Postmodernistic incorporation of media and conceptual art. The role of text and object in contemporary art.

by Dessislava Mileva

“Conceptualism is a movement, which turns its perspective inward onto itself, onto the reasons for the creation of art, it asks the question of what an artist is and soon goes as far as to look deeper into everything modernism tried to draw out of the territory of art.”[1]

In 2012 Luchezar Boyadjiev creates the piece “The Sum of All Fears”. There he uses the photomontage technique to superimpose the well-known photo of artist Marcel Duchamp[2] over the image of a black square, which refers to one of russian painter Kazimir Malevich’s most famous works. Boyadjiev elaborates on the meaning behind his work: “I thought to myself that the only thing I was really afraid of was for the story to begin with the black square - start from zero, progress to a certain point and then get stuck in a loop, so that we go back to Duchamp and Malevich all over again…”

Luchezar Boyadjiev

The Sum of All Fears, 2012.

Collage

Details


Luchezar Boyadjiev’s fear, probably embedded in the works of many other contemporary artists as well, could be defined as postmodernistic in its nature, because of the painter’s attitude towards modernist heritage. Postmodernism itself essentially started off as “an overcoming” of modernity. Without existing as a separate social or artistic movement, it embodies the distancing from and renounciation of aesthetic principles, traditions and, in this sense, some of the central practices of modernistic art. The constant search for novelity and originality, which determine the aesthetic value of any modernistic piece, is replaced by a reversion to typical, familiar, traditinal elements, only this time used and percieved in the light of their cultural value, stratification and deep-rootedness. Thus, citation of literary artworks, especially ones that have become emblematic in art history, is a common practice, which artists develop through various kinds of media and techniques.

Considering that Duchamp and Malevich are figures, associated with some of modern art’s revolutions, their heritage, consisting of both artistic practices and views on topics, such as the meaning and importance of an artwork, the museum as an institution and the connection between the two of them, is constantly reviewed and questioned by contemporary bulgarian artists. For the realization of his project called “Fragments”, Ivan Moudov visited a number of prestigious galleries and museums between 2002 and 2007, stealing fragments from various artworks at any given chance. Whenever he got lucky, the artist assembled the stolen elements in a specially crafted box in a valise, following the example of Marcel Duchamp’s boîtes-en-valise, created between 1942 and 1966. Unlike Duchamp’s boxes though, which contain reproductions of his own original works, Moudov’s are only made up of authentic but stolen ones. The artist uses his creations to raise questions about “the value systems in contemporary art, about property, about the role of museums; he critically points back to the history of collections – a history of appropriation above all else.”[3]

Ivan Mudov

Fragments box #1, 2002.

Installation

Details

  • Photographer: Еsa Lundйn
  • Material: Handmade box, stolen fragments

  • Description: Courtesy of Nedko Solakov

    Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2008

    2002/2007

Reversing the very point of artistic gesture, as is the case for Ivan Moudov, or ironizing it, is, in this sense, closely associated with the postmodernistic practice of citation. Painter Kiril Prashkov’s series, titled Natural Modernism relies on the same idea. Prashkov’s wooden sculpture looks like a replica of one of Duchamp’s most well-known works – Bicycle Wheel. But while Duchamp uses a found object for creating his piece, namely a wheel from a bicycle, Kiril Prashkov handcrafts his sculpture, thus exploring the idea of an artwork’s originality and the artist’s role in creating it. Pravoliub Ivanov’s ironically titled Wrinkles of Modernity (2015) on the other hand plays with the visual and aesthetic principles of another one of Duchamp’s works – Large Glass, by using it as a foundation for the very concept of his installation. For the pattern of the carpet’s fragmentation Ivanov used the cracks that were left in the glass of Duchamp’s damaged work while it was being transported, thus offering a new perspective on the visual heritage, left by the artistic revolutions, while also exploring the contingencies of time.

Pravdoliub Ivanov

Wrinkles of Modernity, 2015.

Installation

Details

  • Material: Metal, acrylic glass, carpet
  • Width: 318.00 cm    Height: 216.00 cm    Depth: 80.00 cm   

  • Property of: Collection Boghossian Foundation, Brussels

Pravdoliub Ivanov

Wrinkles of Modernity, 2015.

Installation

Details

  • Photographer: Pravdoliub Ivanov
  • Material: Metal, acrylic glass, carpet
  • Width: 318.00 cm    Height: 216.00 cm    Depth: 80.00 cm   

  • Property of: Collection Boghossian Foundation, Brussels

Pravdoliub Ivanov

Wrinkles of Modernity, 2015.

Installation

Details

  • Photographer: Pravdoliub Ivanov
  • Material: Metal, acrylic glass, carpet
  • Width: 216.00 cm    Height: 318.00 cm    Depth: 80.00 cm   

  • Description: Collection Boghossian Foundation, Brussels

Again Ivan Moudov takes one of Duchamp’s pseudonym and prints it on toilet paper. The pseudonym was originally used to sign his Fountain (1917), essentialy a urinal.

The theme of desacralization not only of art, but also of history could be found in one of art group Destructive Creation’s well-known campaigns. In 2011 they painted over the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, turning the soldiers into some of the most popular characters in american culture, such as Superman and Captain America. However, borrowing and recycling historical figures in postmodernism is executed with distancing from the primary source and emphasis on the figues’ cultural value in order to establish a critical viewpoint on problems and phenomena of today’s society. Hello, Lenin! is the title of Kamen Stoyanov’s photographic series from 2003, created in his hometown of Russe.

Kamen Stoyanov

Hello Lenin, 2003.

Painting

Details

  • Photographer: Vasilena Gankovska
  • Material: photography, video

  • Property of: Kamen Stoyanov
  • Description: The series of photographs Hello Lenin (2003) is a documentation of a performance
    Kamen Stoyanov did in his hometown Rousse in Bulgaria in the summer of 2003. It
    shows him climbing on an empty pedestal, whose statue had been removed in 1990 . Formerly, the statue of Lenin was placed here. Stoyanov wanted to demonstrate how the statue had disappeared but not its ideology; it has just been replaced by a new one.
  • Copyright: Kamen Stoyanov

It follows the artist himself climbing onto and standing on the empty pedestal, which used to hold Lenin’s statue during socialism. Stoyanov, who in this case greatly resembles the politician, demonstrates that in spite of the absence of a physical embodiment of the ideology – the statue, the ideology itself never really goes away, it  is only replaced by another one. The theme of memory and memorials in societal conciousness is also explored by Stefan Nikolaev in his 2003 project, titled Monument next to Monument, where he moves Hristo Botev’s statue from a square in Vratsa next to that of Benedikt Fontana in Chur, Switzerland. The physical distancing has an even more absurd effect considering the stylistic similarities between the two monuments.

In 2013 Vikenti Komitski, using collage and photomontage techniques, created his artwork The Way I Remember That Building, where a hand is to be seen, holding a small five-pointed star in front of the National Assembly building in Sofia, where the Bulgarian Communst Party used to reside. The Communist Party House’s real star, on the other hand, could be seen through the telescope of Nedko Slavkov’s 1989 installation View to the West. In Vikenti Komitski’s work, however, political reflection is replaced by a deeper study of the image, the layered meanings behind it and the confrontation between those meanings. The National Assemby building can also be found in one of Krassimir Terziev’s works, titled KingPartien KongDom (“KingParty KongHouse”), where, instead of a star, the artists placed the image of a giant gorilla on top of the building. The photomontage technique is what allows Terziev not only to combine images that are usually incompatible, but also to create other kinds of visual associations, such as posters for the first King Kong films with their underlying ideological references.

“Underneath every picture, there is always another picture” – a principle, studied by art expert Douglas Crimp[4], which lies at the core of many art experiments, related to the pictures of mass culture, created through cinema, television and advertising, and their amalgamation with cultural, linguistic, sexual, gender-related and other kinds of stereotypes. Alla Georgieva is the main character in her own photographic series Alla’s Secret (2000), which explores the relations between images, created by underwear advertisements and the reality of a woman’s role at home and in society.

Alla Georgieva

Alla's Secret-II / Collection 2000, 2000.

Photography

Details

  • Material: digital print on paper
  • Width: 100.00 cm    Height: 130.00 cm    Depth: cm   

  • Property of: Alla Georgieva
  • Description: My works are inspired by the world of advertisement. I investigate the contrast between advertising strategies and the real life. In series of three posters I present my paranoid existence, borrowing tools for influence from advertisement, which itself uses the fashionable strategy of imitating the “real life”. The title of the work is a paraphrase of the name of the worldwide famous underwear company “Victoria’s Secret”. I advertise underwear and at the same time I “advertise” my own life. In the three posters I am cooking three traditional Bulgarian dishes in my house. I use the popular logos from different famous advertisements for underwear.
  • Copyright: Alla Georgieva

In order to present the firmly established ideas of a relationship between the sexes and each of their roles in the form of new visusal stories, Boryana Rossa creates her video installation called After the Fall (2008-2012), where she uses both original footage from socialist and postsocialist films from the Eastern bloc, and reenactments of some of the scenes she recorded herself. In another one of her works, The Vitruvian Man, Rossa questions the image of the ideal human by replacing the fihure of a man in Leonardo da Vinci’s original drawing with that of a woman. Meanwhile, Yassen Zgurovski uses pictures from mass culture mixed with pop art’s bright colors and graphicity in his series Creation of the Myth in order to address the issues of identity and politics. The influence of pop art aestheticsis is also to be found in Stanislav Belovski’s work, where he often combines images from popular culture and those of public figures with ironic phrases relevant to the current social situation. In his 2017 piece Make Melania Great Again the picture of the First Lady of the United States is confronted with Donald Trump’s infamous slogan, while the newspaper collage in the background hints towards president Trump’s difficult relationship with the media.

Krassimir Terziev also demonstrates his interest towards a picture’s multiple dimensions with his first works from the mid-1990s by mixing together original ideas with elements taken from a number of different sources – media, paintings, photography, video, digital artworks, etc. For his installation Let’s Dance from 1996 he cuts 10 white shirts, then sews them together to form of a circle, which resembles a group of people dancing together while round dance (horo) is played on a cassette recorder in the background. And in another one of his works titiled On the Bulgarian Track (2002) the artist uses footage from foreign films, where Bulgaria is mentioned in connection with a number of cliches and stereotypes. The theme of identity and the expressions of traditionality is also found in Kiril Prashkov’s long series of works that began in the early 1990s. In one of them called National Helmet (1992) Prashkov covers a military helmet with traditional motifs from pottery decoration, while for National Beans (2002) he fills a couple of small jars with beans painted in the colors of the bulgarian flag. Another artist, Huben Tcherkelov, who became one of the main figures of art group XXL in the ‘90s, in his work nowadays uses images from old bulgarian banknotes that are actually the paintings of iconic artists, such as Ivan Markvichka, Anton Mitov, Yaroslav Veshin and Ivan Milev. Photographers Boris Misirkov and Georgi Bogdanov’s works, on the other hand, explore the elements of bulgarian chalga (pop-folk) culture in the ‘90s. In their series called New Mythology (2000-2001) they combine iconographic images from classical artworks with Pierre & Gilles’ kitsch aesthetics and pictures of well-known chalga performers, while another photographer, Alexander Valtchev uses the compositions of famous Renaissance paintings for his series titled Reminiscences (2004-2009), where he replaces the historical figures with people close to him.

Alexander Valchev

S.Y. - art critic, 2004.

Photography

Details

  • Photographer: Alexander Valchev
  • Material: Inkjet print on photo paper, aluminous
  • Width: 42.00 cm    Height: 65.00 cm    Depth: cm   

  • Property of: artist, Sofia City Art Gallery
  • Copyright: Alexander Valchev

The techniques of photography and collage are also used by Georgi Ruzhev in his work The One-Dimenisional Man Died from 1992 where he, as well as Alla Georgieva, photographs himself, yet the viewer is bound to see only the image created by the artist, which, in this case, is that of Jesus Christ. Recognizable upon first glance, it questions one of the so-called “big narratives”, on which modern society is built. According to french philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, these narratives, which he also refers to as metanarratives in one of his most popular works, The Postmodern: Explained, are ones that carry out ‘the functon of legitimization’[5] and which ‘represent an idea directed towards some kind of purpose’[6], for instance, the ideas of the individual’s emancipation through knowledge that emerged during the Enlightenment, of the technical and scientific advance as means to improve society, or the Christian narrative’s ideas of redemption and the meaning of life. Lyotard characterizes the distrust of those ideas as one of the main features of postmodern era. Luchezar Boyadjiev uses symbolism and images from Christian mythology in some of his works, such as Fortification of Faiht (1989-1991), Crucifixion for the Fisherman (1991-1992) and Neo-Golgotha (1994), which he creates using various media and techniques – collage and small objects, fabric and photos. Boyadzhiev’s work also reflects on Christianity’s central stories by intertwining them with ironic observations on postsocialist bulgarian society’s searches, rovings and value systems.

However, the possibilities for changing the context and meaning of an object, and using it as a separate artistic artefact are explored in the works of artist, such as Pravdoliub Ivanov, Anton Terziev, Samuil Stoyanov, Vikenti Komitski, Peter Tsanev and Zoran Georgiev. In Anton Terziev’s view the object can be anything: from food to old cellphones, to toothbrushes and lace tablecloths, in combination with an ironic title. For his work Brooming of the System (2017), for example, he collects paintbrushes and pencils from his fellow artists Sasho Stoitsov, Deyan Yanev and Samuil Stoyanov, and attaches them to a wooden broomstick.

Anton Terziev

Brooming Of The System, 2014.

Sculpture

Details


Meanwhile, the found object in Stoyanov’s works could, quite absurdly, represent itself, as is the case with 30 kg of Salt (2014), or, contrarily, create fictions, as it does in Untitled (Reuse) (2014) – the work is accompanied by the following text: ‘This shoe box, is a reconstruction of a makeshift coffin by which we buried our housecat, not long ago.‘ Samuil Stoyanov also works with neon, creating installations that, sometimes directly, cite modern works and artists. Utopia 2 (2010) references not only american minimalist Dan Flavin’s neon series Monument, but also the utopian projects of russian artist Vladimir Tatlin, to whom Flavin dedicated the series. The neon lights that are switched off in Stoyanov’s Untitiled (Reuse) are only noticeable due to the additional light, just like the barely visible text on the wall explaining the reason for the failure of Tatlin’s constructions.

Samuil Stoyanov

Utopia 2, 2010.

Installation

Details

  • Photographer: автора
  • Material: switched off neon lamps, white PVC foil, Tahoma, 62p
  • Width: 35.00 cm    Height: 120.00 cm    Depth: 8.00 cm   

  • Property of: автора
  • Description: Текст на стената:
    Кулата Татлин не е била построена поради липсата на суровини, техническо оборудване и съмнения относно нейната целесъобразност.
  • Copyright: Text on the wall:
    The Tatlin's Tower wasn't built due to the lack of raw materials, technical equipment, and doubts concerning its expedience.

Rada Boukova’s works also reference elements of art history as seen through the prism of irony and detachment from the ogirinal context, characteristic of postmodernism. Debut du voyage en Orient from 2015 combines references to classical ancient greek art with the historical references carried by concepts, such as the Orient itself, and some of the questions the region is facing today. The installation’s title also suggests a connection to one of french author Alphonse de Lamartine’s most popular texts, Voyage en Orient, which helps build an understanding of the situation and development in the Balkans, not only by the time of its writing, but also in the following decades.

The practices of using found objects as parts of installations or as separate works are introduced in bulgarian art in late 1980s as, in the wake of the Restructuring (Perestroika), a number of young artist start experimenting with different materials and ideas. ‘Undeniably, the change in our art went through the purifying power of found objects. In the beginning those were objects related to the traditional bulgarian life (cart wheels, wooden fences, shovels and pitchforks), used for some kind of possible ritualistic shake-off of overexploited formulas, and for the return to a fresh start. The timeline of contemporary bulgarian art contains a lot of ready-mades.’[7] Among the works art expert Maria Vasileva talks about, are the installation forms created by Sasho Stoitsov for exhibitions, such as 11.11.88 and 11.11.89. For Energetic Boom the artist fills a single one of the drawers of an old wooden cabinet with lumps of coal, thus referring ironically to the electricity rationing the population is subjected to during socialism, while the work A Hole in the Parquet Floor was created, using real parquet.

Sasho Stoitzov

Boom in Power Engineering, 1988.

Installation

Details

  • Material: Coal, cupboard
  • Width: 70.00 cm    Height: 60.00 cm    Depth: 40.00 cm   

  • Property of: Sasho Stoitzov

Sasho Stoitzov

Hole in the Parquet, 1989.

Installation

Details

  • Material: Parquet
  • Width: 170.00 cm    Height: 170.00 cm    Depth: cm   

  • Property of: National Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria

At the same time Lyuben Kostov ironizes the crumbling regime’s military power by creating a complicated wooden machine with the title Strictly Confidential (1988), which is, in its essence, an old village carriage. The artist continues his series of wooden machines in the next two decades. Among the most famous of his constructions is Painting Machine (1988). Displayed not in an exhibition hall, but in the public space of the Crystal Garden in Sofia, the machine allows for the mechanical painting of pictures, in which the passers-by can participate. The matter of artistic production is thus addressed with irony and a sense of humor.

These times of political and social change are also where the exhibition The City takes place. In 1986 art expert Filip Zidarov proposes an idea of his to a group of young but already acclaimed artists, inclined towards painting – Gredi Assa, Bozhidar Boyadzhiev, Nedko Solakov, Andrei Daniel and Vihroni Popnedelev, for an art exhibition, only without any paintings. The artists spend nearly two years in the search for an approach and a concept for their exhibition. The principle of thinking beyond the bounderies of painting is defining for both the choice of expression and creative techniques, and for the guidelines and theme of the project. Without the canvas, the artists decide to use objects from everyday life and, more specifically, such that could be found in any ordinary city. The works they create operate with a language that is still poorly understood in Bulgaria – ‘installation’, ‘ready-made’, ‘conceptual approach’, and the exhibition’s success contributes to the development of a wider acceptance of these art forms, still new for the national scene. Campaigns of the newly emerged art group The City, such as Tower of Babel (1989) or The Chameleon (1990), were created using the same experimental and unorthodox approach, while the artists’ personal works were still mostly limited to painting.

In Nedko Solakov’s work, however, the canvas gradually becomes part of bigger installations, where one can observe the shift of focus from the ‘grand narratives’ to the small personal stories, also characteristic of postmodernism. Each one of these installations pulls the viewer into its own story, where the personal is mixed with elements from the artist’s absurd, ironic made-up stories. They are told using different kinds of media and techniques, such as video, artist’s found and transformed objects, ot text. Handwritten by the artist himself, sometimes on the walls of the exhibition space, thus being incorporated into the installation, the text simultaniously plays a part in the work’s visualization, as well as in the narration. Another widespread use of text, where its two purposes are combined, is in the works created with neon tubes, like those of artists Stefan Nikolaev, Kamen Stoyanov, Vikenti Komitski, Kalin Serapinov and Pravdoliub Ivanov. Stefan Nikolaev uses them in combination with popular phrases and inscriptions, such as One for the Money, Two for the Show (2015) and Balkanton (2004).

Stefan Nikolaev

One for the Money, Two for the Show, 2015.

Object

Details

  • Photographer: © Pravdoliub Ivanov
  • Material: neon
  • Width: 160.00 cm    Height: 32.00 cm    Depth: cm   

  • Description: edition number: 1/3+2AP

In Kalin Serapinov’s case those can be ambiguous expressions like the one in his 2016 piece I’m Safe.

Kalin Serapionov

I'm Safe, 2016.

Installation

Details

  • Material: Neon, installation
  • Width: 20.00 cm    Height: 240.00 cm    Depth: cm   
  • Sizes: Neon dimensions including cables and transformer 180x240х5 cm

  • Description: Installation view Contemporary Space, Varna 2016


    The phrase was "borrowed" from the postings in the social networks. It appeared after the recent terrorist acts and has unfortunately become an ever more often used status line. In the context of Facebook to be "safe" sounds comforting and somehow self-satisfactory. Outside though there appears another nuance – it is as if we are publically saying to ourselves that we are (kind of, thank God…) ok in the physical space.

    That is where there emerges a kind of a discourse between the meanings of the status in the social network versus in the physical space. In Facebook it is personal while in the physical space the viewer is anonymous. In this way we can analyze the reception within the change of context. That is not simply a physical registrar of people but a specific kind of stating materiality and existence.

By using the facebook status that allows people in disaster and conflict areas to share that they’re safe, the artist sets against each other the two meanings the word can adopt, depending on wether it is used in public or in virtual space. In the same time the red light from the neon tube evokes a feeling of danger, of unsafety. Vikenti Komitski also uses the features of light in combination with word play and ambiguous texts for some of his works, among which Titled (2009) and Beauty Is Not About the Way Things Look (2014). Text is the basic element in many other of his works, where he offers different interpretations and references to gestures and phrases from popular culture, for instance in I Swear I’m Having Fun (2016), No Fun (2015) and I Wish I Was That Cool (2010). Text is also used in a way that interferes with the exhibition space in other works, such as Nedko Solakov’s Scrabbles from 1996 and Pravdoliub Ivanov’s Never Enough (2011). Nedko Solakov writes the words ‘ICA’, ’White cube’, ’Christo’, ’Cindy Sherman’, ’Sigmar Polke’ and others on the mirrors of the National Art Gallery in Sofia using white permanent marker, thus intertwining the reflections of classical bulgarian pieces with images from a different history of art. Meanwhile the written works of Pravdoliub Ivanov explore the meanings of popular phrases, as well the different printing techniques and how they interact with each other. An interesting example of text-related work is the hardly visible phrase less is more on a white canvas, hidden under the words but never enough, written in black spray, whose creator is the father of modern architecture, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Text can also play a part in projects, concerning problems of socialism’s visual heritage and its reutilization in urban spaces. In their campaign titled Bright Future (2012), Raicho Stanev, Radomir Dankov and Evgeni Bogdanov (assosiation Nagledna) take old neon signs off the walls of buildings in Sofia, where different shops and cafés used to be in socialist times, with the idea of using them in the creation of new promises for bright future that people today are still looking to hear. Furthermore, one ordinary morning of April 2005 Sofia wakes up to find the whole city covered in posters announcing an extraordinary event, where a Museum of Contemporary Art /MUSIZ/ was to be opened in ‘Poduyane’ train station’s old building. The Gallery of Contemporary Art Ata-Rai also sent a press release to various media organizations inviting them to attend the opening. It was not until the guests arrived that they found out there is no such event, and the invitations they all received were actually a part of artist Ivan Moudov’s project, the purpose of which was to call attention to the lack of such an important institution in Bulgaria. The tendency to blur the lines between art and real life, that developed with the renounciation of an artistic piece’s status and ‘aura’ during the postmodern era, can take a number of different forms of expression. In 1996 Krassimir ‘Rassim’ Krastev started his project called Corrections. For a year and a half the artists followed a specific diet and workout routine in order to transform his body into that of a bodybuilder. He documented the gradual physical changes in photos and videos, while the end results from the ‘corrections’ were displayed in two before-and-after posters.

RASSIM® Krassimir Krastev

, 1996.

Photography

Details

  • Photographer: Angel Tsvetanov

RASSIM® Krassimir Krastev

, 1998.

Photography

Details

  • Photographer: Angel Tsvetanov

In spite of the differences in terms of concept, and means of expression and execution, both Ivan Moudov and Rassim’s projects aim at bringing art to territories and situations it’s usually left out of. Bora Petkova’s project Risk Capital (2012) is even more radical when it comes to dematerializing artistic works and putting them in the context of everyday life, where she collaborates with bank employees, uses the space and old counters of the bank, and signs a temporary contract with it.

Bora Perkova

Risk Capital, 2012.

Installation

Details

  • Photographer: Bora Petkova
  • Material: HD Video, PAL, 16:9, 00:03:29, with original audio; two original safes; two pairs original keys; two frames 25,3 / 25,3 / 4,5 см each

  • Description: Installation view: Bank of the Future, Carte Blanche # 1, curated by Vera Mlechevska, UniCredit Studio, Sofia. Bulgaria
    Supported by UniCredit Studio, Sofia

Bulgarian avant-garde artist Milosh Gavazov with his long, mysterious past, and the critic who studies his life and work, Svobodan Palich, are the ones who enable Dimitar Shopov to explore both the role of fiction in contemporary bulgarian art, and the means of expression it uses. For the creation of his fictional, Dimitar Shopov combines paintings, albums, books, installations, and performances, that he produced either on his own, or in a collaboration with Vera Mlechevska, although the press releases always only mention Milosh Gavazov. Palich’s critique, full of subtle irony, and Gavazov’s works become a method for observation and parodization of various phenomena from the country’s cultural scene, art history, and sometimes society’s attitude towards them.

Dimitar Shopov

Gavazov, 2012.

Book

Details


  • Description: cover

In this sense, Dimitar Shopov is part of the young generation of bulgarian artists, whose work is described by art expert Vladia Mihailova as saturated with ‘a kind of slight and very specific irony. It is different from the, sometimes quite open, sarcasm and cynicism found in some works from the 90s. It is not an expression of harsh criticism, but a fine sense for absurdities, paradoxes and deheroization of symbols and figures, that is articulated through humor and playfulness. When I think about it, this may generally be the most sustainable approach to criticism in Bulgaria. […] the latter is related to the pronounced performativity – to the assuming of roles, to internal actions that are not necessarily expressed in a narrative form, but rather in the form of gestures and/or campaigns…’[8]

Concerned with the issues of feminism, the image and the clichéd ideas of a woman in today’s society, Iskra Blagoeva, who belongs to the young generation of artists, to whom conceptualism and postmodernism are already established movements, employs in her work neon, found objects, text, painting and photography. Can you feel this, princess? (2013) – an installation, set up using a foam mattress and 28 epilators, is simultaneously a reference to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Princess and the Pea, and a comment on beauty standards and the development of the industry that produces them. The artist often uses female characters found in mythology and fairy tales that have stuck in collective memory, becoming some of the most popular archetypes.

Iskra Blagoeva

Can you feel this, Princess?, 2013.

Installation

Details

  • Material: foam mattress, epilators
  • Width: 80.00 cm    Height: 180.00 cm    Depth: cm   

Iskra Blagoeva

Can you feel this, Princess?, 2013.

Installation

Details

  • Material: foam mattress, epilators

Every Moon Is Brutal, Every Sun Bitter (2012), a site-specific series of large format photographs created in collaboration with photographer Mihail Novakov, brings the myth of Danaë to the gynecologist’s office, while the series of sculptures Lilith Was Here (2012) blends the image of the demon Lilith, considered to be Eve’s predecessor, with that of Virgin Mary. Svetozara Aleksandrova, another young artist, uses different media in order to explore the issues of gender identity, fashion trends and social interaction. Dimitar Solakov often uses combinations of photography, video, painting and found objects in order to create fiction and spaces that occupy the lines between socio-political commentary and personal stories.

Dimitar Solakov

, 2014.

Installation

Details


Radostin Sedevchev uses old photographs and archives in combination with paintings and text for creating new narrative and visual connections between the separate elements which the viewer can also further develop. Martina Vacheva, primarily oriented towards painting, also relies on some of postmodernism’s principles. She often cites figures from bulgarian history, pop culture and film industry and presents them with a new type of materiality, using her incredibly distinctive style.

Radostin Sedevchev

Everything is penultimate, 2017.

Installation

Details

  • Photographer: Radostin Sedevchev
  • Material: Paper, pencil, silkscreen, color pencils, post stamps, gum-bichromate, wood, glass
  • Sizes: Variable size

Many of the young artist try to extend their education in european universities and academies, others leave to persue different resident programs, while their art forms and develops in coherence with the influence and tendencies of the countires they live, study and work in. Without identifying with a certain movement, they work with the whole range of techniques and tools, incidentally, in some cases, and permanently in others, adapting them to the ideas and topics they express interest in. That’s where a ‘certain introversion’, as Vladia Mihailova describes it, is to be found. ‘They deal with the psychological world, with memory, emotions and imagination, with their desires and impulses. Maybe that is a kind of constant search for oneself and one’s place in the world.’[9]

[1]Luchezar Boyadjiev . Conceptualism with a human face. // Introduction to contemporary art. Artist talk about art, 09.03.2013. 

[2] A picture of Marcel Duchamp taken in Washington Square Park in 1965.

[3] Dimova, D. Evidence // Kultura journal, issue 4, 4. February 2005 

[4] Crimp, D. Pictures. Exhibition catalogue, 1977. Crimp’s text became crucial for the studies on postmodernism. It explores the work of artists, such as Jack Goldstein, Robert Longo and Shery Levine and instead of refers to images using the word picture – a term that holds the idea not only of a picture, but also of a painting, a photograph, and even a movie.

[5] Lyotard, J-F. The Postmodern: Explained. Sofia, 1993, p.27

[6] Lyotard, J-F. The Postmodern: Explained. Sofia, 1993, p.56

[7] Vasileva,  M. Why Duchamp. From the object to the museum and back (125 years). Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art, 8. March – 1, Aprill 2012. // Journal to the exhibition, p. 1 

[8] Dimova, L. Shifting the Layers. // Portal Kultura, 31.01.2018 

[9] Dimova, L. Shifting the Layers. // Portal Kultura, 31.01.2018