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Photography exhibition by:

Ivan Stefanov

18/01/2023 - 10/02/2023

Opening: 18.01, 18:00


Ivan Stefanov  I  Antizen

18.01-10.02.2023  I  Opening: 18.01.2023, 18:00


Historically, the photographic image has always been credited with the understanding of its certain authenticity. This traditional understanding of the univocity of the photographic image rejects its overlapping characteristics and fails to account for the fragmentation of space and its meanings. Ivan Stefanov's ten medium-format film photographs from the Antizen series reject this traditional notion of photography. The theme and title of the exhibition Antizen are aimed at the hidden essence of everyday life and material sophistication of modern man - his disharmony, disturbing desires and social arrangements, opposed to the harmony and balance of Zen-models in Eastern philosophy.


In his research, the author constructs a new state of the photograph, where the digital post-production of the image destabilizes it as a record of the state of reality. These new possibilities of the photograph, defined by Susan Sontag as the "transporting role of the image", reveal different potential overlays and generate multiple perspectives. Ivan Stefanov restores the status of our familiar everyday life by projecting on it new, apparently unknown meanings, determined by speculating on the unnatural, uncomfortable situations of the individual in the urban environment. Banal existence is transformed into a new, almost documentary reality, where the author constructs visual images determined by a specific cultural norm. The reality that the characters in these photographs face generates a new historical reality, involving a complex formation of codes of behavior, rules, social norms, gestures, etc. The re/production of these photographic images and the appeal of the images themselves reinforce the significance and the impact of this medium. The viewer witnesses this new space, which is not measured solely by its technical parameters, but by the complete reconfiguration of reality, which leads to a change of perception and a new understanding of the idea of the image.


The photographic medium itself in this case is aimed at its self-reflection. This is the "cinematic photography" defined by Jeff Wall, in which events are carefully staged and have an "almost documentary" impact. The cinematographic photographs in the exhibition are composed like classical paintings, bearing the marks of the objectivity of the happening. They are almost documentary, but at the same time preserve the physical nature of the medium. This is also a new attitude of photography toward painting. In the presented hybrid, composite images, photography and painting merge into works of art that we can define as a shift of communication and a purposeful creation of a multi-layered image. Ivan Stefanov does not overlap the documentary, but relates to it, speculating on its credibility. He does not represent specific situations, but a representation of those situations. It could be said that this is the end of objectivism in photography. A view that paralyzed photography rather than provided any clarity about its possibilities, which leads us to Wall's understanding that "we can now see the possibility of a photography evolving as photography."


Genadi Gatev


With the support of the National Culture Fund.

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