WHITE EXHIBITION 3.0
A project by Iskra Blagoeva
08.04 - 07.05. 2021
The first two editions of “White Exhibition” were solo projects by Iskra Blagoeva, but this time she uses her abilities to involve people in shared initiatives and has formed a small artistic society (of her own). At first glance, it seems as if she intends to take on the role of curator of this exhibition, but there is more to her attitude than “oh, I’ve been on the phone the whole morning” or “we can’t seem to figure out the measurements of the platform yet.” As she organizes, mixes and matches friendly, professional and family relations, through this exhibition she compensates for the lack of direct artistic communication in the so-called “artistic life”. The official tone is of no use here. The very efforts of putting this together obtain the characteristics of a work of art.
Snow, snowdrops, innocence, wedding dresses, white paintings, white neon, white sphinx, white performance, light.. We associate the phrase “winter is coming” with snow and the Christmas, but also with darkness, and the long “Night of the Middle Ages”. “White Exhibition” is held periodically, followed by “Black Paintings of Cheerful Events” – logically, there is no light without a shadow. I see white as a metaphor for the feminine, for the expectations of the woman to be immaculate and for the courage to “stain” yourself. In recent years, white clothing has become quite political. Numerous women in high positions, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, appear in public wearing white as a symbol of new beginnings, strength and solidarity with the cause of the suffragettes.
The “F” word
The “F” topic has a bad reputation mainly due to the artists who follow the F-movement word for word and try to impose some learned and insincere morality. In contrast, Iskra Blagoeva interprets gender issues and lives her life according to her own logic, correcting and revising the norms of the F-teaching as she sees fit. For example, she continues to like, even to adore men as well as to gamble them.
Nina Blagoeva / Mama (Un)perishable, 2021
Nina Blagoeva depicts a romantic landscape with picturesque ruins and she seems to contrast it with the linear handwriting of “the child”. Here, the decision of what is to be depicted appears to be a reference to the pair of basic concepts in the art history of Heinrich Wölfflin.
The invitation to her to participate in this exhibition is a middle finger to the patriarchal society in which she lived. It is an answer to a series of forbiddances in our family – first from the communist party to my grandfather to become an artist; then, from my grandfather and grandmother to my mother to study painting. Adding to it, is her forced education as an engineer and the sheer pressure of the then macho generation, all of which affected her life.
Iskra Blagoeva, Sign of Faith and Devotion, 2021
He best thing about this work is that moral categories are being rethought and there is no hint to the viewer whether to feel ferocious or outraged. The direction is clearly set by the good old symbolism of materials and means of expression – the juxtaposition between neon, cable ties, and ultra-luxurious polar fox cloak raises the question of the relationship between toxic masculinity, misogyny and cruelty to animals. It is also a question of morality – about the woman who can be bought; about the successful woman, which is immediately labeled as a bitch and deprived of her femininity; it is about condemnation in general.
Valentina Traianova, I change everything, 2011
This sound sculpture could be interpreted as a response to the viral video by Cynthia Nixon “Be a Lady They Say”. But, in fact, there is no political connotation at all. Valentina Traianova works mainly with the media of words and sounds. The repetition of the word “change” is like hypnosis for the listener, who is encouraged to interpret it freely. Besides, her voice sounds so seductive! Maybe this is the first time in which she releases the sexy potential of her voice.
Boriana Petkova, Spit it out, 2021, video
The theme of communications is recreated through perhaps a painful performance. She literally chews her kind words in the form of glass castings from the inside of her mouth. I like how it deforms her words and simultaneously distorts the delicate, pink, cliched image of the woman. Also throws in the idea of the “impenetrable sphinx” as it comes together with another work in the exhibition – Oedipus was a Cheater, 2020 by Iskra Blagoeva. She brings up the topic of emotions and restrain – “there is no problem for the woman to suffer, as long as she suffers beautifully” they say.
Mariela Gemisheva, Self-portrait, 2008
A fragment from a series of photographs taken together as a photoshoot. In this work, Mariela Gemisheva places herself as an object of observation. It recreates an outburst of aggression aimed at a completely innocent wedding dress, literally tearing it apart in front of the photographer and the audience. In this specific shot, she is completely covered, as if under a burqa, as the aggression becomes contagious even for the viewer. It awakens empathy. Now this is a pure form of “militant feminism”, yet, very finely presented.
Iskra Blagoeva and Daniela Radeva, Greetings from the women punks for the Section of women artists from the Society of Women with Higher Education, 2021
Work in two parts – painting and the current text, both co-authored. Let’s just add that this is not a professional experiment of the kind “switching places”, but an attempt to achieve the ultimate degree of intimacy between the artist and a curator.
Stela Vasileva, Royal Candle, 2021 and Vertical Foundation, 2021
So far no one has commented on the sense of architecture in some of the drawings and, more often, in installations by Stela Vasileva. Here, her instinct to “build” becomes apparent in the juxtaposition of softness and hardness as well as in the constructive problem she solves in order to balance the glass rod. At first reading, the subtext of her work seems to compromise the femininity of the exhibition with its vertical orientation. Yet, by no means we will admit to it, because we do not want to remember the expression “masculine painting” used as a compliment to women artists during socialism by their colleagues of the opposite sex. The depicted flower, known as “Mullein”, “Sheep’s tale” or “Royal candle” has a hairy an unbranched stem, and its roots penetrate deep into the soil. According to folk medicine, it helps to alleviate a long list of bodily sufferings, among which, but not only, “hoarse voice”.
Simeon Simeonov, untitled, 2021
I see the “feminine” in most of Simeon Simeonov’s works – pure, minimalist, white canvas, white silicone. For me, this is the perfect encapsulating work in the exhibition. The qualities of the artist are obvious, especially for viewers with refined taste plus a sensory attitude to perception.
Alexander Gabrovski, Memento Mori, poetry, 2021
"Back to white", performance, 2021
Alex is a poet and an artist, and, so to speak, “The chosen one” in the exhibition, as a representative of a whole new generation of authors. A new being, not a “man” with all the aggression the word entitles. Intelligent, well-read, sensitive and unburdened by all the shit, which occupies us as women in this exhibition. He participates with his wise, but at the same time, childish poetry. In his performance, his body will be an object of observation for women’s glances. His role is to underline the opposition between male and female as ridiculous.
Iskra Blagoeva and Daneila Radeva