Anthropology of Everyday Life
Anthropology of Everyday Life project
Anthropology of Everyday Life intro
Anthropology of Everyday Life projects
Anthropology of Everyday Life interpretation
Anthropology of Everyday Life reconsructions
Every act fact or pattern of behaviour may be taken as equivocal (at least). Beyond dry signs the plane of meaning lies spread out. Understanding and interpretation. Appearance is but a torn skin and the slime of life is throbbing from behind with fluid frivolity. I am getting absorbed into the sticky obscurity. I give up deciding about my future - it is still ahead. I give up defining myself - I am still here. I leave the past where it is. As I am losing the sense of things I know something has started for me. That is my point of departure, because I feel free and lost in the labyrinth of ambiguities, of virtual meanings. Appearances cast quick glances in the pool of contexts.
Not exteriors only turn out to be visible. A scalpel is cutting into stinking illusions with burning painfulness, and deeper - castrating wishes, cutting out eyelids of empty eyes: the scalpel of nihilism. A Whore and Madonna annihilate and become one, memory and hope annihilate and become one, banality and poetry annihilate and become one. White light is burning the retina, radioactivity gives birth to mutants. I am moving through polished human shadows. Trying to colour them with a kit of paints. The slippery surface gives me no chance. I keep trying.
1995 V. Zankov
Anthropology of Everyday Life
Anthropology of Everyday Life
Some Possible Reconstructions
Points of Departure: everyday life - religion
everyday life - sex
everyday life - TV
everyday life - death
A. a videosculpture “The Last Supper” - reconstruction and performance of an event that possibly happened (that’s what the Bible says) through the introduction of modern TV technologies (TV screens, video players). The pattern of communication and the language are updated, the meaning distorted and perverse.
(detailed description of the project is enclosed);
B. a videoinstallation “Alice in the Mirror World” - is it possible to find the face of God in the faces of his exalted religious followers? How about your own face?
(detailed description of the project is enclosed);
A. videoinstallation and performance “The Ecstasy of St. Theresa”. Reconstructing the ecstasy scene - a way to make safe sex. Screened love. The TV screen in its capacity of electronic condom. The electronic TV phallus: is possible; it is acceptable; intimate; it works. Yet it is not real, it is not vulnerable, it is sterile: it is an image, a derivative of flesh rather than the flesh itself. Reconstructing the ecstasy scene with the TV screen as mediator. The ecstasy - erotic experience with a fantastic image introduced, a result of the vow of abstinence. Suggests a particular sexual experience:
‘Then I saw the angel beside me...there was a golden arrow with a fiery edge in his hand. He seemed to stick the arrow into my heart many times and I felt how it made its way into my body. My suffering was so intense that wails escaped from my lips, and the pain I felt was so incomparably sweet that I wished there were no end to my pangs’
A. image of desires “Who is talking”, videoinstallation. The lips Of Betina Champoeva ( a popular TV speaker and beauty) as an archaeological find. The lips of the TV speaker will be shot with a camera from the TV screen, so that her lips, filling up the whole screen, should move at slowed down speed. The image is vague.
Description: a male voice, coming from the screen (installed among archaeological finds) is talking in a blurred and rambling manner, his voice now and then dying out, getting lost among radio jamming, interfering with other voices...
back B. a videosculpture “Reconstruction of Homo Sapience: 20th c.”. Accomplishing the collection of archeological findings: the distinctive features of human social and sexual behaviour are obviously getting blurred. On the other hand the phenomenon of Television dematerialises and annihilates sexuality by creating electronic objects of desire. TV absorbs us in virtual worlds and makes us feel them as our real, all-encompassing, precise and exhaustive world picture. What we lose, in the effort (and will) to trust this reality, is our ability for human communication.
"Television signifies the body-becomes-electronic, the body-without-sex, it is a practice for a role in the world of no-body."
Reconstruction of Homo Sapience: 20th c.
Description: Four TV screens, arranged in a column one over the other, display different parts of a human body, so that the four screens put the body together: standing still, with hands let loose beside the hips. The whole body comprises of four different fragments, each of them recorded and displayed with a separate video recorder. The body is slowly turning round. In the beginning it is a dressed male body, which turning round and round systematically loses parts of its clothes. When the part below the waist is already undressed it turns out that in stead of the male genitals under the clothes, pubic hair and shapely female legs appear. At the same time the two screens above display the torso of a man, dressed in shirt. The metamorphoses of the body go through a variety of stages:
a nude male body that suddenly acquires female breasts - a nude female body - a dressed female body until it comes back to its initial image. A hybrid hermaphrodite is composed, 25 years old (average age
Description: Seven TV screens, arranged in a row, first display the picture of slowly moving clouds, lit by the afternoon sun, the blue sky around. A naked woman is calmly sitting on the TV in the middle, her body covered with airy transparent garment. Slowly almost unnoticeable the woman starts moving her knees apart. Her body is twisting forward, her shoulders thrust back, her breasts come out of the end of her white cover, which is slipping down her body. Slowly. At the same time the vague image of an erected phallus appears on the TV screen below her, gradually fills in the screen and turns upward. Next comes the moment of ejaculation, played at slower speed than normal. The woman is sitting with her eyes closed and her head, thrust back. The clouds on the other TV screens are now replaced by a face in a close up, displayed at different angles by the different TV screens. The lips of that face pronounce the words of St. Theresa in different intonation, pitch and diction so that her words are being woven into a blurred throbbing whisper, dying out softly. The woman slowly takes her initial position. Tension relief. A well-known TV speaker on display, wishing us good night, wishing love tonight, a clock comes up, ticking the time left to midnight and to the end of the program.
Headlines follow: screened sex... high-tech sex...safe sex... happy end.
‘Simulacrum does not hide Truth -
Truth can guard the lack of truth
on its own.
Simulacrum is Truth’
A structuralist interpretation of ‘The Ecclesiast’
The Last Supper
When a few years ago I decided to reconstruct a part from the Holy Bible, known as “The Last Supper” using modern means of expression (like videotapes, monitors, Videorecorders) I was aware of the difficulties that may arise from the technical part only. It turned out that these difficulties can be bridged over - and in fact they were. I had to write down and record on a separate videotape any of the thirteen dialogues, so that when they are simultaneously played I will have a normal table conversation as a result: with its main theme (or leading thread) taken from the Bible and opened up. I did not have any idea at that time that a similar reconstruction will inevitably clash two phenomena against each other, either of which is powerful enough to influence the world and to pretend ruling over it: the television and the Holy Bible (both having transcended their original purpose).
The Holy Bible, on the basis of words and using words, growing into narratives, following events and describing stories, stands close to fiction yet rises above writings with their typical limitations and becomes the Book of Books; It is an instruction, it creates and suggests norms. It is more real and more to the truth, It is more authentic than Life is in its manifestations, and Life can only interpret it with a view to its needs and when the time comes to.
The question is that Television also prescribes norms and suggests them in a way that is at least as much convincing. It has developed form a witness, a recorder, a transmitter of reality into our all-seeing “third eye” that makes everything to be accessible here and now on live. The particular, personal, daily life becomes part of the life of the big TV family: the world. And we have to obey the norms that it prescribes and we have to follow the unvoiced moral advice if we want to belong to that hiper-reality, that thousands of TV cameras produce every moment. We look straight into the face of “GOOD” and “EVIL”. No questions are to be asked. We believe all things are true. We follow the events with the eyes of a witness. We follow fashion, sports, the black chronicles, the gossip, the wars, and sinking deep in this hiper-realistic and hypnotic reality we turn into its consequence....
The question how to make a combination between these two phenomena, different in the way they function, yet similar in their intentions and final goals, needs no longer an answer. Because this final goal is Salvation: to be saved from our selves dissolving all personal features into TV or religious dictates.
There was one more question that had already found its practical solution, but I still did not know the answer. How to make a stylistically coherent whole out of a sculpturally defined image on the one hand, a text that is derivative from the Biblical text on the other and a video image, derivative of the TV image. This last sentence already provides the answer: into a derivative (to use the terms in the Differential mathematics) with a view to Time as Historical concept.
I expanded the Biblical text so that it adopted modern nuances and meanings: I made it trite. Additionally I introduced the aesthetics of the all-seeing TV eye into the Eve of Crucifixion and destroyed the whiff of fate and destiny coming out of it and encompassing the whole episode.
I feel that Leonardo pursued similar intentions with the introduction of theatrical devices into this scene at large. The ostentatious gestures, the displayed composition, the way the table was placed - the action is as if performed on a scene. Suddenly time disappears and the figures freeze in their most telling gestures and reactions, theatrically performing the embarrassment and the excitement that the words of Christ brought. Genuinely trite and aiming at the core of his time.
I have to come out of the triteness, because it has already turned into an indispensable feature of the TV imagery. I am forced into introducing mythic quality in the communication between the thirteen TV screens around a long table. I can not rely on the text either: it is almost depersonalised. The funny thing, the unease, the unusual, the mystic quality is already contained in the communication among the thirteen TV screens that display the image of one and the same person: thirteen TV sets that chat with each other around a table with white spread on it: a single face resolved into thirteen images is talking to...himself. Self-isolation, Self-sufficiency - the visitor feels isolated, he feels a stranger and unwelcome, nobody invites him to this funny, almost incomprehensible and secret dialogue among TV sets...
The texts that follow this one have been written for several years now. They differ in style, expression and approach: these are rather fragments than parts of a whole. I will hardly do without any of them. Complementing one another they build up the puzzle that I called “The Last Supper”.
Sofia, 1995 Ventsislav Zankov
The Last Supper
'...language can hardly present thought at once in its coherence: it has to set it out in parts and in accordance with a certain linear continuity...'
Possible Interpretations of the videosculpture “The Last Supper”:
1. Getting over the linear temporal continuity of the videoinstallation through composing a branching and stratified language labyrinth, limited in the framework of the temporary existence of the installation ( its limited duration in time lends completeness to its temporal and spatial image and defines it as a sculpture image).
Getting over this separate, concrete and linear expression through simultaneous matching of dialogues, that provide possible interpretations of one and the same theme and that overlap and grow out of one another.
2. Illustration of a possible ramifications of personality. The multiplied image of the “speaker” (the only participant in the growing language labyrinth) builds up an enormous monologue out of the dialogues among himself and his images. This monologue is in fact a typical feature of the psychology of any individual, simultaneity being inherent to human psychological existence. When the balance between simultaneity and discrepancy is distorted by the pathologic growth ramifications the individual faces schizophrenic experience.
3. Political Interpretations: the conventionality of communication keeps balancing at the seeming barrier beyond which sense is being lost. The variety of levels and meanings of the linguistic expression of meaning cause its dissolving in the labyrinth of formal and virtual meanings.
The videoinstallation “The Last Supper” transcends the boundary, over which communication presents obviously a simulacrum.
4. Reconstruction of a virtual supper (present or future and by all means secret*) on the basis of TV technologies. (Food and having supper are both a symbol and a token).
"Electronenstrahl wirft via Bildschirm die Bilder auf den Betrachter, der Zuschauer wird selbst zum Bildschirm... "
"The viewer functions as a screen, a simulation of "self". Television confirms the diagnosis that the boundaries between inside and outside are blurred: the diagnosis that "self" is an out-rated concept"
"Video und sein Sozialsystem Fernsehen inklusive seiner Objekte ist eine Technologie der Fiktionen: "Television is a rehearsal for the time when human beings no longer need to have bodies.
5. A usual table conversation between lots of people.
6. The Biblical text is in opposition defined as fiction.
The aspects of interpreting the videoinstalation described above are neither complete nor final. Together with other possible aspects they are to give shape to the simultaneous, coherent and complete idea about “The Last Supper” as truth.
The Last Supper
Introductory Questions: What is the news
Who is the Speaker?
Who is the Spectator?
Who is the Listener?
Who is the Traitor?
What is the Price?
And the Message?
The Last Supper
The TV image of the TV Speaker is:
- a image we know;
- a decent image;
- a image that films well;
- a paragon;
- a image we long for;
- an Icon.
He is always present at dinner time, he informs us, he makes observations on us. He is everyday life, he is the embodiment of everyday life, he is a paragon of good conduct, he is a symbol of the normal, the sigh of prosperity. He brings comfort, safety and home cosiness. He is watching us, he is amusing, he is admirable, instructive, he gives us advice, he joins us and we feel we belong, he is attractive, he is part of us and we are used to him. He makes us forget about time, about how lonely we are, he makes us forget that we exist, he is a seducer. We exist through him. We live through him and for him. He is god.
this is mysterious
The Last Supper
The Last Supper
reality /reproduced and multiplied TV REALITY - LIVE/
The last Supper and the attaining of its total discretion (secrecy):
in the distorted communication
with the lack of communication
in the simulated communication
The Last Supper
The image of the TV Speaker's human existence - the anthropomorphous image of the TV Speaker is but a shadow of the image from the TV screen.
A QUESTION: 1. Which is the true image?
2. How can the TV image take shape without the spectators?
3. What will be the image if the spectators come also from the TV screen?
Impressiveness will be destroyed.
Representation will be lost.
doubt is coming to the surface
uncertainly is ahead
lost sense is wanted
The Last Supper
Description of the Videosculpture
Thirteen video monitors on stands together with their video players are placed round a long table and are playing at one at one and the same time records of questions, answers and remarks of a multiplied man - speaker. The remarks from the dialogues match one another, so that a formal table conversation comes as a result ( and may be a Biblical one?) The character of the speaker is built up out of the 13th TV versions of its image. He is a spectator, a speaker, and his own and only partner in this normal scene of authentic conversation that is going on now. Any of the 13th records is almost identical to the others: the behaviour of the speaker, his pitch of voice, intonation, pauses and facial expression are similar; the discernible difference is in the remarks that have to form a dissonant, indifferent, vapid, clumsy and boring table conversation among lots of people. This conversation starts over again unnoticeably every 20 minutes, and this cycle may be endlessly repeated.
Every separate TV image is shot in a close-up, (the shoulders included), his movements are shot with fixed camera and the record lasts for 20 minutes (as long as one cycle of table conversation). If possible the image should be natural size (it depends on the size of the TV screens). The table, lit by the TV screens will be surrounded by gentle semi-darkness, the space around will be large enough to encompass the composition of the table with the TV screens. The access to 'The last Supper" to be limited. Silence at work - desirable!
Place of the reconstruction - The Archaeological Museum
The Last Supper
Audio- Video Puzzle
The image of the puzzle - articulated in n parts. Every part provides information about the Image, but is not the Image itself; every part builds up the image.
A Question: Is the image to be found in every part?
The Image in "The Last Supper' installation is a one whole, but many-sided, composed out of its parts (not details) that a similar in form and their form makes them fit each other. Fitting together happens in the time duration of the installation.
The remarks from the dialogues are in fact the parts to fit. Every TV screen (speaker) has its own form, its own remarks, its own part in the dialogue. The image comes up with the fitting of parts to one another. The appearance of the Image is the Sacrament. What will the image be? That will be clear when the 13th video recorders and TV sets start their interaction and fill in the space of the table with the texture of “rapport” among similar images. Then the Image will be real.
I construct the parts of the puzzle so that they can fit together.
I have my idea about the puzzle and I suppose how it should look like,
But the Image will not take shape unless I run the parts together.
Because It is the Image of the Puzzle.
The Last Supper
The Last Supper
Labyrinth of the Multipersonal
Christ created his disciples.
Every disciple reflects part of the image (Of Christ)
Every disciple interprets part of the Personality (of Christ)
Every disciple holds part of Christ
Every disciple improves his own part
Question: -Where is the image (of Christ)?
Answer: - The Image is real.
- The image is a labyrinth of the multipersonal /the personality of the disciples/
The disciples build up Christ.
this is secret
The Last Supper
How can we make an audio-video puzzle?
1. Choose a random text and if possible well-known to the public (you can pick up one from the Bible) like 'The Last Supper' for example.
2. Carefully expand the text in its parts, keeping to the authenticity of the original text. You can rewrite the remarks from the dinner scene, making them simpler and putting a modern touch to the biblical context, for example.
3. Mix the parts.
4. A few days after you can give to any part the shape you want to. Take for example whichever remark you chose and enrich it.
5. When you complete the processing of the different parts you come to the most important thing - to give them their final shape so that every part will fit every other we choose ( that is to work out dialogues out of the appropriately modified remarks).
6. Now you can put the image together.
The Last Supper
1 /S - 2/ Today is the first day
2 /S - 11/ Of the Holiday
3 /S - 10/ We are all present
4 /S - 7/ No one is absent
5 /S - 8/ It feels good to get together
6 /S - 7/ Get going
7 /S - 12/ We need this supper
8 /S - 7/ We've got one important thing to discuss
9 /S - 8/ ...a pressing question...
10 /S - 4/ It's about all of us
11 /S - 9/ ...and it's pressing, isn't it?
12 /S - 5/ ...and important...
13 /S - 6/ Please, everybody, we need absolute majority on this
14 /S - 13/ We will hopefully reach consensus in the course of discussion
15 /S - 1/ What’s it all about?
16 /S - 13/ It's about tomorrow
17 /S - 11/ What day is it tomorrow?
18 /S - 10/ Today is Thursday
19 /S - 12/ Tomorrow is Friday
20 /S - 7/ There’s an important event tomorrow
21 /S - 5/ One of us will be betrayed
22 /S - 9/ For what sake?
23 /S - 2/ It is not up us to know that , I am afraid
24 /S - 9/ I see
25 /S - 4/ We didn't get together to find out what makes sense and what doesn't
26 /S - 6/ We'd rather find out a solution
27 /S - 2/ The important thing is who is to be betrayed
28 /S - 13/ To me the important thing is who will turn to be
29 /S - 1/ Will the event be televised?
30 /S - 12/ In what way?
31 /S - 7/ I'd rather want to know the price for which I will be betrayed
32 /S - 8/ What makes you think you' ll be the one?
33 /S - 7/ I was let to know that
34 /S - 10/ Let us assume you are right. Still from a historical point of view it is at least that important to know who is the traitor
35 /S - 6/ Surely not I, Lord
36 /S - 9/ How about me, Lord
37 /S - 10/ Maybe, it's me after all...
38 /S - 5/ It's surely me, Lord
39 /S - 4/ To me it will be the one who dips the ends of his sleeve into the main dish
40 /S - 3/ I don't think this is the appropriate way to find out
41 /S - 11/ It makes no difference how you will find the truth
42 /S - 2/ The thing is to find out the truth whatever it may be
43 /S - 13/ To me all that is beating about the bush. We didn't come here tonight to do that
44 /S - 1/ We should have things put straight: I mean find the reasons about this betrayal
45 /S - 12 / Come on there's a single reason and it's very simple:
the Son of Man will go just as it is written about him
46 /S - 3/ Where is that written?
47 /S - 10 / In the Script, the New Version
48 /S - 11 / The Supper Scene
49 /S - 6/ There's also a hint in the text about the traitor:
woe to that man who Betrays the Son of Man
50 /S - 8/ Yes, but he is also to remain in history as both admonition and instruction to future generations
51 /S - 9/ Do you think a traitor will appropriate serve
52 /S - 4/ It is not important if the example is appropriate: the important thing is that examples should play their roles the right way: examples should be examples
53 /S - 7/ It would be better for him if he had not been born
54 /S - 3/ Please, we still don't know who will make the betrayal
55 /S - 2/ To me the price of betrayal is essential to the
56 /S - 1/ The lower the price, the worthier the betrayal
57 /S - 13 / ...and will lend clarity to all this...
58 /S - 12 / Let's take the practical aspect: what is the price?
59 /S - 5/ The price is already on the price list and we shouldn't care about this, should we?
60 /S - 4/ When was it put on the price list?
61 /S - 9/ Yesterday or this morning, I suppose
62 /S - 3/ I hope the price is two-penny - half-penny and we don't have to waste our time on it here
63 /S - 10 / Be sure that is the case
64 /S - 8 / Today nobody may be sure about anything
65 /S - 7/ One of us will denounce his deeds. Three times
66 /S - 6/ How come that you know that?
67 /S - 7/ I told you I have my own sources of information
68 /S - 8/ So you should also have information about the one who will betray?
69 /S - 4/ I think I do
70 /S - 11/ Will you let us know if it's not too secret
71 /S - 7/ It's too interesting to be understood now
72 /S - 12/ It' ll be too boring to make everything clear today
73 /S - 3/ The curious thing is that the traitor is among us
74 /S - 2/ Surely not me, Lord
75 /S - 1/ You said it
76 /S - 11/ I think it's high time we stop discussing this question
77 /S - 7/ You' re right: it's not a long way off till tomorrow, and tomorrow everything will come clear
78 /S - 6 / We' ll have clear whether tomorrow, I suppose
79 /S - 5/ It's high time we get started
80 /S - 9/ I suggest that you try my bread: this bread is from me
81 /S - 10/ Let's make a toast
82 /S - 12/ Let's drink to all of us who sometimes fail in our judgement and always try hard to live to i
83 /S - 7/ This wine is from me
84 /S - 13/ It is delightful: thick and sweet-smelling like blood
85 /S - 3/ Like my blood, I guess
86 /S - 1/ I'm sorry I 've never had the opportunity to taste your blood but the wine seems to be of fine vintage
87 /S - 11/ I tell you I will not drink from this fruit of the wine any more...
88 /S - 4/ Are you with your car tonight
89 /S - 11/ No, it's not the car: circumstances bid me do so
90 /S - 7/ A glass of fine wine is essential to a decent supper
91 /S - 8/ It helps digesting
92 /S - 7/ It also helps gulping down
93 /S - 6/ Everybody is to gulp down something
94 /S - 9/ We didn't get together to gulp down things
95 /S - 5/ We got together to celebrate
* The main dialogue constitutes the backbone of the Last Supper dialogues: each line takes up a theme and develops it into a separate discourse (the total number of dialogues coming up to thirteen, a separate dialogue per each screen). The main dialogue is imaginary and elusive: it is never to be articulated nor perceived as a single conversation.
The texts of the other dialogues will be provided upon request.
‘If we take the story of Borhess ( about the mapmakers’ at the Emperor’s court that make such a detaied map of the empire that in size it tourned out to overlap its teritory, and the map grows wrincled and stale with the empire’s decline till it is totally torn out and only parts of it remain here and there in the desert....) as an exquisite allegory of simulation, we will go back to the tale that is at present imbued with the abstract appeal of simulacrum of the second power.
Today the abstract is neither the abstract feature of the map, nor of the counterpart neither of the mirror nor of the idea. Simulation is neither simulation of teritory, nor of referrent. It is not a simulation of substance. It is rather in the generating of the real of no origin and reality - a generation of the super-real that follows a certain pattern. The space locked in the map does not exit before and after the map is made. From now on the map will precede space and is we are to tell the story again limbs of space will slowly disintegrate under the map in this story. Remnants of the real will be traced out here and there, and not in the desert of the Empire, but in the wilderness of the real....’
‘We need appearances.’
1. Alice in the Wonderland and every now and then in the Mirror World. In search of the face of God. Whose God? The face of God - lost in the faces of his religious followers. The TV Wall of Lament
motto: Welcome to the world of Sado-mazochism
(to all that feel they are citizens of the World)
motto: Let’s make the Wall visible again
We that want to realities as they really are, we all need a Wall to make the apparent difference between US and You visible
motto: Make Walls Beautiful
A picture containing all truths hanging on walls, both a picture and a wall, to exhibit in a gallery the withering asocial, antisocial, amoral attitudes and make them legitimate.
Fashion: How to Use It?Trophey Collection 1995-1996.Hunting, Love & Sports Tropheys. (Beauty is not Free).
Fashion: How to Use It?
- as a way of making your presence be felt around;
- as a way of moving ahead;
- as a way of teasing;
- as a way of dressing;
- as a way of loving.
(Beauty is not free)
- caught beauty
- payed beauty
- dead beauty
- collected beauty
- made up beauty
- fixed beauty
and polished girls - I like them!
Hunt for Beauty!
Hunt for Desires!
Hunt for Love!
Trophey Collection 1995-1996
Hunting, Love & Sports Tropheys
Description: Idealized coloured sculpture heads of stucco, porcelain, bronze and wood of the most famous, the most expensive, the wothiest and the most praised top-models are hanging on the wall as love tropheys. Their glass eyes have empty looks. The name of the respective top model is marked under each head.
Picturesque canvasses decorate the opposite wall and present pictures of their every day life with photorealistic vivacity: features of their faces, parts of their bodies.
The hall is silent: there is a soft carpet and the visitors’ steps sink into it as if in a blotting paper. Visitors can only hear what is on the earphones, handed to them at the entrance: a calm male voice provides information about their date/place of birth. Their hobbies and interests, their weight, height, breast, thigh and waist size. Qualifications: the pay they get per hour.
Dusk. The discreet light is falling over their heads, hanging on the wall, over the pictures against them and onto the empty, white, front wall: one can read the bold letters in red “Trophey Collection 1995-1996”
Alice in the Wonderland
Objective: Find the face of God
Face: the third dimension of Name and Personality
Face: their visible part
Face: their facial part
Face: their mirror
Mirror: a space that is both illusive and real, where left and right had changed their directions, ups and downs keep their proper places
Mirror: a chance for the face to meet its image and likeness
A Mirror Looking into................................or When
the Mirror Grasps Its Own Reflection.............................Endlessly Illusive Space
(or the endless multiplication of fictitiousness)
Historical Time as Reflection
History - Present Time: mirrors reflecting each other (endless reflection of present and past events in both directions)
Memory: illusory reflections
Historicity: a reflection of the present , caught into the mirror
History: a token image and reflection of the being-at-present
image, reproduced and multiplied till its identity is totally lost
reflections endlessly reflecting one another
labyrinth of reflections reflecting one another
Being-at-present: constant propagation of images/reflection (going back into the past they keep their endless reproductions as mirror images.
Find the Face of God!
The mirror reflections of the Face of god in social and historical time: a total lack of identity. His face no longer exists, its segmented and multiplied reflections, its reflection into human patterns of behaviour ..... are the only features left.
Man ‘created in the image and likeness of God’ and the divine feature as the transidentical reflection of the human are mirror reflections of each other. They have lost their imagery in the endless rhythm of reflecting (a process of recurrence and endless self-reflection), reduced in the end to a point. This reduction is irreversible and the image that gave life to it - lost.
The Face of God is irredeemably lost!
Alice in the Wonderland
Subject: Find the face of God!
Face: distorted and twisted, lost among the faces of his exalted religious followers;
Face: a total of the faces of religious zealots;
Face: the reflection of faces, gathered together
Description: Nine TV screens, arranged to make a wall (the TV Wall of lament), display simultaneously and independently a variety of pictures: churchmen, exalted religious believers and zealots, taking part in religious rites and celebrations (Christian, Jewish, Moslem), as well as pictures, particularly atheistic in their message. The sound behind the pictures is being played at its maximum, it is hardly bearable. The interference of the different sound pictures (prayers, psalms, exclamations, sermons etc.) makes them incomprehensible to the visitor: they make nonsense of one another and find their destruction in the interference.
The TV screens will be placed in a middle-sized room with mirror covered walls and the mirrors will,naturally, reflect the TV images. One of the screens can display with a certain delay in time the image of the visitor (who happens to be at a special place in the room, chosen and marked in advance). This visitor, whom the hidden camera has already turned into a participant, is free to try his voice over a microphone (hanging over the marked place). The Wall will return back the voice louder. The only light is coming from the TV sets.
Kalashnikov 7.62 mm, The New Social Order
MAKE WAR NOT LOVE
I am supposed to motivate my intentions, future actions and behaviour, to describe them in reasonable terms - and this kind of justification is usually referred to as “drafting a project”. I am supposed to wriggle under the pressure of unpredictable meanings and interpretations of this project, which in turn, is only a shadow of what is haunting the present ( and I believe that). I am no masochist and I am painfully shrinking under the pressure of institutions, organisations, foundations: I start dutifully putting things down, because the imperative of time bid me so. Time may also change. We have been obeying different imperatives in the past....and new may come in the future. At first sight it seems that nobody is forcing me into explaining my present thoughts and attitudes into future terms. That is at first sight. Yet if I put it in a different way - at first sight nothing is forcing me..- it is pretty obvious to everybody how many things turn out to give shape to our behaviour. Willingly we are getting absorbed into the world of Sado-masochism, we willingly exercise pressure or willingly obey, we readily turn violent, we scream when raped without rules. We provide explanations, we are justify ourselves with tolerance, human rights, humanity, democracy and why not liberalism...
The title I chose for this project is misleading. I have no intention to establish a new social order, I ‘d rather think over and express my attitude to the social order we live under at present. MAKE WAR NOT LOVE is part of it.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF SADO-MASOCHISM!
(to all that feel they are citizens of the world)
Explosions, murders, assaults, floods and wars. Twinkling blue light is chasing the blood out of a staring face. A dark room. The world is invading through the TV screen. Thermo-electronic emission. A ghost of a man is holding a distance controller and switching it from channel to channel. Chaos of faces, sounds, tits, gunshots, smiling teeth, stock indexes, massage appliances, polished cars, run over bodies, army planes darting in the air, Palestine people on demonstration. A female speaker is drivelling on MTV. Some guy on CNN is imagining he is very persuasive. Another is fucking. His groans, her moaning. Jean-Claude Van Damme is going out of some critical situation, Again. Hotel pictures tease me to spend my holiday there and have a great fun.
It is dark and quiet on the street outside. Shadows of stray dogs. Yellow street lights senselessly twinkling. Downing. Gunshots somewhere near. Street lights keep ticking. No dogs now.
A room. Lit up. I read:
Confusing the meduim and the message is equivalent to confusing the sender and the receiver. It further supports the notion about the dying out of all dual polarised structures in the discourse organisation of language, related to the popular system of functions ( described by Jacobson) and the structure of the precise articulation of meaning. the circle discourse should be taken literally - its movement is not limited within two points, it rather follows a circle (the positions of sender/receiver included but not differentiated). Consequently it is not possible to transcend these positions, there is no distinct manifestation of power, neither there is an institution to bridge the gap: power is everywhere and its source is undefinable: it is a circle in which the positions of the ruler and the ruled take their endless turns; this is the end of the power in the classical sense of the word. The circle nature of power, the knowledge and the discourse put an end to distinct manifestations and oppositions. Even with the psychoanalyst power does not come from outside but out of the object of analysis. That makes a world of difference because we are always free to ask the rulers who has empowered them. Who made you a herzog? The King. And who made the King? God did. God only will not provide an answer. But the psychoanalyst will answer this question (Who made the psychoanalyst?) at once: You did. In this way the reversed simulation comes as an expression of the transition from ‘the subject of analysis’ to the ‘analyst’, from ‘active’ to ‘passive’ and the rotation of oppositions may be easily grasped, the circularity in which power is being lost, dispersed, transformed into manipulation ......
September 25th, 1995, breakfast time. News going on the radio. A teenager shot 13 people in France. In France! Sunny France. Shining, kind and happy Frenchmen, driving Citroens, smiling and talking in French. Everything is fine, much too fine. Somebody is getting sick of being nobody. In case he commit a suicide, well it was his own problem. In case he commit murder - now this is a social problem. Problems with uncontrollable murders are social. Power controls and control is power.
Back to my reading now. Telephone boxes explosion in France. Islamic groups not suspected. I don’t care about the boxes, I even don’t care about the motives. The fact is someone has run off the rails. Depressions, psychoses, suicides. Now what? To cry out running along the streets, it won’t do, you will disturb the public peace, moreover, the other may think you are crazy.
Brains exploding gently, nobody takes notice.
November 1994. Walking the streets of glossy Wien - a leader in the list of highest standards of living. Clean and tidy. Leading the top list of suicides. I am walking in the dusk. Holiday moods, lights, adverts, scent of baked sweets. Christmas is coming.
Thursday, September 14th. Jerry Adams, the ‘Sean Feign’ leader said IRA would not start disarmament.
Tomorrow is the beginning of the new school year.
Bill Clinton kisses a 94 year old lady on her birthday at the Home for Senile People in Denver.
Next time I will vote for you, Bill.
From now on it would be impossible to ask the well known question: What are your grounds to speak in this manner? How do you know? Who has entitled you to the powers you have? without having the answer at once: But it was on your behalf that I spoke! An enormous turn, a twist of meaning, inexorable blackmail of the subject who is supposed to say whatever he chooses to, but who is deprived of the chance to say a word because the answer to all questions is unavoidable: you are the answer, your question is your answer; the sophisticated trap around every single word, the forced confession disguised as a verbiage, the subject speaking in the trap of his own questions, the answer preceding the question (the violated freedom of interpretation the violating conscious or unconscious control of speech)....
I can hardly explain my desire to shoot....
This simulacrum of the rotation of oppositions, this exquisite strategy, in fact the hidden essence of the discourse of manipulation (and of new forces coming out in any field), deprive power of its range of action and define the notion about the world as a coherent whole, which results in its turn in the improbable muteness of majority today, - all this has its origins in the political sphere and the simulacrum of democracy: where God is replaced by the will of the people and the power is transformed from emanation into representation. This is the anti-Copernican revolution: transcendence no longer exists and neither the sun nor any other source of light may be also a source of knowledge and power; everything comes out of the people and goes back to it. This amazing rotation gives birth to the universal simulacrum of manipulation (from the concept about universal suffrage rights to the modern ballot boxes)....
Kalashnikov 7.62 mm, The New Social Order
MAKE WAR NOT LOVE
Welcome to the world of Sado-masochism
(to all that feel they are citizens of the world)
- the pleasure to kill, the chance to be killed.
- the reason to kill, the reason to be killed. National interests - the interests of a dominant group are in most of the cases presented as national. War as State policy.
- the need to kill, the need to be killed. The goal being a perfect manifestation of domination.
- Jihad: sacrifice as essential moral value.
- the need for victims, for exhortations and for paragons to follow. Catholicism - the exaltation of passions. Painfulness - what a sight!
terrorism, an indispensable social corrective. Profound and drastic rejection of social regulations, norm and rules. Acceptable, desirable, necessary. Terrorism, as an act of ignoring the publicly acknowledged human rights and freedoms, lends power to the political system (or to particular elements of the system) it opposed and fought.
The goal has always been to assert the real through the imaginary, the truth through the scandal, the law through its violation, labour through the strike, the system through the crisis, the capital through the revolution...
Everything finds its opposite through the metamorphosis, in order to attain its pure essence. Any kind of power and any situation define themselves through their negations and simulating death they try to escape from true agony...
The only alternative to any kind of power/institution/, trying to come out of the viscious circle of its own responsibility and fundamental lack of existence, of its deja-vu and deja-mort is to find new strength in its death, to renew the circle through reflecting itself into crisis, negation and anti-power.
MAKE WAR NOT LOVE: The Metamorphoses of Love
overbearing love - love power - the love of power
Bankruptcy of humanism, human rights, equality in rights, tolerance, democracy, liberalism, peace, freedom, proclaimed and acknowledged in public. By the right of the strong the dominating system of values has been forcibly ‘acknowledged’ in public. The rules of the game change with the needs of the ruler. Rules should be adopted on a voluntary basis and easily and consequently whatever is necessary is being done to impose the respective moral imperatives and categories (at a certain level they turn into aesthetic concepts).
The capital doesn’t care about the notion of social contract, it is a monstrous venture, based on no principles, there’s nothing more to it. It is rather the enlightened thought that is striving to impose principles on the capital and in this way to control it. In this way all the accusation that replaced revolutionary attitudes may be reduced to admonishing the capital for not keeping to the rules of the game. “power means injustice, its injustices lies in the injustice of power that exploits us...’ as if the capital has signed a contract with society for management. The left-oriented parties raised slogans for equality in the hope that the capital may take fancy at the notion of the social contract and fulfil its responsibilities towards society as a whole (at the same time revolution is not necessary, it will be fairly enough to make the capital accept the rational formula of exchange)
MAKE WAR NOT LOVE barbarism is universal.
I intended to provide examples under this item from our latest history. Examples of interests that have taken the shape of military interventions, their prehistory, grounds and consequences. Many justifications may be found, if necessary. Bombing in the name of humanism is a almost common phenomenon. I feel like mentioning China, the human rights and THE MOST FAVOURED NATION TREATMENT in the trade with USA....economic interests come first, they may turn out to be strategic, in addition.
Improbable headline glitters in the intercerebral spaces:
THE PROPAGANDA OF HUMANISM IS FORBIDDEN, WHATEVER FORM IT MAY TAKE - IT IS DEFORMED!
MAKE WAR NOT LOVE - one of the best ways to fight AIDS.
Kalashnikov 7.62 mm, The New Social Order
MAKE WAR NOT LOVE
Description: One of the walls (the front one is desirable) of a picture gallery with appropriate size, will be covered with thick porous material, that can hold fluid. The material is further processed with conserved animal blood (as much as it takes) and afterwards is stamped with a coat of paint with safe thickness. The wall is next putted with stucco to smooth the its surface and last it is painted in the same colour as the colour of the other walls is. Large picturesque canvases with young, beautiful and healthy faces painted on them, as well as appealing objects and landscapes in the style of flossy magazines and tourist guides, TV shows and postcards. They suggest happiness, light-heartedness, prosperity and provoke the desire to be shared, the longing for being possessed. In style and format come close to the pop art (posters, adverts etc.). The processed wall remains empty.
Inauguration of the installation
The artist, dressed appropriately and at safe distance from the empty wall starts shooting with Kalashnikov 7.62 mm to the wall, before the unbelieving eyes and ears of the visitors. While shooting he writes out on the wall MAKE WAR NOT LOVE. Blood comes out and keeps leaking down slowly from the holes. Bleeding love. Bitter tears. The Wall of lament. The shots are still ringing in the ears of the people present. Fear and confusion in their eyes. The feeling of death and danger - in the air. The merry images on the other walls keep hanging, senseless. Silence is falling over, the dripping of the blood can be heard only. Uneasy, rambling, trite announcements of politicians sound in the air. Interrupted by radio jamming. Their words are dying out, slowly. Radio jamming in their turn are fading away. Silence. The end.
I STAND GRAVE AND POISED, THREE GORGEOUS NAKED WOMEN AROUND ME, LITTLE COWNS ON TOP OF THEIR HEADS, EARPHONES COVERING THEIR EARS, GOLD NECKLASES AROUND THEIR GRACIOUS NECKS, WITH AN AIR OF FASHION MODELS AROUND THEM, WITH THE DAZZLING SMILES OF MISS UNIVERSE ON THEIR FACES. THERE IS A GUN IN MY HANDS. EACH BEAAUTY HOLDS A GUN CHARGER IN THEIR GENTLE HANDS AS IF IT IS AN OSCAR PRIZE OR A CRYSTAL GLASS FILLED TO ITS VERY EDGE WITH CHAMPAIGNE.
CEREMONIAL GUN LOADING.
HEROIC SHOOTING AGAINST THE WALL.
BULLETS WRITE IN BLOOD THE WORDS ‘MAKE WAR NOT LOVE’
BLOOD RUNNING FROM THE WORDS DOWN THE WALL
SHOOTING IS A FORM OF ART, SO IS WAR.
LOVE IS DANGEROUS: IT CAN BRING DEATH.
WAR CAN BRING DEATH TOO.
LOVE IS THE ART WE FORGOT.
THE ART FORBIDDEN.
WAR IS MORE AGREABLE,
THE VIRUS OF HATE IS VISIBLE.
LITTLE HOME-MADE PRIVATE WARS, EVERYBODY AGAINST EVERYBODY;
US AGAINST YOU
BELIEF AGAINST BELIEF
RESPECTED CITIZENS AGAINST IMMIGRANTS;
INTERESTS AGAIN INTERESTS,
GLOBAL/NATIONAL INTERESTS AGAINST . . . . . .SADDAM.
MILITARY OPERATIONS AS PEDAGOGICAL DEVICE.
WAR FOR RIGHTS AND AGAINST RIGHTS.
WAR FOR DOMINATION;
. . . FOR TERITORIES,
. . . FOR THE DOMAINS OF IDEAS;
. . . FOR SPACE,
. . . FOR SURVIVAL.
WAR FOR PEACE: NATO IN BOSNIA.
ARMS IS POWER.
ARMS PROTECTS PROPERTY AND TAKES POSSESSION OF NEW PROPERTY.
ARMS IS SUBMITION
ARMS AS SEX FETISH
LOVE MAKING : THE PLAY OF POWER.
LOVE AS A MILITARY ZONE
WAR AND/OR REVOLUTION: A QUESTION OF JUSTIFICATION.
CIVIL WAR AND/OR REVOLUTION: A QUETION OF WHO IS THE WINNER ANYWAY?.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION,
THE VELVET REVOLUTION,
THE SEX REVOLUTION,
EVERY REVOLUTION HAS THEIR VICTIMS . . .
INFORMATIONAL REVOLUTION. . .
...When in 1764 Kant asked “What is Enlightenment anyway?” his question is about what is going on? What is happening to us? What is the world, the time we live in?
Or to put it in a different way “Who are we? Who are we the Enlighteners, the witnesses the Age of Enlightenment? Let us compare this question to the Cartesian “Who am I?” I as a individual, yet universal and nonhistorical subject. Who am “I”, because Descartes is everyone, regardless where and when.
But the question that Kant asked was different: “Who are we at this particular moment in history?” This question analyses both us and our historical situation.
This aspect of philosophy is getting more and more important. We can think of Hegel, Nietsche...
The other aspect, the aspect of the universal philosophy has not disappeared without a trace. Yet the critical philosophic analysis of the world we live in turns out increasingly to present the true domain of philosophy. Undoubtedly the fundamental philosophical issue is the problem of present time, of our identity at present.
Our main task today is most obviously to reject rather that find out what we are. We are to invent ourselves, to create ourselves as the ones we could have been and thus set ourselves free from the double burden of the individualisation and totalitarianism of the structure of power at present.
To put an end to this argument we could say that the political, ethic, social and philosophical problem that we are facing toddiy’s definitely not the attempt to set personality free from the state and its institutions....we are to reject the patterns of individuality that have been asserted for ages and create new types of subjectivity...’
Let us make the Wall visible again.
(We need appearances)
Statement: Us # You; Vous; Sie
The Proof: The changes in both the visa issuing requirements and the social attitudes in the so called ‘developed countries’
The Human Rights Charter (Helsinki Final Act) - not valid.
Consequence: The necessity to elucidate and differentiate our positions, avoiding any ambiguities, in order to cut the interpretations favoured by the political and diplomatic jargon on the one hand and the perverse interpretations of legal provisions.
LET US MAKE TRUTH VISIBLE!
Appeal: Artists from all over the world, come together!
Let’s make the Wall visible!
Description: let every honourable citizen from the EC who respect and obey the law in their countries lay a brick where the Berlin wall was torn down in 1989. Their loyalty to this action will be reimbursed (10 USD for a brick), the travel expenses of the participants will be covered. Their followers form the countries that are not members of EC and citizens of the ex-and-present socialist countries are welcome to join this unique, voluntary democratic construction work on international basis, inherently different from the construction works that Soviet occupation troops carried out at the same place years ago.
Documentary films and archive pictures will be presented, together with shots from the tearing down of the Wall in 1989 ( these frames will be played from end to beginning so that the tearing down of the Wall may turn into building it up). How easily documents may be ‘interpreted’ sometimes...
The Human Rights Charter (Helsinki Final Act) - not valid.
The new foundations of the wall are officially laid out in the end.
Every viewer is after their work of art.
Every work of art finds their audience.
Every work of art accomplishes their audience.
The work of art reflects the viewer’s frame of mind.
‘I have often said, and this is a fairly Christian idea,
that the artist is the one who holds the mirror:
anybody passing by can see their reflection in it;
but at the same time the one holding the mirror is no longer existing, he turns into the others...’
the others are dead
The subject, objectivised into the social medium through a variety of social practices, the life finally, is to be evaluated as object and treated likewise: an object turned into knowledge, into a set personality, into a safe, mapped out biography, into some event the importance of which we have grasped. The subject is being trapped in the archives, by a fixed image and through a particular action.
The authenticity that has transcended its objectivity, will be next framed, fixed, clotted up and in the long run - forced into death. A dead body now, the subject turns into an object: identified as well as individualized.
The action of the subject in the continuity of social space fix it to a set of relations, which on their part, cause the subject’s objectivization and materialization, ....and partial mortification.
Our actions come out of what we wish to keep for us, of what we leave behind...after death: we strife for and ardently wish to live up to the publicly acknowledged normes of worth and value.....Think either well of the dead or nothing.
MY IDEAL VIEWER
There is a brutal truth that artists deliberately avoid in order to prevent the disintegration of their own personality. The fact that dead artists seem more worthy of praise and in fact are better praised than living artists, is as obvious as it is depressing. The dead artist is once and for ever identified: placed in his safe, mapped out biography he is a man of defined personality that may provide a source of knowledge or probably be subject to reconstructions. He is by far the honest among artists for the simple reason that he will never be misleading the public again: he is a clearly defined object and any doubt, interpretation, evaluation or opinion, oriented to him, in fact has little to share with his personality. He takes hints and innuendoes easily (or rather he has no choice but to accept the twists of fortune with their biographical, esthetic or social aspects). For once he becomes the compy, the safest the ideal artist.
Anytime I crushed into my viewer I understand in one way or another that every viewer hides dead man, somewhere inside. Most often the losses are moral aesthetic and intellectual, but they can also be emotional, ethic and political. The viewer’s impartiality seems of no help in this case. The local paralysis and dead limbs infect the withering body, still alive. Deviations in thought and action are rather caused by the living part, than by the dead one. And that is how we’ have come to a conclusion: to have a viewer of precise, loyal and impartial judgement will eman to have him individualized, objectivized and identified and that is to have him dead.
A Subway Guide
1. Install a ‘funeral escort’, consisting of a single vapid sculpture of human shape, at a proper place in a subway.
2.Hand The Subway Guide, with instructions how to move ahead enclosed, to the passers- by.
3. Set the subway to sound.
4. Gather their impressions and record them. (audio/video records, pictures).
5. Organize an exhibition of the materials (TV interviews with passers)
Chinese funeral rites, practised in 3 c. B.C.
(the tomb of the emperor Tsin Shi Hwan)
Distorting the daily conscience and routine of passers-by through sound, text, image, forms and space organization. The sculptures with their shapes, number and size push the passers-by out of their usual space and make them lose their way.
To force the occidental passer-by into his awareness of being a traveller through his own life....a passer-by through existance.......on his way to death.
1991 V. Zankov
Install a ‘funeral escort’
A Subway Guide
We are all buried.
It is a question of time only.
- feel the difference between under-the ground and in-the-ground;
- feel the difference between the temperatures above and under the ground;
- see the dusk and the neon lights (they are artificial, aren’t they);
- touch the invisible soilaround you - it is everywhere;
- listen to the echoing steps of a hurrying man;
- listen to your own steps - you are the same;
- feel the warmth of someone’s breath into your neck;
- breath in the stinking urine smell, coming from behind a corner;
- Feel your body, you are still moving, breathing, still under-and-in-the ground,
you are still alive?
a daily funeral in portions
1. To have a good reason when comining into-the-ground;
2. To use the ground only in case...( using the ground is not obligatory;
3. Coming into the ground may last long;
4. Coming into the ground for real is once in a lifetime.
A Subway Guide
lack of reality
reality as a shadow
death as lack of reality
the way to death as reality
life as the way to death
the way as reality
the way as simulation
Dress! Keep the likeness! Grow! Smile!
A Subway Guide
A record of an expressionless male voice is coming from the middle of the subway, slowly and evenly pronouncing the words*:
Вие сте под земята
Вие не сте в земята
Вие се движите
Вие не чувате
Вие не виждате
Вие не се интересувате
Вие не мислите
Вие се притеснявате
Вие се забавяте
Вие се спирате
Вие сте спряни
Вие сте спирани
Вие сте възмутени
Вие сте запотени
Вие сте въодушевени
Вие сте възхитени
Вие сте умилени
Вие сте натъжени
Вие сте разочаровани
Вие сте уморени
Вие сте умопомрачени
Вие сте уморителни
Вие сте отегчителни
Вие сте досадни
Вие сте нагли
Вие се наблюдавате
Вие се оглеждате
Вие се споглеждате
Вие се срамувате
Вие търсите изход
Вие търсите подход
Вие търсите пример
Вие търсите памет
Вие търсите спомен
Вие търсите сила
Вие търсите насилие
Вие търсите компенсация
Вие търсите сензация
Вие търсите организация
Вие търсите органи
Вие имате органи
Вие пипате органи
Вие държите органи
Вие общувате чрез органи
Вие общувате с органи
Вие сте органи
Вие се уригвате
Вие се осирате
Вие се обривате
Вие сте болни
Вие се разлагате
Вие се сбръчквате
Вие сте под земята
*Translator’s note; The text below belongs to the genre of poetry and its translation in English proved undesirable. Please consider a version of this text in Bulgarian
1. Pourquoi etudier: la question de sujet in H. Dreyfus, P. Rabinow, M. Faucault: Un parcurs philisophique Gallimard, 1984.
2. Jean Baudrillard, Art & Text, N (September 1983): p. 3-47.
Note: Please be informed that the text is a translation from its Bulgarian version and excuse all possible misinterpretations.
3. Ventsislav Zankov, quatations in this text present parts of conversations with friends at ‘The Painter Men’s Inn’, Sofia 1995
a paper presented at the Prague Conference on Artificial Environments as Artifacts
‘Everything turns into its opposite
to live through its purest form’
When I was to sit down, with a pen in hand, and write what I intend to present to you today, I faced one difficulty: I did not know who you are, what you are after and unaware of that I was not able to write a formal text, composing a monologue that I myself don’t need. I do have something to tell you or at least I believe I do, yet one chooses different ways to tell one and the same thing to different people and for different reasons. So I had to imagine you, to think you out, to tease you into an imaginative discourse, in which you would take the listening part, in fact the more difficult one. My imagination may never meet reality but I don’t feel awkward about that, and I don’t think it is that important either: I just needed this initiation as quant mathematicians need to introduce virtual equations for their own reasons...
I faced another difficulty, as it always happens to me when trying to voice my thoughts into words: '...language can hardly present thought at once in its coherence: it has to set it out in parts and in accordance with a certain linear continuity...' as Faucault put it. Which is my pattern of voicing my thoughts? I have to put together the parts of an intellectual puzzle and the image of that puzzle will hopefully come up in the end.
That was the mental labyrinth I had to enter and I had to at least give it size and shape, otherwise it might have turned out to be an endless one, resembling Borhess’s La Biblioteca de Babylon. Still Borhess himself shaped this labyrinth after the pattern of a library, avoiding in this way its vicious infinity.
I don’t feel like making a historical analysis and review of the development of new forms in art, I mean videoart, mediaart and the creation of virtual realities. I don’t feel like comparing what is going on in my country to what already exits outside Bulgaria either. And I have a very simple reason about that: as an artist involved in artistic and social activities I have at the same time to keep the position of an observer. To put it in a different way I had to keep a critical eye to something that is so close to my heart and eye, that the image is getting blurred. I think I share the effort of keeping the distance with everybody who is involved in the new technologies in visual arts and artificiality with their attempt to give it new meaning, new purpose and new name...and this attempt is still considered to be the core of true art. We don’t have the distance that time mercifully provides and we have to feel the sign behind the signified. That holds true for countries ‘frozen’ under particular social, political and economic circumstances for a continuous period of time. My country is one of them. We are trying very hard to catch up, to experience in several years only what had sprouted, grown and blossomed for quite a longer time, in fact for the proper time, trusting the rhythm of life. Our real time had been so compresses that the fruits of our effort got rotten, before growing ripe, we are breathlessly rushing headlong to take over shadows, born elsewhere, shadows that have reached us through TV, magazines, catalogues, shadows that are but reproductions of something...somewhere.
When it comes to action and artistic commitment which is not formal in character and purely aesthetic in nature, but generates meanings that provoke social response and relate to moral and intellectual modes of existence - well that is the other side of the coin. The artist works in a society of relict aesthetic values, where culture is institutionalized to fit the old and painfully known scheme. What the artist is trying to create is qualified as not standard, and that is the mildest way to put it. The artist is on the limit of what is expected and welcome, of what is normal and acceptable, the artist breaks through that limit . His actions are qualified as avant-garde, which is fundamentally wrong, and in the intellectual landscape of my country takes the shape of something inconsistent, strange, exotic and DIFFERENT. Yet at the same time the artist, willingly or subconsciously, follows patterns that were established and acknowledged somewhere else. It is again the interpretation of something already known, shaped and completed, that is at work. It may be a performance or a videosculpture, a multimedia installation or maybe a conceptual art - that makes no difference.
The artist, following patterns that were formed somewhere else in some different historical, social and political time, turns out to be again the one to catch up but now he is also the one dismissed from true life here and now, lost in his barren world. On the other hand he can not feel the driving force behind the phenomenon of performance in the 60ies, its mutation to videosculpture, the growth if videoaesthetics, the creation of virtual realities, because they don’t belong with his world...And that is why what is going on in my country remains incomplete, inconsistent, haphazard, obscure, it remains chaotic and poor. Yet maybe this obscurity , the aesthetic and stylistic chaos lend him the freedom and recklessness to introduce new technologies in his art.
‘Anthropology of Everyday Life’ is the project I am working on at present. It is an attempt to formulate certain questions, to grasp and interpret meanings and clusters of meanings in the field of communication and information, defined as the subject of this symposium: it explores the relations between TV and Reality, Real and True, Action and Behaviour, Response and Policy, Ideology and Myth, Fairly Tale and History without claims to provide an exhaustive and final view on these issues.
Not long ago I came upon a text that may be a good reason to start a discussion, to set thoughts free, this is a text and an inspiration, a point of creative departure to interpreting both the nature of phenomena and any particular phenomenon, a text that I intend to rewrite and interpret:
‘‘If we take the story of Borhess ( about the mapmakers’ at the Emperor’s court that make such a detailed map of the empire that in size it overlaps its territory, and the map grows wrinkled and stale with the empire’s decline till it is totally torn out and only parts of it remain here and there in the desert....) as an exquisite allegory of simulation, we will go back to the tale that is at present imbued with the abstract appeal of simulacrum of the second power.
The space locked in the map does not exist before and after the map is made. From now on the map will precede space and if we are to tell the story again limbs of space will slowly disintegrate under the map in this story. Remnants of the real will be traced out here and there, and not in the desert of the Empire, but in the wilderness of the real....’ Jean Baudrillard
To trigger further speculation I will afford changing this text a little. Let me replace the word map with the word television and see what will come out as a result: ‘The space locked in the TV does not exit before and after the TV is made. From now on the TV will precede space and if we are to tell the story again limbs of space will slowly disintegrate under the TV in this story. Remnants of the real will be traced out here and there, and not in the desert of the Empire, but in the wilderness of the real....’
The new realities: space of communications, the media, the satellization in communication technologies are part of this wilderness.
The question is that Television prescribes norms. It has developed from a witness, a recorder, a transmitter of reality into our all-seeing “third eye” that makes everything to be accessible here and now on live. The particular, personal, daily life becomes part of the life of the big TV family: the world. And we have to obey the norms that it prescribes and we have to follow the unvoiced moral advice if we want to belong to that hyper-reality, that thousands of TV cameras produce every moment. We look straight into the face of “GOOD” and “EVIL”. No questions are to be asked. We believe all things are true. We follow the events with the eyes of a witness. We follow fashion, sports, the black chronicles, the gossip, the wars, and sinking deep in this hyper-realistic and hypnotic reality we turn into its consequence....Into a lifeless consequence. Flesh, forced into this hyper-reality, annihilates. the phenomenon of Television dematerializes and annihilates sexuality by creating electronic objects of desire. TV absorbs us in virtual worlds and makes us feel them as our real, precise and exhaustive world picture. What we lose, in the effort (and will) to trust this reality, is our ability for human contact. The TV image is possible, it is acceptable, it is intimate, it works. Yet it is not real, it is not vulnerable, it is barren: it is an image, a derivative of flesh rather than the flesh itself. The sacredness of human body and flesh is violated: any moment little hungry Etiopean children may drop in in your living room; or victums of disasters and accidents, run over bodies of peaceful citizens and soldiers...and at the same time we watch TV, munching popcorns carelessly, and may even swich from channel to channel to see Claudia on the catwalk, triumphant. We have lost the sacredness of the body. I don’t mean that we have become less vulnerable, I rather mean that irresponsibility has run wild into us, destroying our natural disgust against killing. That finds a partial compensation in the fear from law and legality...it is not the murder that impresses us, it is the trial at court that we can’t forget, that’s a TV performance on live, a real TV serial. In the long run O.J. Sympson was pronounced unguilty, but that can not make the dead, less dead than they are. ..
Here comes the question: What is the essence of Humanism? It is a core of themes, related to judgements of value. For the purposes of this presentation and in general, I accept the definition of Humanism, that Faucault gives in his work: ‘Was ist Aufklarung. In it he traces out the relations among Christian Humanism, Theo-centric Humanism, the Sceptical Humanism of the 19th. century, Marxist Humanism and the Humanism of Exsistentialism. I would hardly make a mistake if I add the Humanism of Television. I wonder if Shakespeare will be too surprised to hear me say that the world is a television and we are part of it. We are obssessed with the global media system of values. The consistency in the chain of causality is distorted and closed in the endless cycle of meaning propagation. We can no longer ask the question: ‘Who creates television?’ without getting in answer: ‘You do: reality feeds television with evidence’. Tevelision creates modes of behaviour and reproduces them again, under the pretext that it reflects reality. The relationship Reality-Television-Reality is no longer valid. ‘Everything turns into its opposite through metamorphosis to live through its purest form’ Jean Baudrillard.
I would like to discuss the proposal of Maarten Sprenger and Maarten Ploeg for arranging a P.A.R.K. 4DTV workshop in Sofia under the title “5000 Second Show” and I have at least two good reasons to do it. the first one is that this proposal is about how to make TV, it about alternative one our artwork videofilms, transmitted on the cable network of Amsterdam TV. My second reason is that I find the attempt to disguise means of expression and present them as goals as symptomatic: it is a goal for goal’s sake and ignores the fact that a true manipulation may be at work . The more I read this text, the more suspicious I get: the authors pretend to present a ‘radical concept’.
I can find in the text the key words that are supposed to express this radical feature: ‘pure form of sound and image’, ‘pure television’ and everything that may fall under this definition. Moreover - there is a suggestion in the text that the reader will find out about ‘how to work out non-standard television concepts’.
To me ‘How to work out non-standard television concepts’ implies three possible interpretations:
- to provide the instruction about working out non-standard television concepts;
- to provide examples about working out non-standard television concepts;
- to provide methods of working out non-standard television concepts.
These three interpretations, in their turn, mean to provide a standard on non-standard television. The contradictions on which this concept is based are fundamental in character and symptomatic. Any attempt to give shape to the notion of OTHERNESS ( in my case this is the domain of new television) through defining it as ‘alternative’, ‘anti’, ‘pure’ and ‘true’ with the means of SAMENESS ( in my case this is the domain of regular television), leaves us within the well known shape of SAMENESS ( of regular television) and is doomed to failure. It is a variation, a play, an interpretation of SAMENESS. Consequently we can never more qualify this attempt to make ‘pure television’ as radical.
Historical memory is not bad enough to ignore the failure of surrealist revolt against the world, the attempt to force art into falling apart around its core and the failure to create art for art’s sake. ‘Pure Art’ is the attempt to reduce art to the limits of personal artistic gesture. But what makes this gesture artistic is the involvement of the public and the artists commitment to the social life of his work. In the world we live in, Creation is bound to be shared. And we have no other way to create things, but the way God created man: free to livbe and accomplish His Creation.
Let’s go back to the text now. I can sense a deliberate effort or may be a spontaneous desire to mislead: to usher the reader into the labyrinth of TV space without letting him know where he is...and what is television, anyway? The misleading chain of words goes like that: ‘P.A.R.K. 4DTV broadcasts anything that deals with the pure form of sound and image ....and is the solution to a black screen in the night time...’.And there comes to me another question, and another follows:
How can the image be pure?
Pure of what?
How much pure?
I can ignore them, it’s O.K. The question: ‘What is TV?’ never comes. I have the feeling instead that I can do whatever I want to on the condition that it will stand in opposition to the ‘black screen in the night time’ and will not be ‘a monotone bomb of infotainment and soaps’. I wonder which is the ‘purest’ form of sound and image at night time - isn’t it the black screen at night and the silence in the dark? Yet I have to show that this is ‘a work of art’. How to do it? I will not tell.
And back to the text, now. ‘...Television as sensual source of information...’. To me that implies:
- a biased interpretation of information, that means providing distorted information, manipulating;
- decorating information, providing information in make up to make it more appealing....and that is again manipulating....’and may be described as pure television’.
Television that uses information to manipulate is pure television. Television that replaces values with their is pure television. Television that forms and distorts mass consciousness is pure television. Brainwashing television is pure television. “Dallas’ Family Series is a television of the purest breed. We needn’t find shelters in barren TV domains, calling them TV artworks, we’d better take TV as what it really is and, in our turn, make our own manipulation with it. We have to tame television and this is our last chance to win our identity.
I don’t feel like discussing the technical issues in the field of media.
I don’t care how to make television, I want to know what is television, anyway?
I don’t care about the projections of virtual realities, what I care about are the modes of thought that these realities keep to. I can understand that the technical part, the formal one is important to the development of the artistic means of expression. Yet the essential part to me, as an artist, lies in what these means express in fact, how to use them and for what sake. Where are we as acting agents? Where is the world and how media describes the world, how media presents the world and can media encompass the world? Where are we, in the new realities we feel and try to articulate?
‘...When in 1764 Kant asked “What is Enlightenment anyway?” his question is about what is going on? What is happening to us? What is the world, the time we live in?
Or to put it in a different way “Who are we? Who are we the Enlighteners, the witnesses of the Age of Enlightenment? Let us compare this question to the Cartesian “Who am I?” I as an individual, yet universal and nonhistorical subject. Who am “I”, because Descartes is everyone, regardless where and when.
But the question that Kant asked was different: “Who are we at this particular moment in history?” This question analyzes both us and our historical situation....’ I can hardly make analysis of our historical situation, and I don’t mean to. However I can try and I will keep trying to adopt the position Faucault describes in his interpretation of Kant’s paper on Enlightment, published in 1784 in a Munich newspaper.
When we discuss art issues, aesthetic categories and new technologies we are bound to answer one important question: What paradigms of thought lie behind? To what extent the new horizons remain within the routine of our world vision. And since we are discussing the role of virtual realities and cyber spaces in art we should first consider virtual realities in general. And that is to see what lies behind appearances, to what extent virtual worlds follow our worldvision and represent its consequence. , to what extent they are shadows of reality, the reality of our body and spirit, our banal everyday reality. Compared to the issues about the introduction of new technologies in art and the way they influence the aesthetics of the image in art the questions, mentioned above, are fundamental in character. Unless we make an attempt to answer them the only alternative we have is to apply the paradigms of thought we have already adopted to newly-sprout fields of creativity. But maybe this is the way to expand our worldvision and reach out to the horizons of the unknown. And of course that is neither evident nor promised. I was curious to find out the prototype of videoclips in the Fernan Lege’s film ‘Mechanical Ballet’, made at the beginning of the century and belonging to the Movie Avant-Garde. I dare say that the pictures of Man Ray lends brilliance and uniqueness to our idea about modern photography. It was as early as the works of Esher appeared, when the play with absurd perspectives was discovered for the visual arts. The two-dimensional space of Vazareli bulged in at the time when if men have had a word for computer at all, it should have sounded quite exotic. I can see that history is so rich and benevolent to interpretations, that we can not take much from going back to find examples that will prove the consistence of one notion or another. Because we will always find them. The important thing is the context in which we will interpret the examples. And again we come to the question about the time we live in, about our own situation. We are involved into a discourse of new technologies and technical progress as part of the
West-European system of moral values and that is inevitable. That is an all-encompassing rationality, pretending to be universal and a symbol of Progress. It is a widely-spread notion that it is a question of time only for the Second and the Third Worlds to adopt that symbol as their own, to join consensus, democracy, happiness and welfare. Nobody takes notice of the dark side of optimism and technical euphoria. The essence of Islam remains a world of its own. There are countries where the cultivation of West-European values is not only incomplete: what has already been achieved is falling apart. Something went wrong somewhere, something failed us. We can put that as mediaeval barbarism, or maybe choose Islamic fundamentalism, it is up to us. Yet there is a incomprehensible resistance to the universality of that model. How can one resist rationality, progress, happiness? Why should anybody be doubtful to embrace them? Obviously it is the paradigm of power that has a finger in all this. And here comes the problem because we can not play the strategic part and hope to solve it with power. There exists the Western model of civilization, pretending to be universal ...and there are other models that will never join it. I believe this is an answer to the childish hope that it is a question of time and that we will live happily ever after.
Sofia, November 95 Ventsislav Zankov top
Thomas Moore called his imaginary island Utopia, having no idea that imagination is maybe more haunting than reality. Moreover: imagination can take the shape of a geographical reality with real inhabitants: and these inhabitants can, on their turn name it the Island of Freedom - Cuba. I do not intend however to discuss the way certain social and economic attitudes were, have been or are to be transformed into utopias: I would rather talk about the metamorphosis of Utopia and the American dream.
Utopia comes out when you see it is there, yet you feel it is out of reach. It is an island in the ocean of consciousness. promising a way out, welfare, order and justice, a longing for what is different, for what is unknown, a craving for what is not here, for a rationalized and not divine way out.
We were in deep dreaming: The American dream was part of it. A way of life, shadows of which came to us and fueled our imagination: a way of life that we thought to be beautiful, virtuous, just; smiling happy people of pin-up proportions driving glossy cars, fighting the evil, sympathetically welcoming any of us who succeeded to get out of it. People filled with love and ready to save us...ready to help....help us become like them.... and live happy lives.
And though our bodies lived on our land, our thoughts and feelings were somewhere else. Closed down into the formal regulations of a distorted and barren ideology we faced our inner horizons, set free with the rejection of authorities: a pattern of getting over the historical attempt to lend reality to utopia.
I thank this American dream , ideal and elusive as it was, because the totalitarian force of the moral, ideological and political imperatives fell apart all around it, reduced to inconsistent formatting fields. Once you let the freedom of doubt come over you, doubts grow stronger, suspicion comes into your eyes, revelation - to your thoughts. Categories, long crammed into your head, begin to lose their clarity apriori and definite character: good and evil, beautiful and ugly, right and wrong, the chain of terms is getting more and more confusing: violence - crime - law- punishment. Faith turns into Faithfulness. Things turn into their opposites through metamorphosis. Committed to its mission as it was, the Eisenhower Aircraft Carrier takes the shape of Aurora Cruiser.
I thank this American dream , ideal and elusive as it was, because it gave us a new look and we saw how the glossy surface of the brave new world of unlimited possibilities got transparent. And , yes, these are unlimited possibilities: unlimited military powers, unlimited economic interests. Anything may be qualified to be of national interest and this interest has for long now gone beyond the boundaries of the country, beyond any reasonable limits and inhibitions that the term national may indicate.
With few exceptions the planet was announced to be a zone of national interest and security. The American dream turned into Utopia. The curious thing is that the average American will find nothing wrong about this. The assumption that this is the way social systems function suggests that authority, totalitarian or other, always acts in the same way. Power does not affect action itself and consequently power doesn’t limit action (otherwise it would rather be qualified as violence). Power gives shape and controls the scope of action: in this way it leaves action develop freely...yet within the boundaries of the scope defined. Thus different types of ruling will imply different patterns of shaping and controlling the scope of action and respectively different scope parameters. Difference in parameters comes out of different social and economic relationship. Different patterns of shaping and controlling the scope of action hold one common feature: they are all outward in nature in the sense that they lend the obligatory codes of social behavior, yet at the same time they have their inward character as far as they give shape and structure to the essentials of individual consciousness. It is not easy to discern like outward the parameters of the patterns of thought that appear in this twilight zone, because at the same time they are felt to be inward, intimate, intrinsic, apriori patterns of thought. This is exactly the point of painful collisions in turbulent periods of change and restructuring of social space. Since space was brought up here we could find easy analogies in astrophysics: analogies between the Universe on the one hand and our social, and why not, personal worlds, on the other; analogies unfolding along the axis of unattainable endmost areas of space from both social and physical point of view. The huge mass of the Universe is assumed to cause space distortion, closing the space down with its endmost parts remaining out of reach. Even if we try really hard to keep moving along a straight line to a supposed periphery this line will follow the distortions in space and in the long run will turn curved: thus our journey will find no end and will for good remain within the space in which it was attempted; the periphery will remain out f reach...Every society like a small universe has its own aggravation: the aggravation of social consciousness. Aggravation and integrity bring together, keep together, distort and close down social space and leave its endmost areas out of reach, keeps them unintelligible. Children and crazy people only can cross these territories. The aggravation and integrity of social consciousness , being derivatives of economic and respectively political structures, have in America gone far beyond geography.
High integrity of social consciousness is necessary to hold this social space together and watch for welling up frustrations and centrifugal forces, and turn them into centripetal... And what lies behind, and what remains invisible is the danger of implosion, of reducing the distorted social space to a black whole....Seduced by the global geography of this space we suddenly get trapped and wolfed down there.
When it comes to talking about aggravation and space, time often strikes in. The duration of social time is a separate subject, and a large one. What I can do now is to trace out the essence and role of psychoanalysis within the high integrity of social consciousness. This integrity acts like anesthesiologist to individual consciousness, keeping it numb and within the limits of what is socially acceptable. Seemingly free people act freely, freely take decisions, take the right decisions, take the necessary decisions, freely express their opinion, express proper opinion, express socially proper opinion....and for a single moment they can not imagine that they needn’t do that. Cannot help behaving like proper citizens, the paragon citizens for the rest of the world. Sometimes however human nature refuses to comply with all this. Doubts come out to the surface - the pressing integrity of social consciousness that you adopted as your own keeps pressing you spasms seize you,, convulsions go down on you, depressions take their turn. Depressions: either revelations or total loss of sense, elemental darkness and void is all around you and you start random wandering and pushing against the walls of your tunnel of life. Everything around is pressing you, you have no right to take a rest, these are the rule of the game, that you accepted long, long ago, to be let in, to pay the game. You can feel a friendly hand touching your brain gently, gently petting you, you can hear a voice, telling you that you shouldn’t have opened your eyes, for it is not necessary, and besides it is useless to watch in the darkness, ...and darkness does not exit after all, ...and still if it does it is not part of you, and besides there’s light waiting for you in the end. Step by step you get calmed down, the stream of everyday life sweeps you away, and you resign at last and drift along. Light has somehow ran away from your eye, but there’s nothing to worry about, you ‘have taken the right way after all, haven’t you?...You brain is well greased, the creaks - muffled down, your mechanics works fine...again.
To put it in a different way the traditional widely spread[read psychoanalytical practice oriented to solving individual problems makes them exterior instead, which is no final solution (though psychoanalysis pretends that this is so) The main objective of pshychoanalysis appears to be to make individuals free of their problems (especially their existential) problems and in this way take them back to their desirable social functions: society cannot afford waiting for anybody to waste their time on solving their personal puzzles, and just think of it, maybe the answer will never be found, maybe there’ s no answer or rather it is dissolved in the process of finding an answer. Well, that does not seem to me like helping somebody find their solution. Psychoanalysis rather provides temporarily satisfactory answers and cuts the process of finding a solution by making individuals dependent on it. The psychoanalyst, helping his patients every now and then, spoiling them, makes them run back to him at every extremity that comes along - to get help, to share their troubles, to shirk from responsibility for things that sometimes they even refuse to face. On the one hand they get stuck to the old Catholic practice of asking for indulgences, on the other hand the sexless figure of the psychoanalyst, in times of extreme alienation and lack of the ability for human relationship, absorbs into a throbbing shapeless whole the remnants all our dear images: Beloved, Brother, Friend, Mother, Dog...present, past and future merge into this shapelessness and you can confide everything to it, ....what you confide will never be yours again because you have transferred it to your healer...and you pay him about that. But don’t forget that heroes from the fairly tales grow up and become heroic battles and victories over mythical fearsome monstrous, battles won after long and lonesome wondering into the woods, with no guides, no hope....and without despair. Mythical creatures at the end of 20 century: if you lose the fight with them you become their slave and if you are the winner you will have to replace them.
The woods of our subconscious are still waiting to be explored and mapped out, we are still in the time of random wondering, we are still after our monster. We still don’t have any idea about what to do when we face him: maybe we have to destroy him like winners do, or maybe we have to reconcile or maybe tame him, why not? Or is it that taming the monster will put us in the role of St. George from a famous Renaissance picture, in which the saint is triumphantly piercing the dragon with his sword, not noticing that the dragon is tied with a thin bracelet to a Princess. We still have time to take our decision, we still don’t have answers about what is here and what is now, who is Saint George and where is the Dragon. Shall we take our time?
I thank the Orient about this peculiar life of thought into the no man’s world of elusive dimensions, of twinkling here and winking there. Its fluidity, its quality of evasiveness and uncertainty allows for resourceful getting over moral imperatives and systems of values. Its lace-like social consciousness guards the way to its endmost areas and you can freely step in once you have taken the risk that what you see beyond will for ever be qualified as groundless, unprovable and beyond the degrees of comparison.
I accept my opponents, my intelligent, rationally open to OTHERNESS opponents, brought up in the spirit of liberalism and tolerance. ‘My Freedom ends where your s begin’ Very good, indeed. What if the opinion or behavior, or the action you are going to openly and liberally embrace, turns out to be the most anti-liberal, disrespectful and neglecting your own? I can tell you what...Your liberal attitude will be either finished or it will turn into another pattern, into the Eastern world-picture, where patience, predestination, resignation and bending down at the feet of Fate take the ruling part. That is the World of Karma, where tolerance expects no response, plays no balancing part, makes no deal. This ‘illogical’ and ‘anti-rational’ attitude may naturally reveal its opposite side; extreme fanaticism, incomparable cruelty, sacrifice....Because the assumption that my freedom ends where yours begin is a one way train, it is ‘the run away train that never comes back, baby’.....
How about Utopia then, where’s the beginning of utopia. maybe it waits where Illusion ends.
Utopia turns into a distinct category when you grasp its particular inconsistency, its peculiar impossibility. The process of grasping its meanings is in fact a process of embracing the difference, it is the process of letting belief live their own life in the world. Inner beliefs and convictions can no more be qualified as utopian for a very simple reason: they are possible, they may become real. Whether this is the reality of a sick mind or other makes no difference. An island in the ocean of consciousness. promising a way out, welfare, order and justice, an imaginary island. Utopia will always be fiction.
I was watching the Larry King’s Show on CNN on live the other day when somebody called in the studio to tell that CNN manipulates, that there’s a real censorship at work...But you see, this call was on air, how come that the censorship let it go? Our attention is kindly invited to leave all doubts about manipulation and censorship and consider the fact that the subject about censorship is openly brought up to the studio....waiting to be discussed. Well, that is exactly the point where my doubts begin. How come that this call came in the right moment at the right place to make clear to everybody that censorship simply will not work with the CNN guys. At the same time there’s already a CNN E-mail address to serve the opinion and recommendations of the public. Possibly the babies-in-the wood will not be late to send their views and critical notes to reduce and, why not, to avoid manipulation and censorship, having no idea that this hot line may be open to serve other purposes. It will for sure improve public trust in CNN, because it provides the feedback, doesn’t it? And come to think of it isn’t it the right feedback that CNN needs: gathering negative opinions and critical notes may wisely turn into a good lesson about how to manipulate better.
I watch CNN now and then and sometimes I make pictures. And sometimes I wonder where I am. Society, media, personal life, seduction and rejection, acceptance and performance. Is life like a work of art, after all? Who needs the unity of the art, the artist, his public image and his work? Who need the union of life and art into a strange, illogical, unique, authentic life: a guarantee for masterpiece; a masterpiece generator. A concoction, made after the old recipe:
- a dose of skillfulness ( that lends uniqueness)
- a dose f strangeness ( that lends healthy incomprehensibility)
- a dose of craze (i.e. lack of understanding)
- a dose of suffering ( that mercifully lends relief to poor talents)
- a dose of courage ( that provides the admiration of the public)
- a dose of poverty ( that lends relief to the rich)
and a dose of tragedy to gulp down ‘genius’ smoothly.
Warmed up on slow fire of experts’ evaluations. Served flambe with yellow media flames.
The attempt to merge into one personal life, artistic activities and to live the works of art that you create has for long now been doomed to failure and worse has turned into a cliche. Yet this attempt was nevertheless saved in the attitude of the merchant of works of art, who sells in fact pieces of life, pieces of extravagant artistic life that his clients cannot afford living.
Sometimes I make pictures and sometimes I think about past times. I go back to the Middle Ages. It was pretty enough for a small village to prosper in these times to have relics of a Saint, hidden somewhere around. If relics are not available they may be produced. Or provided. The important thing is to stimulate visitors...and then visitors will stimulate trade... and that is how the world keeps going round and round...Our time has also produced its saints: a picture or two By Van Gogh can turn any small French town into a tourists’ attraction.
It seems that what you make counts little: HOW YOU MAKE IT counts the world. The world may choose whether to follow a work of art and grow a better world...maybe some day the world will grow better out of some work of art: ‘make a wish....make it happen’ . Till that day comes, however, if it comes at all, artists who want to change the world will have a hard time, thwey will have a painful time....a time of resistance...a life time of rejection, because participation in the change they cherish is not free....participation may be questioned, and price may be too high...as to promises...no promises, I am afraid.
Sometimes I make pictures ...I want to draw a picture of a srawberry for some days now, I want to draw my strawbery, feeling free and young...Past days come back to me, the days of my life, when the word performance was exotic in the sense that there were no genre prescriptions, no clarity, no art rules. Artists in these days presented themselves though something that later turned out to be performances just as they turned out to be performers. I mean that artists in these days did not present performances to the public, they rather showed performances, letting their inner world come out and get shaped as action, as something still free of genre divisions. ..And they did it for the innocent unprejudiced public, that sincerely joined this unusual experience, beyond its everyday expectations. Because the public felt that to be a part of the unusual days of changes and transformations, part of their unusual days, surprise to their usual lives.
The world may choose to make its authenticity legitimate and may produce pieces of eternity to compare them to yesterday pieces of eternity, that were just yesterday produced. Our need for history and ‘historicism’ is but the acknowledgment of our intellectual immunity sufficiency.
I want to draw my strawberry, feeling free and young, I do not want to know why I want that. Time interprets things in one way or another, now lending them the privilege of naming them works of art, then refusing them that same privilege, depending on what it needs. I can do that too. I am the navel string of my works and society, I cannot represent that string: I can only be it.
Yet this pattern belongs to my country only, it is a room in my house. A room with a view. I can not imagine the contexts I have to fit into outside that room, and I have to hide behind my work of art, behind the text I present. I have to hide behind what will be exposed to further interpretations, evaluations, opinions, beyond my wish, awareness control.
I am drawing my strawberry in my room, and yet I am getting ready to leave it. I have been invited somewhere, somewhere wished me to go. I don’t feel like a missionary, neither like an exotic animal. I accept to go there and to be different. Or is it that I want to make my strawberry legitimate?
Performance ends where Genre begins.
Sofia, March 19th 96 Ventsislav Zankov
* This text was presented at the Annula Conference of the Preformance Studies Department, The Northwestern University in Chicago, held in March 1996 top
BECAUSE . . . top
'. . . the sky is blue it makes me cry. . . '
‘The Fool on the Hill’, The BEATLES
We've picked it up, we really did. We've got the access to the world, at last, the access to 'here & now’. We were slow to get it: it's the peculiar 'sterility of our recent past. Our past: to the East of the West. Our past: lost into the dead ends of Hi-story. The story of a different world: the story of our own happened to be too painful to be told.
Funny how easy it was to press the DELETE button on the keyboard. Amnesia pushed us into the present . . .
‘PORTAPAK . . .PORTAPAK was in the beginning’1. Not for us, though: we could not find our beginning. Trying really hard to put up the puzzle of our world, we belonged to chaos. Our groping hands, the hands of a kid over his first drawing. Our past: still holding us back. Our future: still hoping to come true. Our being: still clinging to the present. And the present has always been the faithful companion to oblivion. Oblivion that invitingly teases us away . . . and away from the distortions of 'keeping you informed', from the instant access to the world, the Access anytime anywhere, anyhow. . .
We've been sinking into the 'uni-sex' everyday life, deprived of the time zones, missing the sunset and missing the sunrise. A virtual everyday life, a barren reality, caught into the web of optic cables, magnetic waves, licked into the tight hold of 1 to 0. It's the everyday life without scent or colour, that painfully pierces through my delicate present.
We seem to be fully obsessed by the power of the feminine: after all that's the power of obsession. We seem to have broken with the piercing power of the masculine. We seem to be sheepishly waiting for the pregnant time to give birth to . . . something. How funny that a human population of negative birth rates for a long time now, consistently ignores sterility as most unlikely.
We've plopped into the chaos of uncontrollable PROGRESS. The rules of the quantum theory baldly rushed into the macro world. Our virtual spaces: do we really have them? They rather belong to the world of COMPUTING: CD ROMs, evoking memories of casting spells for happier dreams. Reads Only Memory. Whose is this memory anyway?
D'you want to review your last dreams? Do you want to open them and play for a while? We-e-e-e-ell, Random Access Memory (RAM)2 is all you need. RAM, that is Raging Animals, Man: it is the way you process your emotions; the active stage of sleep. WAKE UP is the EXIT. THE GAME IS OVER.
The cutting edge of chaos, smoothly threading our minds: everything's under control. You have the access. The access to the Network. No Guarantee, though. Trust it the way kids do. Wide-eyed, curious . . . and cunning. Like teenagers pick-pocketing the Worlds virtual supermarkets. It's a super INTERNET, isn't it?
It feels like holiday- making: we are occidental tourists, most of us. It's a dazzling breath-taking journey away from our bodies. They are still desperate to hold us, yet we keep our eyes on the endless virtual reams, endlessly attractive . . . As soon as you want to know who made INTERNET, you've got the answer: YOU do. INTERNET lives on reality, kills reality, turns into its ridiculous substitute. The NETWORK feeds on YOUR LIFE, squeezing your blood and flesh into digital units, taking your freedom and giving you the absolute freedom instead. Seducing you with the absolute gift of unlimited communication. And in the meanwhile the absolute freedom slowly and irreversibly takes the shape of pure chance.
Our meetings in the network, all by chance, the things we come upon, again by chance, there, the small escapes we make, BY CHANCE . . . Like the walks downtown on Saturdays: we know the streets, the avenues, we meet the people we know and the people we don't, we meet new people, and sometimes we have accidents. Staying home feels safer.
The network is full of friendly 'creatures', of risk-free presence-s. No way to get into a personal (nor physical) contact with anybody. Risk being reduced to zero. Like emptiness, like the very absence of action. Viruses can get your computer, but they can't get YOU. It's the computer that you share, after all, not your body. It's a screened love, safe sex. Life-saving sex. Computers like condoms.
And we . . . we remain legal aliens in the network. Map-less3, locked into our horizontal roots, missing the bliss of the vertical. No horizons, you need your horizon, I need mine, we badly need our horizon.
The road map of the city, the cross-roads, the tourist sites, the churches, the hotels, the airport and the station, the stadiums, the gardens, the city buildings, all these signs, these inviting pictograms, these sweet guiding lines, we miss them. The rest is the NETWORK.
Staying home feels safe. It feels home. My home is my fortress. Next comes my neighborhood, my town, my country, the region, the continent, the E. . . . All these parallel cycles going round me. Parallel cycles of information, levels of being informed, levels of feeling home. Following the outer circle turns out in the end to be like moving along a straight line. This is the weird geometry of information.
The bits of everyday life, tiny drops in the sea of information, get imbued with the resonant power of phenomena, and phenomena, in their turn, dying out like gentle waves without a virtual trace.
The order of logic chains has been violated. We've been attacked by the code of values of global mass media. Self-generating, self-interpreting, interfering with one another vampires. Reality brought to destruction, reduced to few bare traces over the screen. Light flooding out of it: without source or reason.
Shooting pictures, hunting for sweet memories, video memories: Japanese tourists in front of the LOUVRE. The camera brings experiences back home, the camera recording your experiences, keeping the proofs that you are alive. The camera watching instead of you. Watching and recording. You once and fo ever relieved by the burden of remembering, of telling stories and proving: the camera will tell it for you, will give you a lift to the TV screen and you will BE there, GOLGHOTA LIVE. It’s your life, Your adventure, that is but part of the Global Adventure4. The adventure of TV. TV improvises events LIVE. Watch CNN. The Global EYE. The World being substituted, NOW, with its present image. NOW, at this very moment. The TV technology of watching, the almighty ruler of our time. Your watching ability grow wildly: and you can see the past NOW5, you can see the ends of the earth . . . NOW . . .You won’t miss the ends of the world: you will have it LIVE6 on your TV. Feeling dizzy, standing indifferently in front of our TV screens, we seem to meditate. Like Buddha, watching its meditating virtual image, now and forever. Spectator of his own self in present continuous tense7. A closed circuit for distant observation, the last stage being to give back to reality . . . its distorted image. The TV screen is the real place of events. Once you reach for the screen you violate the event8. This ritual is older than SONY, older than PORTAPAK. From now on and forever after the TV set shall be part of the VIDEO ART9, but TV programs shall not. Because the art of watching is an intimate ritual, the most intimate act of man. You don’t share your eyes, do you? The TV programs give you a rent offer, they watch for you . . . until you get lost into millions of watchers . . . sharing the TV eye. Yet we can see things in different ways10.
The TV sabotages reality through its substitution. We live in the age of global communications, substitutes and simulations all around us, we enjoy instant access to everywhere and anytime . . . which leads us back to the deadlock of virtual reality. The ghastly shadow of substitution. We, on our turn, are being teased to substitute reality with its image, to simulate reality. We have the video for that. We can have the water run like water through our screens, we can have the swimmer swim from one TV screen to another11. . .
The Age of Substitute. Object-ivity has been substituted with its reflection object-ivity, with a relevant information about it. The compression of information is skyrocketing, eating our beings, jamming our computers. Mona Lisa is reduced to USD and bytes12. The same goes for Claudia Schiffer. We keep upgrading the memories of our PCs to enter the Louvre, with our bums closely embraced by the armchairs we sit in, our eyes fixed on the PC screens, our hands clicking now and then over the mouse. . . as long as the enchantment goes. . .And one summer day, when we happen to get there, our stupid holiday smiles on our faces, what will our helpless tourist eyes see. . . maybe that the millions of reproductions are true with the original?
. . . Ready or not, here we go, . . . the next step in the sprint of progress is the chance to be subject to the common denominator of ‘interactivity’ . The next step into the abyss of the virtual this journey away from the bodies we live in, away from the places, that our bodies know so well, away from the simple lessons that gravity taught us. And the pains, the sweet pains, that our bodies give us, our precious bodies that we need to keep fit for the sake of others . . . Our heavenly bodies need maintenance, . . . like our expensive cars. These are our signs of luxury. Our expensive bodies have been launched into the orbit of an universalized aesthetics, ‘ORBIT sugar fee’: go to fitness, the plastic surgery is unbelievable, escape the jaws of time, erase the traces it leaves on your body, . . . the bodybuilding will lend you the figure of an Old Greek hero. . . or god. How very much delightful is the epic effort to be the sculptor, shaping our own body. Michelangelo’s David has been magnificently shaped . . . and for long dead now. How very much delightful is the effort to join the museum collection of the 20th century: the realm of movie stars, pop singers, fashion models, of beauty and grace, of pin-up proportions, of dazzling teeth . . . Yet Michelangelo did not care a fig if David had a tooth cavity or not . . .
Museum pieces have become useless: they can easily be preserved as artificial memory. On the other hand the strife to describe and restore, to embalm and preserve has grown far beyond any human potential for grasping the accumulated and carefully preserved traces of human activities. The mummies never belonged to our world. They never tried to conquer our time, they never lived our lives until they got them exhumed. Exhumation is a deficiency in giving evidence for real life, striving to find its own grounds for existence beyond itself. Its’ the life deprived of its memory, groping helplessly for support in history14.
Museums will be closed down when we succeed to dismiss our bodies . . . or maybe when we get rid of our necessity to have material evidences for our existence.
We’ve tried really hard to cling to the material part of our world . . .
Sharing the effort to find, to keep and preserve, we embalm our memory, we get rid of our tiny sweet remembrances. We have desperately tried to get over time, to fight oblivion, and yet . . we forgot that they hide this precise selection, that they lend this subtle decoration, that they keep the doors to eternity.
We gracefully led our feelings to memory, memories on their turn ignite emotions, that belong to the past, yet still keep feeding the present.
Collective memory gives birth to myths and legends: history can only kill them with its cool objectivity.
As long as the Past has not been caught into the claws of History, it is still breathing.
The facts we invent, the documents we produce, the symbols we grasp: we’ve tried really hard to keep the Past, to have it fixed, polished and properly esteemed. To have it always in front of us, neatly arranged on the shelves of the years and centuries. To have it always at hand at moments when relief is needed. When paragon is needed. When punishment is sought. When reason is to be found or a lesson to be learnt. Our childhood memories tell us about the lessons hidden in the fairly tales, yet they also tell us that lessons come last.
Let us assume that today we are finally facing the end of History, the end of our history at least, then maybe the Past will be brought to life again, life then may never be the same. And let us finally recognize the Apocalypse, we’ve waited for so long, and see behind the anxiety to become different.
The fear to get rid of all imperatives of History, to discard ethics, aesthetics, morality and law. The grounds for our own existence, falling apart around us. The fear to lose our barren values, lost for good in the labyrinths of politics, the modes of rationality, the laws of economics, the everyday life of everyday concerns. We simply do not need them, yet nobody dares to admit it, to articulate it into words. We still fear the unimaginable consequences to setting free 'the evil'. We are still part of the effort to keep ‘what is good’.
It would e senseless to lend our memory to the artificial memory. Chased away by our fear for oblivion we get over time and space: we enter the network with brace hearts, pretending we don’t feel the amnesia, befalling on us. Communications, media, and artificial memory push us towards total amnesia, yet this is our chance to survive the memory of objects, the memory of History, our collective memory. . .
It may be painful and fearsome to lend14 our bodies to the virtual worlds that invite us, to surrender to the alien dreams, waiting for us. How about if they remind us of HELL? How about if we proudly subject our bodies to the perfect artificiality, to the superb subtlety and immortality that modern medicine can helpfully provide? We will be the living mummies of the next century.
WE-E-E-E-LL, we’ve tried hard to keep to our material world, didn’t we?
Here we go again . . . let’s get over time, let’s fight space. You don’t have remember things any more, surrender to your new memories, to your virtual memories. Be brave: surrender to the memory of things that have never been and hope for the myths about the people from the Christian Eon to come out . . . somehow.
It is maybe that the computers, that have taken our memory, will bring us back to our memories, the living memories about the human kind.
We are facing the end of our century, with the appropriate foretelling about our future. . . Waiting for the Anti- Christ to appear. At last. It seems we badly need him. . .
Yet cathedrals will survive . . .we still have the chance to let time pass by, ruin and destroy, and give a chance to memories to come back alive. I guess we may call it “entropy”, or we may call it anything we like: it will be still the chaos flooding on us . . . we still have our ultimate responsibility in our hands: to be ourselves.
The sea of Oblivion may drown us, but this is our chance to become different. The Past can survive Oblivion and come back to life in the Present. Past will never be the same anyway, yet it can breath again in its legend.
1 Portapak is the first portable, ? inch film video camera, produced by the SONY Corporation in the mid-60ies, that appeared on the American market in 1968.
2 The Random Access Memory is also essential. Unlike the video tape where the access is linear, the access to memory in computer technologies is random similar to the functioning of the brain. The ways information is processed in computer technologies resembles the way in which the brain processes memories and emotions during the active phase of dreaming. Virtual realities in general and computer animation in particular become our new electronic dreams. If we assume that video art abides the technology of seeing then it comes out that computer-generated images belong to the technology of dreaming. Computer art is rooted in the technique of dreaming.
3 A parallel with the road maps is implied here, which present a scheme of the road network with its highways. (allusions about information highways, terminals and hosts).
4 Rassim Krastev, a young Bulgarian video artist recorded with a video camera a TV screen on which invisible spectator randomly switches from one satellite channel to another. Among the well known satellite programs the author inserted short cuts from his everyday life, shot live, with no montage or any logical sequence: like phone conversations, bodybuilding sessions, love making. The impression is that the author’s personal life is on TV, together with the popular satellite TV programs. Maybe it is the author’s sincere intention to set his everyday life bits in the context of TV shows, movie stars, etc.
5 Wulf Herzogenrath or his idea about the mirror room, similar to the work of Dan Graham ‘Present Continuous Past, 1974. Live camera and TV screen play like a mirror in this case. The camera reflects the spectator in the present moment and the TV screen give a reflection three seconds later. The spectator can see his paste, that just passed, or his present, that is already passing by. By the words of the artist this work is a philosophical essay on Perception, Being, Past and Present.
6 A kind of a dress rehearsal ‘The WAR in the Gulf LIVE’.
7 One of the simplest and most telling examples of a Closed Circuit Installation in Video Art is the work of Nam June Paik ‘TV BUDHA’/1974. A wooden sculpture of Budha is placed in front of a TV set, with its image LIVE, transmitted by a video camera. The TV picture is live, static and motionless.
8 Nam June Paik, Richard Nixon Videotape study N3, 1967-69. Together with Jud Yalkut they distort and manipulate the picture of the on-going TV show. This is their way to comment the policy and the message of the TV show.
9 One man exhibition at the New School for Social Research: ‘Nam June Paik: Electronic TV, Colour TV Experiments, 3 Robots, 2 Zen Boxes & 1 Zen Can’. TV sets are used in this exhibition to give the spectator the chance to join the production of TV images. One of the works, presented at the exhibition (Life Ring, 1965) comprises of an electric magnet, ring-shaped, placed in front of a TV set, The magnet interferes with the light waves and as a result they visualize the magnet waves themselves. These experiments introduced the pattern of spectator controlled TV. This concept is basic to all Paik’s work.
10 It is probably a sheer coincidence that the social and political collisions in the States during 60ies run parallel to the extensive introduction of video technologies on the market. We see in different ways, documentary videos are a good example, alternative TV may be another one. Feminists found their video, their electronic image and response.
11 Studio Azzurro il nuotatore 1984
12 In the meantime Bill Gates bought all copyrights over the Louvre digital collection.
13 Portable cameras provides the evidence we need in our personal lives, it creates our personal history. Every significant step we make should be recorded: we need to remember that we got married, that we were here and there, felt this way or that way, some really boring hours filled with videotape.
14 Motion capture: for the purposes of animation it is already a practice. During certain computer simulations actors may lend their bodies as a source of movement, his task being to act the motion. Via the sensors on the body of the actor the computer interprets it as a material for movement, further the computer may lend any body to the movement lened by the actor. This holds not only for the movements of the body: the movements of face, caused by emotions may also be interpreted this way. The computer memorizes the movement of expression and lend it to any other face.
„The art of Ventsislav Zankov, born 1962, is anthropocentric. He demonstrates with consistency and true commitment that his ego is the main anthropoid in his works. Zankov keeps experimenting over himself in search of intellectual phenomena behind life’s material manifestations. His performances render naturalistic presentations of humanist metaphors, presented with the ruthlessness of everyday routine. The author is interested in the structural relations of the world we live in and cuts them down to their elemental meanings without the fear that the whole might get lost or changed. Interpreting is not among his goals, his powers rather lie in the revelation of these elements, in tearing them naked. Zankov achieves that through „accumulating“ associations, through arranging dramatic „pick“ circumstances or intervening/ changing the structure of reality/event and thus revealing the pattern behind.“
Lettre Internationale, Jara Boubnova, August 1995
„...Zankov’s exhibition of paintings at the MIX Gallery in Sofia is an event in itself. The author of performances, installations, and happenings is now presenting oil paintings to the public. Faces - symbols of movies, fashion magazines, posters and adverts are looking at the visitor, from the 3 meter long canvases, symbols of everything that is daily intruding on us. The canvas is in fact an aggression against the viewer, and that is exactly what the author meant: to shock and outrage, to force us into understanding. „When I lost the sense of things my themes came” Zankov says. the world of false promises, of foreign culture (that we follow automatically, unaware of our lost identity) has invaded the Gallery. The outright and at times brutal appeal of some of his works is only the first impression they make. There is the pain behind the aggressiveness: the artist’s gesture leaves a trace in us and insists on finding the message behind. The exhibition of Venstislav Zankov is an outcry against the misunderstood fads and the indifference to our own selves in the world of moral values, torn apart, of intellectual vacuum and lack of perspective. The way out, suggested by the author, is through facing the truth about us, here and now. ....We are present: philistine traps still have not got hold of us all...”
the Last Challenge of Avant-Garde Artist Zankov,
Continent Newspaper, 1995
„ The artist Ventsislav Zankov is standing in front of m, in his studio, showing me his new works. Taking them out from „a secret place” and arranging them, one by one, propped up against the wall. He asks me not to write about them in this interview, there’s an exhibition coming soon...I am looking at them and I pretend I don’t see. He adds a word here, another there, asks me a question, we turn back to the pictures for a while, and Ventsi takes them back to the secret place. He did not let me inside. “Sense makes no sense” is his receipt about modernity and video-art.
What is Video-art anyway?
This is not our story, we did not made it. It has been already told - and besides told somewhere else. Our part is, if we take there is video-art in Bulgaria, to interpret meanings that have already been articulated. Performance was in the beginning. Performance, videoinstallation, videosculpture. The aesthetics of Videoart may be interpreted along three main aspects. First, The TV image is exploited as simulation of reality, a kind of transformation. Second, TV images may be used as structural elements. In aesthetic terms the TV image, similar to the canvas and the paints, may be regarded as means of expression. videosculptures are made this way: the TV screen and the image displayed on it, build up a fiction world that has little to share with reality. The TV image as means of expression is fairly limited in potential: it makes room for a variety of interpretations, yet it remains limited....Third comes the aesthetic aspect: let’s take an example, you put a lodestone over the TV set and get a distorted image as a result. That is to give new meaning to communication values: there’s more to TV than the vision itself. In fact, that was my motivation to attempt a videoinstallation titled „The Last Supper”: 13 TV screens, displaying one and the same image of a man (Christ implied) and the images talking to one another. At the same time it’s a man talking to himself. This is a real talk, with dialogues, interrupted by pauses, participants listening to each other, casting quick glances...
Is there Video-art in Bulgaria?
We are still in the middle of the 60ies, just before the video-art was about to come into the world. ..Performances, for example, haven’t yet grown into a distinct art genre. They are still to grow round and full fledged, to be got over and transformed into true art. Video-art in Bulgaria is compilating in character and vague as a concept, because it is rather an imitation than a logical consequence - it is still to be developed, to be grasped as both necessary and aesthetically appropriate.
How come that young Bulgarian artists often turn to narratives from the Bible?
Because there is no understanding about what’s going on around. You keep feeling your way towards something safe and stable. Hunting authenticities from the past. It is safe, because it has been put to the test many times. I don’t meant the aesthetic part, I mean the attitude. At least you will not blow the theme.
You mean artists today blow themes?
There is the fear to look around, to see where you are. To avoid fear you turn to something different. Maybe that is the reason for the fairly successful performance of evangelical priests in Bulgaria....because we avoid asking questions; what’s on? who am I? what is my part in this? Who am I? A Hybrid of something and something else, of something and nothing?! And preachers promise the world to you, and comfort, and escape from questions. You’ve found sense somewhere else.
Video-art is an alternative interpretation of the media, it lends a new way of understanding the world. Of grasping time. The relation between art and TV generates the opposite response - to find an alternative to TV as a phenomenon. To get over the traditional attitude: watching and watching without an effort to grasp it aesthetically. To push the TV out of its status of „my world connection”. To find the object and the picture in it. I don’t mean that the TV should generate art. It is a prerequisite. That is the way I imagine civilization came into birth. It is pretty simple: you start shooting your performance, next you look closer into the thing you’ve shot and get to seeing the image behind. It is not the action, it’s the appearance...next you come to fooling around your camera....and that is the simplest way to do it. ......”
Diliana Vassileva, My Ideal Viewer is a Corpse.....Video-art in Bulgaria?, Democracy Newspaper, April 27, 1995
„Ventsislav Zankov and Tsveatn Krastev are two young artists whose works have an immediately recognizable spirituality. Shortly after the changes, Zankov, Bulgaria’s leading performance artist, created a series of sensual, minimalist bronze and white plaster temples, offering refugee from the chaos of contemporary life. At the Lessedra gallery in February 1992, Zankov temples of separate often nested pieces, arched over one another to powerfully define the space around them.”
Sculpture Magazine, Washington D.C., July - August 1993
„ Performance artist Ventsislav Zankov also deals with myth and religion - he frequently appears as a life-giver, a robed Christ, or a doctor. In his Limits of Agony performance last year, he appeared garbedin white robes, observed the slaughter of cattle at the local butcher, and made blood imprints on the carcasses.”
ARTnews Magazine, January 1993
„...Ventsislav Zankov can hardly be considered to belong with the group of artists, whose names have been chaotically and often for no good reason related to the unconventional manifestations in the field of visual arts. I can make at least two points in favour: he is consistent in his strategy of expression and the results from his artistic activities bear the drive of an unceasing provocativeness. There aren’t many artists today that can afford resisting the temptation of repeating „guest visits” into different imagery, content and visual territories ( that often reduces the possibility to accept them as serious authors)...”
Boris Danailov, The Challenge of the Artist,
Democracy Newspaper, June 1995
„...Ventsislav Zankov made a series of performances,....charged with consistent philosophical and aesthetic position, that brought together his works under the motto of his exhibition “The Limits of Agony”...”
Mariana Yakimova, “The Limits of Agony”,
“Culture” July 1/7, 1992
„...Only the work of Ventsislav Zankov suggests “sculpture” feelings, because of its distinct spatial stylistics. Yet this work reminds rather of a remnant from an ancient Eastern civilization, or of a totem, guarding sacred places than a piece of modern art...”
Diana Popova, Wood-Carved Sculptures and Cold Winter,
Pulse, October 9th 1990
„...yet I also know his sure touch in drawings, his performances at sculpture symposia, his sculptures at the Doctors’ Park, torn down by strangers....let him keep his unrest and the core of his inspiration...”
Anton Kafezchiev, Literature Forum, March 11/17, 1992
„The genre of Park Sculpture or plastic art in open air have been for long considered to be second quality. The monument in the center of the town square, with its, instructive, moralizing and other totalitarian functions, was the paragon of organizing public space...Are we ready now to take sculpture for what it really is?...Before yielding to the sheer pleasure that the works of sculptor Zankov brings our public should grasp the new criteria that rule the process of artistic recognition today: the artist’s personal merits, his drive and ability to take risks. This young sculptor is trying to prove it: he takes his work and his public to his heart only.”
Maria Vasileva, Art as Lightning Conductor,
Youth Newspaper, October 18, 1992
„...The “RED” Performance of sculptor Zankov was not only a strange and unknown experience to the public, it was also a elaborately designed and subtly played performance. ....A performance can hardly be put into words, it’s even more desperate to try and describe an avant-garde performance...Still he have a clue to think over...let the true and strange works of art never end...”
Margarita Metodieva, Thirty Litters of Blood on the Snow,
Democracy Newspaper, February 26, 1991
„...it is a breath-taking transition. Straight after the entrance of Bulgarian TV bldg. entrance you sneak into a rickety yard, full of cars, and behind them the poster of the happening is hanging carelessly: ”The Creation”...You come from the sunlight and sink into a cool darkness, stinking of must, acetone, dust and barley...Huge flakes of dry old paint are hanging from the walls and down the ceiling like yellow afternoon bats, they will drop down any moment...I am leaping over bricks, small pools, old shoes, iron rods, swarfs, must-covered mirrors, blown down doors... I feel awkaward in the old brewery of Proshek Brothers, not used to the avant-garde. But I first come into a hall, turned into a cave and full of gigantic boilers, pipes and cranes. They are shining. Ventsi (Ventsislav Zankov) has turned them into “Light Machines”. This is my first encounter with giving new meaning to this negative zone... I am not looking for symbols and messages, I don’t try recalling schools and trends. I only feel atavistic resistance to it all....AND I LIKE IT. It is wonderful to make rust shine again...”
Yuri Lazarov, Heptameron: Art in Action,
1000 Days Newspaper, August 1991
„...”The Creation” Happening moved to the Doctors’ Park where after a substantial “blood transfusion” of avant-garde art the Cosmic Tree of Venstislav Zankov came to growth...”
Spasiana Evtimova, „The creation” Happening - Art in Action, Democracy Newspaper, July 1991
„...Zankov’s exhibition was the week’s most impressing art event...the author is a real representative of untraditional artistic thought and expression. Both the elite among journalists’ guild and the Prime minister with his modest and intelligent presence, attended the inauguration of the exhibition. Some of the artists stood on the alert: when an avant-garde exhibition was last attended by a politician (it was Hruschov in the end of 60ies), bulldozers appeared there on the following day and tore it down. This time, to everybody’s relief the exhibition survived...”
Valentin Sapundjiev, From Friday to Friday,
Free Nation Newspaper,February 28/March 5, 1992
„...Zankov’s exhibition at the Lessedra Gallery, presenting drawings and small size sculpture, that seem to be messages from ancient time and provide interesting rendition of pre-historic forms and symbols. The sculpture images of “cathedrals” remind of children’s sand castles, built up on the sea shore....the intriguing architectonics in the juxtaposition of sculpture elements turns every single work into a hieroglyph...”
Velislava Stoyanova, The chaos from the beginning of the World has been ordered in Lozenets, Evening News Newspaper, April 7, 1992
„... Sculptor Zankov, with a torch-lamp in hand is welding a rusted iron cage and the public of the new performance at 199 Theater in Sofia will go through it on their way to the theater hall. The installations appear at the entrance of the thereto, go round the stage and the seats of the visitors...the broken clockwork of Ventsi Zankov adds to the grotesque touch of the everyday stage setting, consisting of a bike, a toilet seat and a dirty frying pan...timelessness and the cage, being the vehicles of the authors’ message...”
Matilda Yordanova, Avant-Garde for 199 Seats, Free Nation Newspaper
October 22, 1991
„...Ventsislav Zankov: “A Room”( a real bed-spring, placed over spread sheets of “Rabotnichesko Delo” Newspaper, the ex-Communist Party official newspaper,a child’s cot with an embrio in it, a table with some glasses of water put on it, and in the glasses we leave our lives at peace before going to bed: a denture, an eyes and a phalus..”
Mariana Katsarova, An Attempt to Shriek Amidst Our Everyday Existence, Free Nation, N 66
1995 Stefanov, Svilen: “The Ego” as an aesthetic object, Iskustvo [Art in Bulgaria], magazine, 21/95, p.18-19.
Bogdanova Galina: Ventsi Zankov Strips Female Bodies Naked “Without Innosence”, Sedmichen Standart [Standard Weekly], June 11, 1995.
J.B.: The art of Ventsislav Zankov..., Lettre Internationale, magazine, 8/1995.
Polyakov Stepan: Avant-Garde Artist Outrages Philistines, Democratsia [Democrasy], June 9, 1995.
Vagalinska Irina: Spiders and Blood for Painting Connoisseurs, Novinar [Newsman], June 9, 1995.
Petkova Valia: Love Only Feels Better than Sex, Noshten Trud [Labour, evening edition], June 8/9, 1990.
1994 Soros Center for the Arts: N FORMS ? Reconstructions and Interpretations; Catalogue, p.66.
Kolev, Georgi & Lessedra : Contemporary Bulgarian Art, Catalogue, volume two, p. 111.
Vassileva, Dilyana: My Ideal Spectator is a Corpse; Is There Videoart in Bulgaria - Dilyana Vassileva talks to Ventsislav Zankov, Demoracia [Democracy], 27 April 1994, p. 6.
1993 Anderson, Geneva: Dossier Sofia, Sculpture, July - August 1993, p.21,Washington D C , USA.
Anderson, Geneva: A New Noah’s Ark, ARTnews, January 1993, p. 45.
Petkova, Stanislava: The Lips of Betina Champoeva - an Art Exhibit, 24 chasa [24 Hours], 31 March 1993.
1992 Stoyanova, Velislava: The Chaos since the Beginning of the World Has Been Ordered in Lozenets, Vecherni novini [Evening News], No 66, 7 April 1992.
Nankov, Nikita: Autophagia, Art, 5-11 March 1992, p. 1.
Belle, Eugenie: The Descendant of a Macedonian Revolutionary and a Russian Ballerina Paints in Blood and Claims that We Are Living in a Bog of Shit, Noshten zhivot [Night Life], 1-14 April 1992, p. 2.
Grozdanov, Dimiter: Mass and State-Expropriated avant-garde, Kultura [Culture], No 28, 10 July 1992, p. 1.
Ivanov, Kalcho: The Limits of Agony Executed by the Blood-Stained King of the Avant-Garde, Troud [Work] from Friday till Monday, 14-17 February 1992, No 7, p. 16.
Simova, Borislava: The Boundaries in Which Man, Words and Things ..., Demoracia [Democracy], No 36, 12 February 1992, p. 2.
Belle, Eugenie: Blood from the Slaughterhouse Passes Straight Through the Heart (interview), Spectar [Spectrum], No 28, 15-22 July 1992.
Sapoundjiev, Venelin: From Friday to Friday, Svoboden narod [Free Nation], No 8, 28 Feb. - 5 March 1992, p. 11.
Dinova, Liliya: Avant-gardism - a Close-Up, Podkrepa [Support], No 35, 12 February 1992, p. 2.
Svrakov, Krassimir: Zankov Presents Himself the Second Part of His Trilogy The Boundaries of Agony, Fax, No 29, 12 February 1992.
Ekimova, Mariana: The Boundaries of Agony, Express Journal, No 2, 1-7 July 1992, p. 43.
1991 Yordanova, Matilda: Avant-Garde for 199 Seats, Svoboden narod [Free Nation], No 394, 22 October 1991, p. 4.
Nikolov, Borislav: Who Will Save Bulgarian Culture? Anteni [Antennae], No 41, 9 October 1991, p. 1.
Lazarov, Yuriy: Heptameron, 1000 Dni [1000 Days], August 1991, p.7.
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