Publications

Open Art Files is part of the Open Art Foundation’s “Introduction to Contemporary Art” educational program. In addition to the website, it includes publishing, exhibitions, and events. In this section you can find more information on the publications of the program, which give an in-depth and accessible overview of artists, artworks, and the historical processes connected to the Bulgarian contemporary art. The publications are available in two languages and some of the are accessible online, alongside an abundant photographic and bibliographic archive.


Vessela Nozharova

Introduction to Bulgarian Contemporary Art, 1982 - 2015, 2018.

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Introduction to Bulgarian Contemporary Art, 1982 - 2015. Vessela Nozharova. 2018

Vesela Nozharova’s Introduction to Bulgarian Contemporary Art, 1982-2015 came out of lectures given in Plovdiv and Sofia during the educational program “Introduction to Contemporary Art”, organised by the Open Arts Foundation.

This book investigating the Bulgarian art scene is especially valued for its encyclopedic overview of the transition period, filled with many social, economic and cultural transformations, during which the artists react, criticise and offer alternatives, which did not always get realised. The narrative is chronological and split into four parts: “Contemporary Art in Bulgaria until the late 80s”, “Contemporary Art in Bulgaria During the First Half of the 90s”, “The second half of the 90s”, “Contemporary Bulgarian Art after 2000”, which create a solid idea for the booming cultural life and the disillusionment with the context. Reading is made easy by the writer’s choice to describe the processes through the event-artist-work hierarchy, which allows for the simultaneous tracking of ideas, associations, collectives, quests. Additional parts comment on the role of critique and institutions, the quests for going beyond the domestic context, the appearance of the contemporary curator and the attempts for development of patrons and collectors, which points to the root cause of questions that are still relevant today.

In addition to the engaging story, the book is vividly illustrated with archival photos, which manage to visualise and advance the history of bulgarian contemporary art. The references to and quotations from interviews, art criticism in periodicals, catalogues, programs, and online archives reveal how scattered is the multitude of stories of artists, critics, curators, and audiences. The arrangement of such a rich and complex archive and the strive for objectivity are what makes Introduction to Bulgarian Contemporary Art, 1982-2015 such an important and seemingly humble introduction to the history of processes that are still going on today.

Janet 45 Publishing, 2018
Open Arts Foundation, co-publisher, 2018
Vessela Nozharova, author, 2018

Kiril Zlatkov, design, 2018
Poststudio, cover gesign, 2018
On the Cover: “Memory Is a Muscle” by Pravdoliub Ivanov (2007, detail)

Format: 165/240 cm.
Soft covers
Pages: 300
ISBN: 978-619-186-435-5

The book is distributed in bookshops in Bulgaria.
Paper edition (English): 68.00 leva
Online (English): 64.60 leva
Order the English edition here.


Vera Mlechevska

Open Art Files: Notes and Footnotes, 2019.

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Open Art Files: Notes and Footnotes. Vera Mlechevska. 2019

„Open Art Files: Notes and Footnotes“ is the catalog accompanying the exhibition of the same name and an educational program of tours, lectures, and screenings, curated by Vera Mlechevska and realized as part of the activities of the Open Arts Foundation.

As the curator shares in the introductory text: "Conversations about the history of art never go in one direction, they always deviate into many personal stories, side notes and exceptions…". Thus, this edition does not attempt a linear narrative, but one "by intuition", guided by the suggestions of the image and the possible relationships between different views on the image. It gathers more than 40 authors from different time periods and geographical trajectories. Distinguishable themes in this overview are the institution and what’s beyond it, collectives and the routes they carry, the body and identity formation. The curatorial approach is not exhaustive but curious about the invisible connections driving the processes behind Bulgarian contemporary art and includes less or completely unknown artists and works along with well-known representatives of the contemporary art scene.

The project was developed in parallel with the Open Art Files website, where works, accompanying texts and creative biographies can be found, some of which are included in the publication "Open Art Files: Notes and footnotes". The catalog is bilingual and is distributed free of charge, and has an  online version.

Publisher: Open Arts Foundation
Plovdiv, 2019

Compiler of the catalogue: Vera Mlechevska
Translation:  Detelina Garbatova
Proofreading – Bulgarian: Lora Sultanova
Proofreading – English: Sophia Kleinsasser

Design and prepress: Poststudio
Print: Pulsioprint

Format: 165/240 mm
PaperbackPages: 224
Print run: 300
ISBN: 978-619-91470-0-9

Online edition


Open Arts Foundation

10 Years Open Arts: HERE EVERYWHERE, 2018.

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10 years Open Arts: HERE EVERYWHERE. 2018

„10 years Open Arts: HERE EVERYWHERE“ is a jubilee edition of the Open Arts Foundation, which is both an assessment of the activities carried out, a celebration of the achievements and a momentary picture of the various ongoing activities of the association. A chronological table at the beginning of the publication shows that this story cannot be collected in a linear chronology, but consists of many different presentations, discussions, educational lectures, video screenings, exhibitions, civic initiatives and a series of events involving architects, designers, economists, artists, art critics - people involved in cultural life and with an active civic vision for their city, without which the realization of the mentioned would not be possible.

The publication is also a catalog of the accompanying exhibition entitled "10 Years Open Arts: HERE EVERYWHERE" curated by Vladiya Mihailov, held in 2017 in Plovdiv. "HERE EVERYWHERE" the curator writes, "is a conceptual tool with which I approached the meaning of the archive and the history of the organization." The exhibition has a hybrid character with the inclusion of documentary and artistic partсe, and its implementation is related to the revitalization of the abandoned children's store Detmag "Snezhanka" in the center of Plovdiv.

The publication is also available online and is a suitable introduction to the activities of the Open Arts Foundation, as well as to the initiatives that continue to develop to this day.

Text: Vladiya Mihaylova and Open Arts Foundation archive
Editors: Vesselina Sarieva, Katrin Sarieva
Coordination and editing: Vasilena Pancharova
Translation: Kaloyan Nachev, Luiza Yordanova
Correction: Lora Sultanova

Design: PUNKT Studio
Print run: 500

Online edition


Other publications:

Open Art Files was created with the idea to provide greater visibility and accessibility of contemporary Bulgarian art locally and internationally. The publications below are part of an internationally recognized bibliography with a focus on contemporary art in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe, covering topics related to history, culture, social changes and artistic processes. They give insight into the historical circumstances of artistic life and also try to make sense of these processes not only in their local perspective, but also in a more general European and global artistic context of contemporary art.


Maja Fowkes, Reuben Fowkes

Central and Eastern European Art Since 1950 (World of Art), 2020.

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Central and Eastern European Art Since 1950 (World of Art). Maja and Reuben Fowkes. 2020

The art histories of Central and Eastern Europe are interlaced with dissonant voices, conflicting tendencies and rival proclamations that derive their distinctiveness from exceptional local conditions. This observation is tempered when the lens is fine-tuned to particular artworks and singular art practices, or the focus of inquiry widened to reveal a web of connecting threads and common attitudes.

While politics in the region have been marked by unstable geography and dramatic transitions, artists have forged a path of persistent experiment and innovation. This generously illustrated overview explores the richness of their singular contribution to recent art history. 

Tracing art-historical changes from the short-lived unison of the socialist realist period to the incredible diversity of art in the post-communist era, the authors examine the repercussions of political events on artistic life – notably the uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Solidarity movement in Poland, and the collapse of the communist bloc, by recognizing and following artistic examples from the Baltic countries and the Balkans.

But their primary interest is in the experimental art of the neo-avant-garde that resisted official agendas and engaged with global currents such as performance art, video, multimedia and net art.

Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Format: 210/150 mm
Pages: 232
ISBN: 978-0-500-20437-5

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Ed. Maria Vassileva

Art for Change 1985-2015, 2015.

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Art for Change 1985-2015. Ed. Maria Vassileva. 2015

"Art for Change 1985-2015" extensively traces the designated role of the artist in the transitional period for Bulgarian politics and culture from the beginning of the Perestroika (1985) to 2015. The exhibition in Sofia City Art Gallery and the following publication appeared immediately after the protests in Bulgaria in 2013, which brought out messages and expressions of social and creative resistance, important for the urban and political visual environment .

The publication collects a rich photographic bibliography of installations, performances, video art, digital prints and other documentation, which is further developed in a series of interviews and texts.

"In the present text", writes Vassileva, "I tried to create an unstable and hypothetical narrative about how the emerging contemporary art in Bulgaria relates to a particular political, public, visual context". In this line special attention is dedicated to "the artist as an active social element."

The book was published on the occasion of the "Art of Change" exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery, 2015.
Curator: Maria Vassileva

Editor: Maria Vassileva
Authors: Maria Vassileva, Diana Popova, Boyan Manchev, Georgi Tenev, Alexander Kiossev
Interviews with Svetlin Roussev, Nedko Solakov and Luchezar Boyadjiev

Graphic design: Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova
Translation: Katerina Popova and Luchezar Boyadjiev

Print: Military Publishing House
Preprint: INK-111
ISBN: 978-619-7004-070

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Interviews


Ed. Irina Genova, Angel Angelov

Post Histories of Art, 2001.

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Post Histories of Art. Ed. Irina Genova, Angel Angelov. 2001

"Post Histories of Art" examines questions about the history and histories of art today through the "end of art" debate since the 1980s. Looking through the concepts of "end" and "art history" presents a good opportunity here to problematize other key concepts such as era, context, artwork, representation, interpretation, gaze. The collection of translated texts in the edition presents authors who were formed as philosophers, aesthetes, literary and critics, but focused their activities on the history and theory of the image.

"Post Histories of Art" is part of a general publishing and educational project related to the editors' courses at the New Bulgarian University, Sofia. The aim of the project is to problematize concepts and categories that have structured the study of art in a historical perspective.

The edition compiles key texts by authors such as Hans Belting, Arthur Danto, Clement Greenberg, Yves-Alain Bois, and others related to the modernity-resistant idea of ​​the "end (of the history in) art". The authors' conviction is that through this selection it is possible to understand art as a personal concern, a kind of participation and responsible enjoyment.

Due to the early publication year, the edition may be more difficult to discover on its own and more readily available in specialist visual arts libraries.

Compilers and academic editors: Irina Genova, Angel Angelov
Editor: Petya Aleksandrova
Cover artist: Yana Levieva

Preprint and print: Ph Metropolis
ISBN: 954-90776-1-6 


Ed. Irina Genova, Angel Angelov

Narrating the Image, 2003.

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Narrating the Image. Ed. Irina Genova, Angel Angelov. 2003

"Narrating the Image" is the second book from a joint publishing and educational project related to the compilers' courses at the New Bulgarian University, Sofia. The aim of the project is to problematize concepts and categories that have structured the study of art in a historical perspective. A thematization that leads to approaches related to the broader concept of the "visual image" and which are related to the techniques of its creation, distribution and assimilation/use, to the changing conventions of viewing.

A key focus is  dedicated also to the dissemination and study of the "visual image" and the formation of the unifying image of the "spectator" in relation to the development and improvement of photography. Through it, "it becomes possible", writes Irina Genova, "the discussion and study of works of art without them being physically available" and leads to "the appearance of the "mediated" viewer of the "objectless" image, the viewer of reproductions". A change before which Abby Warburg's Mnemosyne atlas of photo reproductions would have been technically impossible.

The selection of texts for translation is also a challenge for the editors in navigating between interdisciplinary approaches, as well as in the careful translation of terms. The edition includes translations by Hans Belting, Eric Michaud, Timothy J. Clark and others.

Due to the early publication year, the edition may be more difficult to discover on its own and more readily available in specialist visual arts libraries.

Compilers and academic editors: Irina Genova, Angel Angelov
Translators: Maria Dimitrova, Anthony Donchev, Lyudmila Dimova, Stanka Genova, Krassimir Mirchev, Yulian Bozhkov
Publisher SFRAGIDA
ISBN: 954-90776-2-4


Boyan Manchev

The End of Contemporary Art? (Or the Future of Art)., 2023.

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The End of Contemporary Art? (Or the Future of Art). Boyan Manchev. 2021, 2023

The question about the end has played a definitive role in what art is, whether the end (of history) of contemporary art is coming, or what is the historical horizon of contemporary art. The book "The End of Contemporary Art" examines these questions in a historical and critically analytical vision. The symptoms in these questions are also through the social, political and economic dynamics of the contemporary.

In this line of thought, the museum and the gallery have an essential role, as well as the emerging idea of ​​the contemporary art institute and the transition towards the educational, institutional and performative role of the exhibition space. In this perspective is expressed and criticized the thesis of a radical transformation, if not of a gradual but irreversible exhaustion of the driving forces and forms of aesthetic practice defined for the last half century as "contemporary art".

The analysis is based on representative examples from the field of contemporary art, as well as influential theories and attitudes in contemporary philosophy, political and economic theory, and art history. The book is aimed both at researches and at a wider audience with an interest in contemporary culture.

Publisher: Metheor
Graphic concept and preprint: strx / Metheor

Print: Simolini 94
Format: 125/180 mm
ISBN: 978-619-7291-26-1
Publication

The End of Contemporary Art? From Performance Art Towards Performative Capitalism, 2016
Lecture by Boyan Manchev
Sofia City Art Gallery
The lecture is part of the educational platform "Introduction to Contemporary Art" on the initiative of the "Open Arts" Foundation.


Georgi Lozanov, Georgi Gospodinov

The Afternoon of an Ideology, 2016.

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The Afternoon of an Ideology. Georgi Lozanov, Georgi Gospodinov. 2016

The exhibition and the accompanying catalog "The Afternoon of an Ideology" searches through the rich collection of the Sofia City Art Gallery for the space of memory preserved in art and works with it, beyond the medialized and politically narrow narratives - towards the critacally observed legacy of the recent past. Leading for the authors is the question of the failed public debate about the assessment of the recent past, which did not lead to catharsis or liberation.

"The Afternoon of an Ideology" directs the viewer's gaze to everyday life as it was seen by artists during communist Bulgaria. The authors included are examined not so much according to the "style" of their artistic language as through the "handwriting" of the artist in his social context. The project includes works whose signatures are drawn together by the interest in the everyday life of this period.

The curators' insight is carefully distinguished from the post-communist relativism of the past, which in the public sphere, through the mass media, often tries to rewrite history. The analysis of the historical evaluation passes between the "banality of evil" according to Hannah Arendt and the subsequent "banality of goodness" in the Bulgarian context, along with the nostalgia of the generations who lived before 1989, writes Lozanov. Thus, the curator's and author's view draws the often joyless everyday life of the communist years and the lack of eventfulness in ordinary people's daily life.

The exhibition and the accompanying catalog "The Afternoon of an Ideology" are part of the "Other Eye" project of the Sofia City Art Gallery.

Authors: Georgi Lozanov, Georgi Gospodinov
Translation: Vassil Yovchev, Milena Nikolova, Irina Dimitrova
Graphic design: Kapka Kaneva
Photography: Tsvetan Ignatovsky

Print: Multiprint Ltd
Publisher: SCAG
ISBN: 978-619-7195-05-7
Sofia City Art Gallery


Ed. Viktoria Draganova

The Possible Institution, 2021.

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The Possible Institution. Edited by Viktoria Draganova. 2021

"The Possible Institution" problematizes what is the role of the institution - real, historical, imaginary, and the relations we form with it. In a series of meetings, discussions, performances and workshops, the project explores and questions what is the operational linguistic apparatus with which it is "instituted", as well as the actions that create possibilities in the institutional.

In times of pandemic and global crisis of institutions, but also in the local context of inherited lacks in the policies of and towards institutions, other dimensions of the institution are carried within the conversations, such as infrastructure, psychology, activism, attitude, care. Those invited to take part in the project are mostly artists and close to the artistic field.

The publication "The Possible Institution", carefully designed by Martin Atanasov, appears as a continuation of the project, but also as a necessary archive for the possible institution through the space of the book.

Authors: Dessislava Dimova, Lubomir Draganov, Viktoria Draganova, Stefan Ivanov, Vladiya Mihaylova, Maria Nalbantova, Martin Penev, Radostin Sedevchev, Miryana Todorova, Ina Valentinova, Ani Vaseva, Yasen VasilevDesign: Martin Atanasov

Publisher: Swimming Pool – The Blue Cube Foundation
ISBN: 978-619-91937-0-9

Publication
about the possible institution - film-documenatation