Maja Bajevic, I Did Not Know, 2002, in collaboration with Emanuel Licha, outdoor performance.Exhibition view: Enactments of the Self, Steirischer Herbst, Hauptplatz, Graz, Austria (Curator Maia Damianovic), 2002.Photo documentation: BTA/Nicolas Lackner.


I Did Not Know

The project I Did Not Know explores the situation of a double intrusion: the intrusion of an intimate space into a public one, and the intrusion of the public and political into the private.

The first intrusion is realized through the installation of a cozy living room inside a labyrinth-like glass structure on the main public square of Graz. A couple is living inside the living room. Over one month, 24 hours a day, different couples alternate living in that space. Emanuel Licha and I initiated this presence on the first week, after which we passed the piece over to other couples.

The couple’s vigilance is heightened by the presence of a television broadcasting only sounds of war, without any image, creating thus the second intrusion. These sounds are very violent, difficult to listen to. Outside, in the public space, the sound of a couple quarrelling is heard; one reproaches the other, who answers: “I did not know.” The intonation clearly indicates that this sentence means in fact: “I didn’t want to know and I still don’t.” This voluntary blindness and deafness always remains as the best excuse for our passivity. Passersby can decide to come into the transparent shelter, reinforcing by their action the bridge between the private and public spaces.

This intertwining of a public and private space shows that both spaces are highly porous, and that maintaining major events such as wars within the realm of the unreachable, as inexorable entertainment, calls for passivity; the idea of home as a self-dependant cell, without influence on the outside world, is obsolete.