, conversation with Ekaterina Lazareva, http://www.OpenSpace.ru (last accessed on 12 March 2011). 

  12. Ibid.

  13. See Kristine Stiles (ed.), States of Mind: Dan and Lia Perjovschi, Durham, NC: Duke University Press,


  14. L. Perjovschi in conversation with Ekaterina Lazareva, op. cit.

  15. See John Tagg, The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories, London: Macmillan, 1988, and the more recent J. Tagg, The Disciplinary Frame: Photographic Truths and the Capture of Meaning, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009. 

  16. See Ovidiu T ̨ ichindeleanu, ‘Vampires in the Living Room: A View to What Happened to Eastern Europe after 1989 and Why Real Socialism Still Matters’, in Corinne Kumar (ed.), Asking We Walk: The South as New Political Imaginary, vol.III, Bangalore: Streelekha, 2011. 

  17. M. Babias and S. Hentzsch (ed.), Lia Perjovschi: Contemporary Art Archive, op. cit.