(Self-)Tracking Shot. Film and Video in the Visual Arts in Bulgaria.

by Krassimir Terziev

I read somewhere a statement by Bulgarian gallerist Georgi Kolev saying that the beginning of video art in Bulgaria was a video recording of one of the first mass protests in Bulgaria on 14 December 1989 in front of Parliament done by Film Director Evgeniy Mihaylov where the prime minister at the time Petar Mladenov (Bulgarian Communist Party) uttered the shocking words „bring in the tanks“[1]. I don’t know why this view stuck in my head for a long time. Clearly a report recording cannot be a work of art, it was never viewed as such either. But let’s imagine I’m deprived of common sense and I go with the opinion that’s stuck in my head. No one ever found out whether those words really were said by Peter Mladenov. The sound on the recording was badly smeared by the surrounding noise and no expert analysis managed to make up for the poor quality. Here’s a first similarity with video art in Bulgaria, at least in the period running up to 1995. Notwithstanding the questionable character of this piece of evidence, the words stayed and repeated in and out of context. The video created a myth stimulating the imagination. And since the present text is an attempt at an overview of the development of video art in Bulgaria, this may turn out to be the necessary myth of origin.

***

In the late 1980s the media of video entered the field of new Bulgarian art as a means of documenting performances, happenings and actions. Many artists and groups such as Orlin Dvoryanov, Dimitar Grozdanov, Georgi Todorov, and Daniela Nenova used video as an especially efficient means of recording otherwise ephemeral events taking place outside the institutional context of the time. In 1992 Ventsislav Zankov presented recordings of his ritual performances as part of his Limits of Agony II show (Union of Bulgarian Artists, 6 Shipka Str.). These first video documents, done mostly in the VHS analogue consumer video format, shot and edited impromptu, bear a special aura of an authentic mark of a time long gone. These are recordings where moving image still haven’t become an autonomous language and a medium. One of the first uses of video as part of large multimedia installations was in Nedko Solakov’s project The Adventures of Francois du Bergeron (Institut Français, Sofia, 1993). The integration of video components in an assemblage of multiple different media such as drawing, painting, text, documents, objects etc. became a recognisable personal style in many of Solakov’s subsequent emblematic total installations: Dreams (Night) at Aperto’93 of the Venice biennale, Superstitious Man at the Contemporary Art Museum (Skopje, 1994); Mr. Curator, please… at Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin, 1995).

***

In the 1990s The Soros Centre for the Arts in Sofia with its activity was especially instrumental to the development of Bulgarian contemporary art, including video art. The first serious forum dedicated to video art was precisely the centre’s second annual exhibition in 1995 called Video-Hart curated by Kamen Balkanski. The exhibition presented artworks, most of them done specially for the project, by authors such as Luchezar Boyadjiev, Kosyo Minchev, Nedko Solakov, Georgi Tushev, Ventsislav Zankov. The impressive space of the Archaeological Museum in Sofia and the centre’s professional support in the production and presentation of the works were important factors in the appearance of the first serious examples of large-scale video installations, sculptures and assemblages. Ventsislav Zankov showed The Last Supper, a 13-channel video installation where a TV show host has 13 incarnations, each of them entering in cryptic dialogue with the others, inaccessible to the audience. Kosyo Minchev made the large installation Police – a manipulated police car with two TV monitors installed in the headlights showing synchronised mirror images. In Up and Down, Back and Forth Luchezar Boyadjiev used a sophisticated postproduction technique to turn the image of the dictator from Chaplin’s classical film The Great Dictator into an anonymous white silhouette which the viewer can impersonate if they wish. In Untitled (familiarisation) Nedko Solakov directed an ironic ritual in-situ in front of one of the museum exhibits – a Thracian horseman from the 3rd century B.C. As part of the exposition’s accompanying program Iliana Nedkova curated a series of workshops and presentations which influenced the development of video in contemporary art in the following years. Eddie Berg of FACT, Liverpool; John Weaver of Video Umbrella/Channel 4, London; and Hugo van Falkenburg of P.A.R.K.4DTV curated programs with screenings and presentations.  P.A.R.K.4DTV were invited to do a workshop for young artists led by Rene Beekman and Maarten Spenger at the National academy of Theatre and Film Art and the projects produced were broadcast by the Amsterdam experimental video art channel. Iliana Nedkova continued her activity aimed at developing media art in Bulgaria by organising the Crossing Over I and II workshops in the next two years where she invited established curators, artists and theoreticians who presented current issues and debates in the field of electronic media art and engaged in dialogue with the work of young Bulgarian artists. Thanks to her cooperation as a curator Luchezar Boyadjiev took part in the Video Positiv Revolutions festival in 1997 in Manchester and Liverpool with a large-scale interactive installation entitled Revolution for All and Krassimir Terziev’s video Library Paranoia was featured in the screenings program. The same year the Videoostranenie festival in Dessau featured media works by Petko Durmana, Krassimir Terziev and Odilia Yankova..

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It has been said many times that video art (as well as contemporary art generally) appeared too late in Bulgaria. At first glance it’s hard to disagree. Myth has it that Nam June Paik did his first video work back in 1965, whereas the first forms of use of video by artists in Bulgaria were only registered in the early 1990s. Yet fundamentally this is an ungrounded and manipulative statement, reducing history to a linear curve. It’s like saying Christianity came late to Bulgaria – only in 864 AD. After decades of state monopoly on television and radio (two television channels and three national radio channels), in 1990 we witnessed an inundation of cable operators broadcasting, with or without license, all sorts of spam. 24-hour porn, martial arts films dating back two decades, action films and Latin American soap operas from the same period. A chaotic mix reaching unexpected heights with the apex of TV magic – the psychic healer Kashpirovski[2], who would heal the entire nation live on air. This was the environment in which video found the popular context from which to move as an art medium.

***

Many circumstances coincided in 1995, making it a very productive year, resulting in an entire series of video works and in the short period afterwards by the end of the decade there was a rapid development of various genres, formats and approaches as well as the defining of clear stances by authors working with video. Nedko Solakov presented his first autonomous video Some of My Capabilities and Rassim (Krassimir Krastev) presented a series of single-shot works: Self-portrait with a Cigarette, Drug.

RASSIM® Krassimir Krastev

Drug, 1995.

Video Art

Details

  • Photographer: Danail Valkovski

These are examples in the field of the classical single-shot aesthetics where the private event unfolding in front of the lens acquires value in its translation to the public space in the moment of its screening. That was followed by a series of works relying heavily on editing: The Museum – Cause of Meeting and Acquaintance (1997) by Kalin Serapionov; Library Paranoia (1996) by Krassimir Terziev; Escaping Identity (1997) by Ventsislav Zankov; Reality Show (1998) by Huben Cherkelov, Celebrating the Next Twinkling (1999) by Boryana Rossa. The works by Serapionov, Terziev and Cherkelov borrow from the language of film – they are all constructed based on a narrative where the protagonists find themselves in unexpected circumstances. Serapionov follows two strangers walking through the National Gallery in Sofia only to bring them together in sexual intercourse in the museum bathrooms. Cherkelov directed himself imitating a night TV reality show. Terziev draws his protagonist into an imaginary action-movie in a public library. While in the works of Serapionov and Cherkelov the sound is an added electronic music which emotionally emphasises the narrative, in the work of Terziev sound is an active dramaturgical element – the collage of action film sound tracks collides with the image where the enemy never appears. Unlike the three artists discussed above, Zankov and Rossa rely heavily on postproduction. Thanks to the technique of video-morphing[3], very trendy at the time, Zankov performed a hybrid translation between photography and moving image where the author’s face mutated through the different photographic portraits from personal documents, whereas Boryana Rossa used a scratching technique used in the club techno-culture of VJ/DJ sets to turn the faces of two young girls into grotesque and hysterical personas staring somewhere off-frame. Ventsislav Zankov continued his exploration into the video sculpture format with the 4-channel installation Reconstruction of Homo Sapiens: XX Century (1997). Kalin Serapionov experimented with spatial montage, dividing the screen into nine windows where nine scenes are synchronised in the large-scale projection of Warm Soup and My Home Community (1998). A similar technique was used by Krassimir Terziev in A Gallery of Isolated Protagonists (1999), using white shirts as a surface for projection. This was also the time when the first exhibitions, consisting entirely of video were presented: namely Kalin Serapionov’s exhibition Video Works at Ata-ray gallery (1997), showing three new works by the author; and Multiplе Shadows by Krassimir Terziev at the ATA centre for contemporary art (1998), where the gallery’s three rooms were turned into media chambers  through closed-circuit[4] broadcasting and retransmission.

***

The growing interest in and popularity of video art during the second half of the 1990s led to the appearance of a rich ecosystem of platforms, forums, festivals, exhibitions and events. Gallery spaces appeared which welcomed the new media such as Raymonda Moudova’s the Ata-ray Gallery and ATA centre for contemporary art in Sofia, the Banya Starinna contemporary art centre in Plovdiv, led by Emil Mirazchiev, Dimitrina Sevova’s briefly existing Ted gallery in Varna. In 1995 the Institute of Contemporary Art was established playing a key role in the development of Bulgarian contemporary art, including media art. The annual Contemporary Art Week at the Banya Starinna Centre for Contemporary Art in Plovdiv began in 1995 and video was well represented there. In 1998 the centre organised the exhibition Videoart curated by Emil Mirazchiev, Monika Romenska and Nadya Genova, featuring more than 30 authors. In the same year the Interspace Media Art Centre was established by Petko Durmana, Ventsislav Zankov and Krassimir Terziev and organised an accompanying video art program at the International Youth Film Festival with guest programs by The Kitchen, New York and Montevideo, Amsterdam. The following year Interspace organised the Project End media art forum. The videoarchaeology festival was established in 1999, curated by Zhivka Valyavicharska and Boris Kostadinov and it had three annual editions until 2001. The same year the Institute for Contemporary Art showed the block-buster exhibition Localy Interested at the Foreign Art Gallery curated by Iara Boubnova which brought to Sofia superstar-artists like Pipilotti Rist, Douglas Gordon, Peter Kogler. The international art and technology festival Communications Front also started in 1999. curated by Dimitrina Sevova, Iliana Nedkova and Emil Mirazchiev and it had two more editions in 2000 and 2001 bringing together some of the most active artists and initiatives in the field of new media at the time from all over Europe.

***

The idea that video came late to Bulgaria usually goes with the idea that processes in video art in our homeland during the last few decades of its existence are of a secondary character, that they copy models produced elsewhere. Actually if we try to take a closer look at moving image art after the second half of the 1990s, we would register that artists working with video show a pretty adequate reflection, innovative and original approaches and intuition about ongoing processes, both in terms of technology and ideas. Unlike the previous period, the works are characterised by a sensibility to current historical processes and an engagement with the turbulent transformations in the social fabric of early globalisation. Technologically, at the end of the 1990s, a process of convergence in imaging technology took place - the film strip was gradually replaced by digital video formats and computer post-production. At the end of the decade, DVD distribution replaced VHS video cassettes. Watching films at home brought cinema and television closer together. The making-of[5] genre appeared. Independent cinema became very attractive, and documentary cinema attained distribution comparable to that of fiction films. Television became a major agent of the globalization process that intensified in the 1990s. If one day we are fortunate to have a national video art archive and we can trace the output of the last two decades, we would realize that in a very short time this form of art positioned itself in the centre stage, and, being a time-based media, breathed with the Zeitgeist.

***

During the first decade of the new century, interest in video and new media in the country reached its climax. The artists, who had chosen to focus their practice on video, developed their individual approaches to the medium, with which they became recognisable with their work on the moving image internationally. Daniela Kostova did her video Frame in 2000, in which she reflects on the inherent quality of the video image - resolution and its inherent aspect ration, reversing the places of the visible and invisible space. The centre field of the screen is occupied by a 16:9 black rectangle under and above which a 4:3 video image is inserted. The scenario is a guided tourist tour of Sofia. The viewer sees only fragments of the places the guide talks about and their reconstruction is left to the play of imagination between the heard and the (un)seen. The same year Ivan Moudov did One Hour Priority – a video which again offered a choreography of urban space. A static camera in a car registers an endless loop in a roundabout which, in abiding by all traffic rules, does still cause a short-circuit in the regulation of traffic.

Ivan Mudov

One Hour Priority, 2000.

Video

Details


On the BG Track,03 (2002) by Krassimir Terziev compares the urban spaces of Sofia with Hollywood film dialogues which portray Bulgarians and all things Bulgarian between the cliché and the unacceptable reality. The mediator between the two types of space is a protagonist wearing a white t-shirt with a frame of the next film printed on it. A number of artists developed an affinity to 2-channel synchronised video projection, used both to build a three-dimensional physical space while keeping the impermeability of film through the directed beam of light. Kalin Serapionov’s two-channel video installation Unrendered from 2001 is an observation of a specific urban space – the airport in Zurich and, like Daniela Kostova, it relies on the interplay between cinematographic space in-and-off-frame.

Kalin Serapionov

Unrendered, 2001.

Video installation

Details

  • Photographer: Bernd Bodtländer
  • Material: two-channel video installation, DVD, Pal, 4:3, sound, 18'16'' (loop); 2 video projectors, 2 DVD players, audio system, synchronisation
  • Sizes: dimension variable

  • Description: Installation view Manifesta 4, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/Main 2002

The camera follows those waiting at the arrivals-gate at the airport whose gazes are always focused somewhere off-frame, turning the presence of each character into an absence. In Wet Contact (2002) Nina Kovacheva and Valentin Stefanov, who focused on video at the time, made the shot-countershot editing technique a structuring principle of their double self-portrait. Each of the two, framed en face, takes a splash of water in portions. A Movie (2004) by Krassimir Terziev was the product of a day of shooting at the Boyana film studios where the main components of the genre of historical film drama – sets, costumes, extras are used as ready-mades. A group of 50 extras in period costumes from the film centre’s collection stand for hours waiting for the “action” signal at a deteriorating film set.

***

In 2000 Oleg Mavromatti, a Russian artist and experimental film director, came to Bulgaria and settled. Throughout the decade he worked in Bulgaria in a genre largely untouched by Bulgarian artists – experimental film, using the means of expressive performativity in some ways akin to those of fiction film. This applies to Mavromatti’s films Bastards (2000); The World’s biggest Meatball (2001); Rats Abandoning Ship (2003). In his work Mavromatti persistently focuses on fusing together the physical, radical and experience-intensive performances and actions he does on his own or in collaboration with Boryana Rossa and the Ultrafuturo group and the expressive experimental cinema of flesh, blood, action and conflict. Stefan Nikolaev and Egin Cavusoglu – two Bulgarian artists who left the country in the 1990s, the former settling in Paris and the latter in London, are also drawn to the border zone between fiction film and experimental video. The Screensaver /The Hard Disk / The Disk (2003) by Stefan Nikolaev is a hypnotic surrealistic scene where a midget, remote control in hand, raps Bulgarian covers of international hits while trying to balance in a richly decorated interior not subject to gravity. Sickiss (2006) is similarly hypnotic. It is a video, part of a long series of works by Nikolaev reflecting on the culture of smoking far beyond the seemingly simple nature of the phenomenon. In his multichannel video installations Ergin Cavusoglu uses sophisticated cinema techniques as a basis for his metaphoric and multi-layered scripts on emigration, transit spaces and unexpected cultural translations of the global present. Entanglement (2003) is a six-channel video installation focusing on the presence of police helicopters, guarding London’s urban spaces from above.

Ergin Cavusoglu

Point of Departure, 2006.

Video installation

Details

  • Photographer: Marc Doradzillo
  • Material: Six channel video installation, three channel audio. Duration: 31:36 min
  • Sizes: Dimensions variable

  • Property of: Marc Doradzillo
  • Description: Installation view Kunstverein Freiburg, 2008
  • Copyright: Courtesy the artist, Film and Video umbrella and Büro Sarıgedik, Istanbul
  • References: Film and Video Umbrella, London

The 4-channel installation Downward Straits (2004) brilliantly shows the Bosphorus theatre where the main protagonists are the dark silhouettes of the passing giant commercial ships. Another example of an isolated genre form, unpopular on the Bulgarian art scene, is Jelko Terziev’s 3D modelling and animation work entitled 5/5 (2005), where news of a tragic incident from printed media leads to the meticulous visualisation of the event in an imaginary synthetic 3D space where every object in the world should be created from scratch.

Ergin Cavusoglu

Downward Straits, 2004.

Video installation

Details

  • Photographer: Ergin Cavusoglu
  • Material: Four screen video installation, four channel sound Duration: approximately 3 min video, and 13:25 min audio, continuous loop
  • Sizes: Dimensions variable

  • Property of: Ergin Cavusoglu
  • Description: Installation view ICA, London, 2004
  • Copyright: Courtesy the artist and Büro Sarıgedik, Istanbul
  • References: The Goetz Collection
    Banu - Hakan Çarmıklı Collection
    Collection Pinault
    Kutlug Ataman Collection

***

During the early 2000’s Bulgarian artists demonstrated an intensified interest in the possibilities documentary narrative offer for capturing the radical changes in the social fabric of the local version of transition period and the pressures of globalisation. Of course, we’re not talking about classical documentary formats but rather a hybrid types of docu-fiction which was gaining popularity internationally at the time. For four years Adelina Popnedeleva would regularly meet the protagonist of Fresh (2005-2009) and these encounters became the basis for a series of documentary stories in which she builds up the quintessential protagonist of the transition period – a greedy, ruthless, disinterested egomaniac – some of the parameters of the thug style in Bulgarian culture.

Adelina Popndeleva

Fresh, 2005.

Video installation

Details

  • Photographer: Adelina Popndeleva
  • Material: DV, PAL, 30' 8'' за целия филм

  • Property of: едно копие Ирина Баткова; второ копие СГХГ
  • Description: Видео инсталацията "Fresh"се състои от 4 филма с общо времетраене 30 минути и 8 секунди.Снимана е в реално време между 2005 и 2009 година. Първата част е снимана през 2005 година ( 6' 04''), втората 5 месеца по -късно (4'14''); третата- три години по- късно (8'33'') и четвъртата през 2009 година (10'51''). Героят е истински , т.е. автентичен и според мен изразява времето и ценностите на поколението си.
  • Copyright: Тиражът , който е обявен е 5 копия.

Boriana Ventsislavova systematically drew upon the possibilities opened up through composing individual interviews or performative actions in front of a camera to accumulate communities of individual opinions, attitudes and presences in a series of works: Self Acting (2012); That Thing (2014); We’re Part of a Collection (2017), or collective over-identifications such as in the video High Blue Mountains (2009), or in the multichannel video installation We Shall Overswim (2008). In her documentary film Body without Organs (2006) Daniela Kostova traces the translations of Bulgarian chalga culture in the trendy ethno-punk culture which developed in the then-hyped Bulgarian Bar in New York. Nadezhda Lyahova systematically documents then exquisitely dramatises the atomisation, decay and the rapid changes in the structure of post-socialist cities in her short video Moderate Optimism (2008) as well as in her large-scale installation Globally and on a Long-term Basis the Situation is Positive (2009). In his documentary film The Battles of Troy (2005) and the multimedia installation Background Action (2007-08) Krassimir Terziev follows a group of 300 Bulgarians, hired to play the battles in the epochal Hollywood blockbuster Troy as “specialised extras”, through their journey into the world of cinema (and Mexico, where the massive scenes were shot for a period of three months).

***

The clarification of the various artists positions went hand in hand with the densification and diversification of the landscape of the Bulgarian art scene. In 2002 Interspace presented the M.A.P: case study.02. exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery, featuring 10 media projects produced by the centre in an annual period. In 2005 the x-film international festival for cinema, video, and new media was established by Rene Beekman and Krassimir Terziev. In 2006  Adelina Popnedeleva initiated a retrospective programme under the title 10 Years of Video Art in Bulgaria curated by Ventsislav Zankov, Nadezhda Oleg-Lyahova and Popnedeleva. Between 2004 and 2006 American curator Hamza Walker developed his large-scale survey New Video. New Europe, exploring the development of video art in Eastern  Europe. The selection which toured museums such as The Renaissance Society, Chicago; Tate Modern, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; The Kitchen, New York etc. for two years included a work by Krassimir Terziev and in 2009 the exhibition Sounds & Visions. Artists' Films and Videos from Europe. The Last Decade at the contemporary art museum in Tel Aviv curated by Maria Rosa Zosai and Angelo Gio featured a work by Kalin Serapionov. Nedko Solakov took part in a long series of consecutive editions of the Venice biennale (the 49th edition curated by Harald Seeman in 2001; the 50th edition curated by M. Nesbit, H.W. Orbist and R. Tiravanija in 2003; the 52th edition curated by Robert Store in 2007) and Documenta (D12 curated by Roger Burgel and Rut Novak in 2007 and D13 curated by Caroline Hristov-Bakardzhiev in 2012) where, sticking to his recognisable and well-established style, he included video as part of the complex narratives in his multimedia installations. For D12 he produced a short video to clear the context of his Top Secret work presented. At D13 Solakov presented the large scale multiple rooms installation Knights (and other dreams) (2010–2012)  in which childhood dreams mix with staged events and fictive stories in a complex fabric of objects, texts, drawings and videos. The same approach has been applied to the series of the artist’s major retrospective shows All in Order, with Exceptions at the Icon Gallery in Birmingham; the Civica Foundation Gallery in Trento; the S.M.A.K. museum in Ghent; the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum in Porto; as well as Solakov’s numerous large-scale installations in prestigious museums around the world. In 2011 the unlimited/Mtel annual awards for contemporary Bulgarian art was dedicated to video art entirely. The award went to In Defence of Lunar Meliorations (2011) by Tsvetan Krastev, an author with a clearly defined individual approach to video. The other national awards for contemporary art in the country - The Gaudenz B. Ruf Awards from 2007 until 2011 was granted annually to one young and one advanced artist within the framework of a competition and a large scale exhibition of the nominated artists where many of the projects feature in this text found their place. Since 2008 the Videoholica association has been organising an annual international video festival by the same name led by Pavlina Mladenova and Neno Belchev. In 2008 the National Art Academy in Sofia started an MA program in digital art which still is the only specialised discipline in the field. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall in 2009-2010 Interspace organised the international video art archive Transitland, a collection of 100 single channel video works from Central and Eastern Europe dating between 1989 and 2009 and reflecting on the transformations of post-socialist reality as a result of the fall of the wall. For two years the selection toured all of Europe in a series of exhibitions and screening programs including the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Transmediale festival in Berlin, the Ludwig Museum in Budapest and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. In 2012 the three centres in the Goethe Institut network in Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey initiated the collaborative project ArtUp which included an online media art archive in the three neighbouring Balkan countries, a rich platform with original texts in the field, artists profiles, and collective exhibitions in Ankara, Athens and Sofia. After the long, uneven and by now quite multi-layered history of media art in the country, some signs of institutionalisation began to appear. Since 2006 the head curator of the Sofia City Art Gallery Maria Vassileva initiated a contemporary art and photography collection which through the years has systematically managed to integrate quite thickly video art specimens of the two previous decades. Many private collections around the world own video art works by Bulgarian artists. The Mtel/ArtProject Depo collection includes works by Boryana Rossa, Nina Kovacheva and Valentin Stefanov, Krassimir Terziev, Ergin Cavusoglu. Video works by Nedko Solakov and Boryana Rossa are part of the Erste Group Kontakt collection in Vienna. Works by Boryana Rossa are in the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum collection in New York. Works by Nedko Solakov, Kalin Serapionov, Ivan Moudov, Krassimir Terziev are in the Moderna Galerija collection in Ljubljana. Video installations and separate videos by Nedko Solakov are part of the Burger Collection in Hong Kong; Caldic Collectie B.V., Roterdam; Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art; De Vleeshal, Midelburg; Fonds regional d’art contemporain de Bretagne, Chateaugiron; Fonds regional d’art contemporain de Languedoc-Roussillon, Montpelier; Herning Kunstmuseum, Herning, Denmark; Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxemburg; Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. Nina Kovacheva and Valentin Stefanov are in the collections of the MOCA Taipei, Taiwan; Museum for New Arts, Detroit; Museum of Contemporary Art, South Korea; Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Fusion Arts Museum, New York; Guo Zhong Art Museum, Beijing; Goethe Institut Munich. Works by Ergin Cavusoglu are in the collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; Leeds City Art Gallery; FRAC Alsace; Sammlung Goetz, Munich; DD Collection (Dimitris Daskalopoulos), Athens; Vehbi Koç Foundation; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Neues Museum, Nuremberg; Istanbul Modern; Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen; Arts Council England; Borusan Contemporary. Krassimir Terziev is in the collection of the Centre Pompidou modern art museum in Paris. Of course, many more private collections around the world include video works by Bulgarian artists but offering here a full list is beyond my capacity and perhaps out of place.

Kalin Serapionov

1719D, 2007.

Video installation

Details

  • Material: two-channel video installation; DVD, color, NTSC, 4:3, no sound; 35' (loop); 2 video projectors, 2 DVD players, 2 spaces
  • Sizes: dimension variable

  • Description: Installation view Heterotopias, 1st Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece 2007

Kalin Serapionov

As Far Away as Near, 2013.

Video installation

Details

  • Material: Video installation; HD video, 4.0 surround sound, custom size screen, black space; 10'26'' (loop). Soundtrack Martin Lukanov and Angel Simitchiev
  • Sizes: dimension variable

  • Description: Installation view at the ICA Gallery, Sofia 2013

***

The development of all of the abovementioned art forms doesn’t mean that the genre of performance documented on video camera just disappeared. Quite on the contrary, it found its grounds and strength precisely at the time of development of the whole spectrum of techniques of image manipulation in digital video. But this is video performance in the sense that it is impossible to separate the performativity of language and the form of the video, the two positions fully reflect each other and form a enclosed hole. Nedko Solakov made a heartbreaking walk around all buildings of national institutions of power in his Silent (But As Rich As Only The Bulgarian Language Can Be) F Words (2009). Kosta Tonev performed a simple but efficient ritual in one frame in Self-Sufficient Machine (2009). In Performing Time (2012) Ivan Moudov offered the viewer the opportunity to trace how the author physically controls time by moving the hands of a clock over 24 hours.

Ivan Mudov

Performing Time, 2012.

Video

Details


  • Description: HD video, no sound, 24 hours (loop). Video still. Courtesy of Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani and the artist.

Nirvana (2012) by Adelina Popnedeleva offered us a strong tactile sensation of washing clothes with mud. Samuil Stoyanov beautifully animated stuffed specimen of the animal kingdom in his video 10 min. National Museum of Natural Science (2013).

Kamen Stoyanov

Impossible, 2015.

Video Art

Details

  • Photographer: Kamen Stoyanov
  • Material: 39:35 minutes

  • Property of: Sariev Contemporary
  • Description: A rubber boat is moving in the sea living white traces, which dissolve afterwards into smaller waves.
    One realizes slowly the sense behind the not linear movements. The boat tries to write again and again letter after letter, the word “Impossible”. It is several days trial to make the impossible possible.
  • Copyright: Kamen Stoyanov
  • References: https://vimeo.com/kamenstoyanov/impossible

Kamen Stoyanov found a sublime use for an abandoned billboard at the Sofia airport in his video performance Synchronisation (2010) and in Impossible (2015) he choreographed the movement of a boat at sea which were supposed to spell out the letters of the title one by one. Mariana Todorova recorded her experiments with textile forms “to be worn in a collective” as part of her series Movables (2011).

Samuil Stoyanov

10 min National Museum of Natural History, 2013.

Video Art

Details

  • Photographer: Rayna Teneva
  • Material: Single canal, Full HD, sound, 10'20"

  • Property of: the author
  • Description: Camera: Rayna Teneva
    Video and audio editing: Stanislav Kolev and Samuil Stoyanov

    Samuil Stoyanov's site-specific space portraits series started with the Geocidite building in Belgrade where the 53rd October Salon took place in 2012. To study these modernist spaces of display and presentation, the artist first destabilizes the light, the fixed element of every space as such. Through these portraits every building he interacts with becomes a part of Stoyanov's artistic cosmos. In a gesture of hurling a light bulb above his head making the largest possible circle, Stoyanov, in his own words, makes reference to the movement of the space objects in the universe. Here the figure of the artist appears not only as a pseudo-scientist conducting inventive experiments but also as a black hole holding all the centrifugal movement in an orbit around him. The artist chose the Natural Museum of History in Sofia for the venue of his first-time such experiment in Bulgaria of a site-specific portrait as museum is a classic display place for geological history.
    Text by Ovul Durmusoglu (Turkey/Germany).

    Filmed in the National Museum of Natural History - Sofia, Bulgaria
    Produced by Sofia Contemporary 2013 Festival.
  • Copyright: Samuil Stoyanov
  • References: http://www.samuilstoyanov.com/en_EN/works/2013-2/10-min-natural-museum/

***

In the current decade art video on the contemporary art scene in Bulgaria is undergoing a new shift in dynamics. Instead of the original link to the new media of the 1990s, now video is more akin to all the “old”, long established media: the students in the Digital Arts program are more interested in the potential of software and man-machine interactivity rather than that of the moving image; the newly emerged, albeit weak, market is focused mainly on object and material works; institutions still haven’t accumulated sufficient equipment and expertise to professionally display or store more complex video works. The very technology of video has undergone radical turbulence as a result of the development of digital technology, the melting of all things physical into software emulations and the convergence of media into hybrid and new forms and gadgets. In this new situation, artists who continue to work with video need to reconsider their approaches, to find new grounds, new forms and new languages. Vikenti Komitski used the endless archive of “found footage” in his 6-channel installation Oil Eruptions (2010) in order to compile a series of progressive explosions of petrol taken from Hollywood films.

Pravdoliub Ivanov

Black Balloons, 2013.

Video Art

Details

  • Material: HD video, color, sound, 1’10”

Oleg Mavromatti found material to experiment with in YouTube. His film No Place for Fools (2015) is entirely composed of footage found online. In his film My Heart is an Octopus or My Father on the Shore of the Black Sea (2014) Neno Belchev managed to develop a strongly individual and syncretic language inserting elements of fiction, documentary, animation, self-quotes and many other innovative elements into a pseudo-autobiographical narrative. Geri Georgieva played with the opportunities of staging to dive into the depths of national identities constructed in culture tourism and turbo-pop-folk: Balkan Idol (2015); The Blushing Valley (2017).

Gery Georgieva

Balkan Idol, 2016.

Video Art

Details

  • Material: video

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Working with video as an visual artist in Bulgaria is a constant process of dialogue and renegotiating territories – with mainstream cinema, with the historically established media in visual art, with the development of technological formats, with the conventions of institutions presenting art, with the habits of audiences and connoisseurs. This means a complicated navigation between different disciplinary spaces, each of which states its grounds in various traditions, sticks to its origin and often uses its professional principles as a mask for various ideological operations.


[1] On 14 December 1989 at one of the first large-scale oppositional rallies in front of Parliament aimed at changing the one-party political system according to a video circulated by the opposition Petar Mladenov, Chairman of the State Council of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria at the time, said “Better bring in the tanks”, which lead to the fall of the government and the beginning of the transition in Bulgaria. See: Wikipedia <http://bg.wikipedia.org/wiki/ноемврийски_плену_ на_цк_на_бкп_(1989)>

[2] Anatoliy Kashpirovski is a para-psychotherapist who, following his success in the USSR, visited Bulgaria in the Vsyaka Nedelya [Every Sunday] show on Bulgarian National Television, conducting the so called “telebridges” for remote mass healing.

[3] A technique in computer animation and special effects where one image gradually turns into another through the connection of key points of transition of one image into the other. See: https://bg.wikipedia.org/wiki/Анимация.

[4] A technique of direct transmission of video images, broadcast in real time without being recorded on tape. It’s used both by early video art, and in surveillance systems etc. See: Slavko Kacunko. Closed Circuit Videoinstallationen: Ein Leitfaden zur Geschichte und Theorie der Medienkunst mit Bausteinen eines Künstlerlexikons. Berlin: Logos Verlag, 2004.

[5] A genre of documentary film uncovering the dynamics behind the scene of a film production. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Making-of.