The bustling location of NewBridge Project Space takes the viewer down a busy street in central Newcastle surrounded by bus stops and cramped paths. City workers, students and mothers with prams squeeze their way through the crowds. Looking out upon this scene, as more time is spent with AV Festival’s Dan Perjovschi, No Graffiti on Barbwire Walls, the more integral it seems to the space.
Not only can the ‘outside audience’ waiting for transport see directly into the gallery space, they can also explore Perjovschi’s felt tip drawings and writings on the windows without having to move at all. Text such as ‘Capitalism’ and ‘So What’s Left?’ as well as satirical drawings of men on horses lost at the prospect of wind turbines, cover the glass surface and transition into the outside landscape, almost like a motion painting for those viewers inside.
On entering the space, a chaotic collage style layering of newspaper pages confront the viewer. These pages reference current events and concerns politics to celebrity, culture and sex. Much more interesting than the stories however, is Perjovschi’s utilisation of humour to illustrate and comment on pages in felt tip pen. An article concerning police dog numbers to be cut back is overlaid with a stick dog accompanied by the text ‘dog life’. Another features a stick man with a speech bubble shouting ‘No worries, I go home after they pay my fee,’ on an article concerning the Syrian refugee crisis. These cynical commentaries on mass media coverage give viewers a voyeuristic thrill, and an insight into artist’s true thoughts in relation to current affairs.
The role of artist and viewer here is blurred, in that as a viewer it is possible to imagine yourself browsing a newspaper with your morning coffee, letting these amusing thoughts run through your mind. This seems to fuse the role of artist and spectator to become a unified commentator on society, and encouraged the audience to think in such a way.
Reflection is simultaneously important here. Drawings are literally reflected in mirrored panels on the building exterior as well, but also the audience is provoked to think about their own satirical commentary on the media’s representation of society in a reflective sense. The reflection and combination of an ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ audience personifies the essence of the AV Festival in its comment on social behaviour and the structure of society, in a very playful and subtle way. In this respect, the physical and social spacing of the exhibition is wholly appropriate. Although the content of Perjovschi’s work is arguably documentation of the media, there is much more depth of meaning to be found. An understated yet powerful social commentary on current affairs, Perjovschi manages to cut through the treacle of the media, and through cynicism and humour, somehow arrives at something close to authenticity.
Dan Perjovschi continues at The Newbridge Project until 27 March 2016. This exhibition is part of a thematic series of exhibitions titled Meanwhile, what about Socialism? and is presented by AV Festival.
Michaela Hall is an artist and writer and at the time of writing, is studying for a BA Hons Fine Art degree at Newcastle University.
Images: Dan Perjovschi, Terrorist Black and White, 2015. Courtesy the artist; Dan Perjovschi, Company Migration, 2008. Courtesy the artist; Dan Perjovschi, i-phone, 2014. Courtesy the artist.