More art in Sofia

A large theme for me this week has been an interest in the permanence of art.

But first, I wanted to talk about how much fun Cyanotype is.

Lidiya, one of the hosts of the World of Co Residency, ran a fantastic Cyanotype workshop on Friday. If you’re not familiar with the process, it was invented in 1842 as a method of copying documents and diagrams. It is the process by which blueprints were created. It’s very simple and involves placing objects, or photo negatives on top of paper which has a photosensitive chemical on it. Leave it in the sun for a bit then wash off the remaining chemicals, revealing an incredible blue and white print. There’s more to it than that, but it’s very easy to do and we made some fun things.

I really liked the process because of my interest in using double exposures in film photography. I enjoyed layering different images and textures. Lidiya also brought in several photo negatives she had made, which looked great when processed with cyanotype. I’m really happy with what we made and would like to continue to make more and experiment. I suppose that’s the other great thing about it as a process; there’s plenty of room to experiment.

Later that day, World of Co also organised a brilliant workshop with the artist Vitto Valentinov. He’s worked in many mediums, including film, but now focuses on creating participatory artworks, which I had never really looked into. Now, I want to know much much more.
He builds, what he described as, ‘child-like scientific experiments’ which the audience can participate in.
I would highly recommend visiting his website and investigating his many interesting artworks, which have all been incredibly well documented.

I like this idea of making art more involved, and am considering some aspect being put into my own work for the upcoming World of Co exhibition.
I’ve been thinking a lot about temporary things, and creating art which doesn’t take up too much physical space, or can be taken apart and reused easily. Trying to travel light, and being in a city drenched with centuries of history gives a sense of detachment, and a constant reminder that nothing lasts forever.

Continuing this idea was a terrific exhibition by Master’s students from the Digital Arts Program at the National Academy of Fine Arts. It was called Technical Obsolescence, and dealt with old and new technology being either thrown away or reused. There were many great ideas, like a 3D printer programed to print a 2D photo, and footage of the UN elections being filmed by an ipad with an augmented reality filter on which gives all the politicians long Pinocchio noses. My favourite, however, was a refitted old Nokia phone which took 168×96 pixel photos and uploaded them to this blog.

This is one of the few times I will post a selfie.

On the other side of this were my visits to the Bells monument and the museum of Soviet art. These featured statues and soviet monuments which are still standing to this day. The bells monument was actually set up to celebrate the UN’s year of the child in 1979, and is full of Bells from around the world. Some are missing, or broken, but most are still there. The huge monument still stands and is used for occasional performances. However, a note for future visitors: Only children are supposed to ring the bells. I am sadly not a child but, being the dumb tourist I am, I still rang most of them.
It was worth it.

The museum of soviet art was a large outdoors area with many statues taken from around the city from the Soviet era. These statues depicted leaders and workers. There are still some standing around in parks and areas of Sofia, but most have been moved here. They’re solid, durable reminders of a past that not everyone wants to remember, but serve as important reminders of the country’s history. Some of them also work as terrific toilets for birds.

So, after all this, what are my conclusions to these ideas about the durability of art? No idea. I’m still thinking. Come back next time.

All the very best,

Tim

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