My Dear Provincialist at Swimming Pool

Artists: Valko Chobanov, Krassimira Kirova, Dimitar Shopov, Trifon Tashev, Martina Vacheva, Ina Valentinova

Exhibition title: My Dear Provincialist

Curated by: Viktoria Draganova and Valko Chobanov

Venue: Swimming Pool, Sofia, Bulgaria

Date: April 12 – June 18, 2017

Photography: Yana Lozeva, all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Swimming Pool, Sofia

Last year, I loosely messaged few of you, proposing to meet. Soon we sat together – spending a few evenings on the benches in front of Crystal Club, later gathering in Dimitar’s studio in Plovdiv. Fine, let’s do a show, you told me, but all together, as a group. And, we’d call ourselves “Provincialists”.

*

There is this all-pervading question of belonging, a desire to be part of something greater than oneself. It is an emotional condition, longing. One belongs to a family, group of people, religion. One can also belong to a region or nation. In the case of Bulgaria, this happens to be a distressing thing. There is a general absence of a sense of community, which is grounded in both a troubled relationship with history as well as the impossibility of imagining a joint future. The lack of a functioning democracy is only one of its consequences.

More recently, I seem to recognize some curious engagement with our country’s constant bizarre state of affairs, its mysterious imaginary, its undone present.

Street protests, civil initiatives, new political parties; all of them inspire a sense of worthiness far away from vulgar nationalism or identity essentialisms. All sustained by a will to be present, and affective.

Are these the feverish days of a potential, differentiated, coming “us”?

*

Zooming in, zooming out. There are only few art spaces in the country, barely commercial galleries, no contemporary art museum, no art press. As it stands, we continue to vanish within the centrifugal powers of globalism. Well, this is the tricky side of liberalism: its basic rights are not equally distributed as they prioritize only the few. Within the art world, as David Hodge & Hamed Yousefi wrote in “Provincialism perfected”, such uneven development is all over.

What, then, if “provincialism” implies the wrong observation on people and contexts not being adaptable, manageable, saleable? What if “provincialism” is a stance against participating in the networks of a globalized world for the reason of staying with and belonging to something, which may even be awkward, irrational, weak? If it is the effort to work out its uncertainties and vulnerabilities?

*

The art works, most of them produced for the show, reflect this condition. Using traditional technique, materials and handcraft, they bring out the unfinished, drafted, fragmented. The positions grounded in the examination of personal memories and their effects; in notions of intimacy and shame; in what one might find embarrassing, droll. Are we actually attracted by the unconscious side of provincialism?

*

I guess, there is always a province within our bodies and souls too. A realm that is not accessible through principles and not susceptible to adaptions. It could be a spirited, enlivening experience to enter it.

This is where we grow resilience.

“My Dear Provincialist” is organised by Viktoria Draganova, together with Valko Chobanov. An exhibition guide with more detailed information on the participating artists and artworks will be available soon. With “My Dear Provincialist” begins our year-long research into the ethical, social and imaginary bounds of community, which will continue in this Summer with screenings, performances and art project presentations.

Installation view “My Dear Provincialist” at Swimming Pool, Sofia, 2017

Installation view “My Dear Provincialist” at Swimming Pool, Sofia, 2017

Installation view “My Dear Provincialist” at Swimming Pool, Sofia, 2017

Trifon Tashev, Series of Children Drawings (policeman, basketball player, tennis player, sumo wrestler, Chinese man, singer from Prodigy, stray dog, bulldog, German shepherd), 2015-2016. Needle-felted wool

Installation view “My Dear Provincialist” at Swimming Pool, Sofia, 2017

Installation view “My Dear Provincialist” at Swimming Pool, Sofia, 2017

Martina Vacheva, Amphora head of slut, 2017. Crystalline glaze ceramics

Martina Vacheva, Amphora head of slut, 2017. Crystalline glaze ceramics

Ina Valentinova, Тhings i’ve learned: honey badger don’t care, 2017. Hand-dyed wool, cotton and acrylic yarn

Valko Chobanov, Asuka best waifu, 2017. Latex

Valko Chobanov, Asuka best waifu, 2017. Latex

Installation view “My Dear Provincialist” at Swimming Pool, Sofia, 2017

Dimitar Shopov, World summit-Cannes, 2016. Schmincke oil on canvas, print

Dimitar Shopov, World summit-New Village, 2016. Oil painting project, A4 print

Trifon Tashev, Kami, 2014-2017. Needle-felted wool

Trifon Tashev, Rodopa, 2014-2017. Needle-felted wool, sound

Trifon Tashev, Rodopa, 2014-2017. Needle-felted wool, sound

Trifon Tashev, Rodopa, 2014-2017. Needle-felted wool, sound

Trifon Tashev, Rodopa, 2014-2017. Needle-felted wool, sound

Trifon Tashev, Rodopa, 2014-2017. Needle-felted wool, sound

Dimitar Shopov, The Golden Apple, 2017. Fibran and tempera

Dimitar Shopov, Baba Jaga House, 2017. Fibran and tempera

Dimitar Shopov, The Golden Apple, 2017. Fibran and tempera

Installation view “My Dear Provincialist” at Swimming Pool, Sofia, 2017

Ina Valentinova, Things i’ve learned: I look bad with make up, 2016. Screen-print with cut paper stencils on cotton fabric

Kraismira Kirova, Cakes, 2016-2017 (installation view)

Kraismira Kirova, Cakes, 2016-2017 (installation view)

Krasimira Kirova, Cakes, 2016-2017 (detail). Sugar paste, glitter

Krasimira Kirova, Cakes, 2016-2017 (detail). Sugar paste, glitter

Krasimira Kirova, Cakes, 2016-2017 (detail). Sugar paste, glitter

Martina Vacheva, Golden King #1, 2017. Crystalline glaze ceramics

Martina Vacheva, Golden King #1, 2017. Crystalline glaze ceramics

Martina Vacheva, Golden King #2, 2017. Crystalline glaze ceramics

Martina Vacheva, Golden King #2, 2017. Crystalline glaze ceramics

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