Ventsislav Zankov

Art and/or Political Correctness

Project Proposal


Summary of the Project

The project will focus on the principles implemented in the financing of contemporary arts and culture. It will explore the interaction and the mutual influence among politics, culture, and the arts in the light of terms and concepts like “political correctness”, “multiculturalism”, “independent and alternative activities and organizations”, and “tolerance.” It will try to clarify those tendencies in contemporary East European art that have been induced by, on the one hand, the political and cultural priorities of different sponsoring agencies, and, on the other, by the desire to comply with the actual or imagined requirements of European unification. The expected result from the study will be the publication of a series of articles, interviews, and visual materials in Bulgarian cultural periodicals and in the electronic media. The goal of the project is to heighten the awareness of both sponsoring agencies and the general public about the problems that confront independent artists and groups in the specific (and not very friendly to art) situation of post-communist countries.


Preliminary questions

1.     Is there a market for themes, theses, and ideas in contemporary art? If yes, are they part of the social and political updates that accompany European unification?

2.     How does the link function between ‘non-commercial art’ and the ideological priorities of sponsoring agencies? How does sponsorship influence independent groups of artists and individual artists?

3.     What are the practical results from the implementation of ‘multiculturalism’ as a unifying platform for the contemporary arts?

4.     Is tolerance conductive to communication?

5.     Can communication be institutionalized by securing it financially?

6.     Censorship > auto-censorship > political correctness: what are the metamorphoses of artistic behavior with a view to adapting to the forms of sponsorship?

7.     Is it possible to speak about ‘political correctness” in the field of the politically correct: is self-reflexivity possible in this field?



The study will explore visual arts projects that have been supported by different sponsoring agencies in the last five years focusing on the principles that have guided the selection. It will deal predominantly, but not exclusively, with projects that have been implemented in Bulgaria, and with international projects which included Bulgarian participation. It will compare the sponsors, themes, participants, expected and actual results, as well as the responses to these projects. It will also study projects that have been rejected. It will be based on interviews with curators, artists, and sponsors; on media coverage and archives. My own experience as an artist and curator of a number of projects that have been sponsored (and rejected) by different international institutions will provide part of my material.


Work at IWM

In Vienna I intend to:

1. Conduct interviews and collect material in KulturKontakt Austria, one of the most active cultural agencies so far as South Eastern Europe is concerned.

2. Get acquainted with the cultural policies of governmentally supported, as well as private and independent cultural organizations, associations, and galleries.

3. Get acquainted with the cultural strategies and policies of independent publications (like Springerin) and their financing.

4. Interview the organizers and curators of the festivals in Gratz and Linz.

5. Get in touch with alternative groups and organizations and study their methods of financing, their projects and ideology (like Stadtwerkstatt Linz; ERGO group Graz; IG Kultur Wien; ROTOR; KulturAXE).

6. Last but not least, do research about the criteria and the activities of organizations that use the new media and Internet - more specifically, study the connection between activism and sponsorship in Net-culture (PUBLIC NETBASE MEDIA SPACE  Wien;
THE THING Vienna; A.C.T.I.O.N - kooperative kulturelle vernetzung )



A series of publications in the Bulgarian cultural weeklies Kultura and Literaturen Vestnik. Textual, audio and video publication on Internet. The New Bulgarian University will support the preparation of a CD-ROM with the researched materials and their analysis.