Thursday, March 27, 2008

The project "Video Salon" (March 07-21, 2008) is having its third edition in the promising French Galerija10m2 in Sarajevo. This year it features debuts and Bulgarian participation. The video project platform is based on the established framework of cooperation among an international curator team. The concept is to represent on an annual basis various artists from the Balkan region, Central and Western Europe, as well as Asia.
A dozen of curators have been invited to this video exhibition that coincides with the 24-th edition of the "Sarajevo Winter" International Festival. They are presenting about 200 artists from 30 countries. The concept of this year's project has no strict thematic or technical parameters that the co-organizers or the authors invited by them should stick to. The structure that the project platform is built on is extremely free and open. The focus is rather on presenting a large number of various artistic stands thus raising questions related to the understanding and the boundaries of the visual, the options and diversity of media.
The Bulgarian selection titled "Red" includes works by Kalin Serapionov, Ivan Moudov, Daniela Kostova (Troy, New York), Stefan Nikolaev (Sofia/Paris), Boryana Rossa, Ventzislav Zankov, Vladimir Mitrev (Berlin), Nina Kovacheva and Valentin Stefanov (Sofia/Paris) and the exclusive participation of Mariyana Vasileva (Berlin). Prioritized as regards the selection of authors and works has been the intention to acquaint the countries from the region and the constant flow of viewers in the gallery and the French Cultural Center with some of the best and most active representatives of the young generation of Bulgarian artists. The main goal is to present the possibly most complete picture of the current state of contemporary Bulgarian art on the basis of ten varying artistic profiles. In order to have a relatively full and true vision of the range and quality of the Bulgarian artistic Diaspora the selection includes heterogeneous in terms of sensitivity, direction and level of visual provocation, and also not so young, but already emblematic for Bulgarian contemporary art, authors. Some of those are artists living and working in Bulgaria, others are rather unpopular in this country but making a career abroad, and still others live both in Bulgaria and abroad.
The selected works aim at representing the type and direction of visual thinking developed in correlation to the location that has become an indirect cause or "engine" for the generated ideas, its own specifics and topicality; or, in other words - to display the level of cultural exposure of the artist, of the perceived and reflected social aspects of environment.
The inner structure of the video compilation is built on a freer principle.The works that were presented for selection took on the function of a self-forming organism. Selected for the exhibition were videos that on the one hand could create a natural meaningful and aesthetic transition one to another, and on the other - could set apart different groups of their own nature and topics. A leading criterion though was the desire that the selected works should disclose the intellectual potential and the creative capabilities of the artists themselves.
Nadia Timova, curator
Video Selection "Red"Daniela Kostova's video "Frame" (2000) was created while the author still lived in Bulgaria. It raises essential questions related to the tiredness from the mundane, its baleful habits and the automatism of choices that we prove to make as if by the way. The work is an attempt at reconstructing our own (consciously chosen) reality that due to its immanent cyclic character turns out to be totally unrecognizable and non-segmentable. Despite some premised feminist nuances her video treats general human norms of behaviour.
Boryana Rossa takes part in the project with two works - "The Last Valve", (2004) and "Back and Forth" (1999). "The Last Valve" is a complex work which as the author says, represents to the fullest extent her personality and her entire artistic view so far. The video documents a performance where Boryana sews up her vulva in a demonstrative manner and this act seems scandalous and repulsive to many. The truth is that this is a very "happy" and successful work since, despite the big number of contradicting references that it provokes, the artist, "victimizing" herself and her biological "function", manages to synthesize one of the main aspects of the Ultrafuturo platform. Her other earlier work "Back and Forth" is built on the template of the stereo card but it has a quite more serious and profound message. The vision of the author herself and the "blurred" echoing sound arrangement (her childish voice recorded in a moment of tender emotion for her mother when the two year-old Boryana pours out her daughterly feelings in a small poem) stir sympathy first and then a feeling of absurd. Using this audio-visual "wink" which is actually a temporal and meaningful layering the author provides viewers with the possibility to compare and give a new meaning to the present and the future, their existing parallels, expectations and crossings.
Kalin Serapionov takes part with two works - "Why Women?" (2004) and "You Get It?" (2004) presenting his different view and disproving in his own way existing prejudices as regards sexism and the needless entailing opposition. In "Why Women?" the author checks the self-esteem and reflexes of Bulgarian women. The situation shows a "street hooligan" shooting from above with eggs at innocent women. Oddly enough, the artistic research indicates a sad statistics - none of the women manages to get out of her role of victim and defend herself honourably. The reaction of all women is the same - the biological shells cause only timid and conciliatory running away from the "battle-field". A comically presented fact which is at the same time noted with a certain bit of grievance. In the same impartial manner "You Get It?" tells about a rather common situation - a young couple have a long "elucidating" dialog that does not get the desired meaningful result. The "impartial" work aims at provoking adequately impartial and yet empathic moods. The phenomenon of "banal and meaningless dialog" is a problematic stage that almost every intimate relationship goes through. This work cannot but simply "get in tune" with the experience of each viewer.
Ivan Moudov also takes part with two works - "Traffic Control" (2001) and "14'13 Minutes Priority" (2005). Moudov is one of the best and most topical contemporary Bulgarian authors. In all his works he manages to focus on the essence of trivial situations from our everyday life and to examine them from their least expected and markedly comical side. Notwithstanding the matters that he deals with (his intervention is usually merciless but particularly nice), his talent of being funny and witty is one of the best-winning clues in contemporary art. It is not enough to think of a way of manipulation. It should look like you have mixed up somewhat unwittingly the rules of the game and with a big doze of artistry at that - simply to be forgiven, voluntarily and with a smile.
Not without a smile but driven by sympathy and sentiment Nina Kovacheva and Valentin Stefanov shoot their documentary video "Two Days' Distance" (2007). The video is actually an improvised interview taken from an old woman and an old man who have come to downtown Paris from a far-away place in their motherland and living on begging and rebeck-playing. The interview puts together a collage of two totally alien one to another models (personalized and depersonalized), demonstrating the background of the contexts that have given rise to them. The feelings and thoughts that the video provokes cover a wide range of analogies and senseless evaluations that they bring forth.
Ventzislav Zankov participates with one of his latest videos "Still Life" (2006). The work also titled "The Artist's Fridge" is a means used by the artist to try and see himself from a different angle. The fridge is "a diary, food, days, the days described through food". The video consists of hundreds or thousands of similar stills documenting the everyday contents of Ventzi's fridge. This is a still life slightly vibrating from the insignificant changes that are happening. The "diagram" of this consumption is a sign not only of the biological but also of the spiritual need of man. Seen from that angle, the "image" of living points to something frightening - we hardly realize the monotony of everyday life, the depressing similarity of the days (the eaten food) making up our life, otherwise motivated by huge strivings and expectations.
Mariyana Vasileva's video "Jumping Man" (2000-2005) shows a man in a suit making somersaults in the air, jumping on an invisible for the viewer trampoline. Each jump is a metaphor of man's attempt to out-jump himself and the routine of his everyday life. In the artist's view, contemporary society is full of jumping people who constantly repeat their actions with the hope to out-jump themselves each time by making their "jump" even better. "Jumping Man", "Minouk, le poisson peintre" (2003) by Stefan Nikolaev and "Autopainting" (2004) by Vladimir Mitrev form a particular group of videos that indicate a different visual "school". All three works lack narrative that would otherwise burden the laconic and extremely clear image and message. With their purity the videos provoke an impression of overbearing aesthetics. The "school" is the masterful insertion of a message in an art character whose final synthesis is equally balanced.
"Minouk" is Stefan Nikolaev's goldfish placed in an unusual and extreme for the more sensitive viewer situation. Within 17 minutes, with a serious attitude and realizing its own mission, Minouk precisely "stirs" red pigment in its small bowl, being careful where exactly to place the pigment. At the work's final stage the fish is hard to distinguish in the deep red water - which is also a slightly depressing sight. The references that have been made so far on this video's basis stretch it to several different directions - the art trend "Fluxus", the hypnosis from the aesthetic sight and the eternal argument about the nature of creative work.
The video "Autopainting" of Vladimir Mitrev shows a toy sport automobile whose cracked reservoir is full of red paint. The small automobile is moving backwards outlining in red its own axis of movement. When the paint is over the artist' hand appears in the still pouring in some more red "fuel". Gradually the car starts losing balance and going out of the outlined trajectory. By this act the artist comments on our egocentric behaviour in the socium, with a balanced sense of irony. The backward movement and the red are for him symbols of blind aggression:
[in proggress]

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