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  1. Invite by lesley Moore

    Photo 2: by N.Mihov

    Photo 3: still from video, by N. Georgieva

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    Title: 'Socialisms Material Residue', Legitimacy & (re)appropriation of Bulgaria’s socialist monuments

    Artists:

    - Krassimir Terziev

    - Nikola Mihov

    - Neli Georgieva

    - Missirkov & Bogdanov

    Initiator:

    - Marie Bromander

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    About the project/exhibition:

    The project ”Socialism’s Material Residue – legitimacy  & (re)appropriation of Bulgaria’s socialist monuments” focuses on Bulgaria’s monumental socialist sculptures and their use in Bulgaria today, since they have outlived the political period that they were supposed to represent. “Socialism’s Material Residue” seeks to explore the issues of spatial discourse, politics, legitimacy and (re)appropriation surrounding existing socialist monuments in a post-socialist era. Do socialist monuments still have a function today, after the political transition? What is the role of socialist monuments in the contemporary urban and non-urban environment? Have individuals, artists, public institutions or civic (re)organisations appropriated these monumental socialist structures in recent years? And, taking a broader perspective, can the discursive and artistic polemic surrounding these public monuments in Bulgaria today, have significance for other societies, both post-socialist and those without a socialist past, in the sphere of spatial use and re-use.

    Context:

    After the political transition of 1989-1991, the question of what to do with the socialist monuments became an important issue in post-socialist countries, not only whether to pull them down but what to do with them after pulling them down. In the face of a changing social, economic and ideological dynamic, these countries – though eager to reflect this new reality – had great difficulties in deciding exactly how to do so. The arguments and the debates that took place, and are still ongoing, reflect a sharp divide over socialism’s meanings and experiences, and how to deal with its material heritage. Many of these monuments are still standing today and are not recognised by the state, therefore they remain, in effect, ownerless.

    The proposal for this project is to approach visual artists from Bulgaria working on different aspects and offering diverse artistic interpretations concerning issues of legitimacy of socialist monuments and their role in the contemporary urban and non-urban space in post-socialist Bulgaria. ”Socialism’s Material Residue” aims at exploring the relationship between the contemporary art scene in Bulgaria and the discourse about the role of socialism’s material heritage in a post-socialist reality. Moreover, the initiators of this project believe that the polemic surrounding the destruction, use or re-appropriation of these politicised megaliths provide a tantalising case-study in the discourse surrounding the use and re-use of public art and public space in other societies worldwide.

    Exhibition / lectures:

    “Socialism’s Material Residue” will be presented in the form of a visual exhibition, comprising photography and video-installations, and a short series of lectures surrounding this intriguing phenomenon in particular, as well as focussing on the practice in the field of artistic research and the notion of (re)appropriation of public space. As such, the project intends to compound both creative visual expression (i.e. visual art) on the one hand, and academic analysis (I.e. social science) on the other. The lectures will be provided by the initiator of the project, and academics from the University of Sofia (BUL), the Rietveld Academy and the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

    Marie Bromander, the initiator of this project, is an art historian who is currently finishing her thesis in cultural analysis on the function and use of socialist monuments in contemporary Bulgaria. Bromander will provide the academic research supported by visual material of her own on Bulgaria’s socialist monuments and the polemic that surrounds them.

    In addition, “Socialism’s Material Residue” will be showing works by five Bulgarian contemporary artists specialised in film and video art as well as photography. The selected works explore the concepts of public space, history, memory and identity.

    About the artists:

    Krassimir Terziev (1969 Dobrich, Bulgaria) is a trained painter who also produces photographs, installations and computer mediated works. However, it is the moving image that has proven to be his most expressive artistic idiom. He is acclaimed for his works in experimental film and video art, and is co-director of XFILM festival for Experimental Film, Video & New Media in Sofia. Terziev’s work has been shown on television, media art festivals (Impakt, Utrecht and Video positive, Liverpool), Group shows (NEW VIDEO, NEW EUROPE, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and TATE Modern London & ST. Lois MOCA, etc). Terziev will be showing his video work “MONU-MENTAL” (2011): an observation of a public space that is popular among the youth in Sofia.
     

    Nikola Mihov (1982 Sofia, Bulgaria), photographer and video artist. He has held solo exhibitions in Sofia, Paris, Zagreb and London. He has also been participating in numerous international group exhibitions. The artist received the “Photo School Award” at the 6th international photography biennial “Phodar” and the Award for Photojournalism from the Bulgarian Photographic Academy annual contest. He will show his photographic series “Forget your past” where he reveals 14 of the most impressive socialist era monuments in Bulgaria. Mihov traveled around Bulgaria photographing and exploring the history of the monuments that are still standing and investigated their present state today.

    Neli Georgieva (1973 Varna, Bulgaria).  Georgieva works with film and video art, and is actively involved in the debate surrounding the meaning and place of socialist monuments in contemporary society.  She co-founded the art-group “Images-a-Mots”, she followed the ETNA experimental film academy.  She also presented “Plusieurs Bouches, Plusieurs Langues” at the Gravity Art Fest at the Red House in Sofia. She will show her documentary “Trace (1)” from 2008. The documentary focuses on cultural memory, identity and how to integrate history with the present.

    Missirkov (1971 Sofia, Bulgaria) & Bogdanov (1971 Varna, Bulgaria). Their work mainly deals with unreal situations in everyday life, which are evocative of borderline situations and question experiences that surpass our imagination of normality. Good examples are the internationally renowned documentary films “Georgi and the Butterflies” and “The Boy Who Was a King” by director Andrey Paounov. They have exhibited in solo shows as well as in major group exhibitions. Missirkov & Bogdanov are an artist duo who work primarily within the realm of manipulated and staged photography. Their work “Weekend 2126” combines monumental socialist settings and absurdist futuristic imagery, thereby reflecting on the possible future imaginations of Bulgaria’s soc-realistic past.

    About the initiator:

    Marie Bromander, the initiator of this project, is an art historian from Sweden, currently living in Amsterdam. Her background is within the contemporary art scene. She has been studying art history and she has worked at several art institutions in both Sweden and in the Netherlands. At the moment, she is writing her masters thesis in cultural analysis on the function and use of socialist monuments in Bulgaria today.