site.btaBulgaria to Present "The Neighbours" Project at Venice Biennale in 2024

Bulgaria to Present "The Neighbours" Project at Venice Biennale in 2024
Bulgaria to Present "The Neighbours" Project at Venice Biennale in 2024
The Neighbours project, with which Bulgaria will participate at the Venice Biennale of art this year, was presented at a press conference at BTA's MaxiM Hall on January 4, 2024 (BTA Photo)

Bulgaria will present The Neighbours project at the Venice Biennale this year, was announced at a press conference in BTA's MaxiM Hall on Thursday. Authors of the project are artists Krasimira Butseva and Julian Shehiryan, historian and documentarian Lilia Topuzova, while the curator is Vasil Vladimirov. A total of 17 projects took part in the competition for the national participation in the Biennale.

Bulgaria's pavilion this year will be in Sala Tiziano at Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli. 

Vladimirov said The Neighbours project was initiated by the artists. It tells the story of Bulgarians who were victims of political violence and is the product of an in-depth study of the history of repression, exploring the memory of political violence bequeathed to Bulgarians by the communist past, the curator noted. The project is of great importance and value not only for the subject it deals with, Vladimirov added.

At the heart of this installation are the reconstructed homes of repressed people. Interviews were conducted with people who were victims of repression. What distinguishes The Neighbors is the invitation to viewers not to be mere passive observers, but to witness the experiences of those who have been declared foreigners in their own country, the curator pointed out. He added that the project is on a universal theme, answering the questions of what and how people remember in the context of traumatic experiences - how they talk about them and how they remember them.

The installation consists of three rooms. The first one is a living room where pictures and sounds from the camps in Lovech and Belene are projected. The second shows people who are not ready to speak on the issue. There the sounds are more abstract. In the third room, the kitchen, all the furniture is painted white, there is no speech, absolutely everything is brought to abstraction and sound. It is for people who have not had a chance to speak - people who have died or have no memories. "Not just something you see, but experience," explained Vladimirov.

The installation has already been presented outside Bulgaria - in Toronto and Princeton and has been very well received. It was also shown at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 2022. The curator noted that the project has been upgraded for the Biennale. The space will not be as divided into three rooms, but will be more fluid. There will also be more interviews. All will be translated into English and will be voiced by actors to maintain the authenticity of the expression, he explained. This project has been done several times before and has been quite well received by critics, he added.

Butseva said the team has been working on this project for years. They wondered how to present the topic without bringing the historical context. The theme of the biennale has a double meaning. It touches on the question of what the very word foreigners can mean. "These people are marginalized, separated from society. These people have been separated and alienated. They have been sent to camps. Even with the advent of democracy, they are still alienated, but in a different way," she explained.

"When we are working with an archive that has been deliberately destroyed, when we are facing silence, then we have to have other means for the pain to be expressed. And this is one of those means," said Topuzova. 

Shehiryan added that the goal was to create a space where one can enter and experience the archive through objects and through the senses.

/NZ/

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By 12:40 on 18.05.2024 Today`s news

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