Ventsislav Zankov on 11 Jan 2001 14:53:21 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] interview with prof. Antonio d'Avossa!

Interview with Italian critic Antonio d'Avossa
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Interviewed and edited by David D'Agostino
15/12/2000 Sofia Bulgaria

DD:  You came to Bulgaria with a certain intention or perception about the
contemporary art scene.  Now that you have met Bulgarian artists and seen
their actual work, have your ideas been affirmed or have they changed?

AD:  This is the first time for me to visit Bulgaria, although I have
visited other Balkan countries before. Last year I was in Sarajevo for one
week.  I feel a great energy among the young artists in this region of
Europe.  Yesterday in Sofia I saw the work of five or six young artists (and
the more interesting were Ivan Kiuranov, Ventzislav Zankov with his ZetMag
and Boryana Dragoeva and also the russian Oleg Mavromatti)  and I think it's
the same as in Sarajevo; the level of work is good, but here there is not a
relevant system for the artist.  You cannot find here a center for
contemporary art, there is not a market, there are not galleries, there are
not collectors, there are not critics, and young critics do not have
opportunities to review.  So, there is big energy, more than in Western
Europe, but at the same time it is without legs.

DD: Do you feel if there were more critics and artists from the west who
were willing to spend longer periods of time here, it would make a
difference?  Let me share something, it is very rare to find an Italian
artist or Spanish artist living in the East.  This not only includes the
Balkans, but also the Middle East -- it's very rare for them to perceive any
reason to live and work in Sofia.

AD: I don't think this is a problem.   The problem is with artists who have
to migrate from the East to the West.  Last year I proposed, in the European
capital of Brussels, an exhibition titled Europe Out  Europe.  I included
artists from Russia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, between the ages
of  30-45.  So here we were, in the center of European political and
economic power, and the commission that was responsible for the project
defined it as a political project.  The way this [exhibit] was treated in
Brussels is a signal to me about how artists of these countries are obliged
to emigrate.  This is one of the first issues that I wrote on this exhibit:
why are artists obliged to emigrate to Paris, to London, to Milan, to
Frankfurt, to be artists?

DD: Do you feel from your dialogue with artists here that Bulgarian artists
want to be affirmed by Western art critics, institutions,  museums,  and
galleries, and that there is a growing frustration because this type of
recognition is missing?

AD: I don't understand.

DD: Do you feel that Bulgarian artists emigrate out because there is a lack
of critical analysis or understanding by Western critics in Sofia.  It is
rare, for example, for an artist to receive a critique in Flash Art

AD: Or Art Forum...

DD: Yes, or any of these important periodicals..... so they feel this
necessity to move, to abandon their own country and perhaps never return.

AD:  This is a big mistake.  Before, I thought it was right, but now I think
it is a mistake to abandon the roots, the culture, and the problems of the
system.   Every system has the same problems, in Sarajevo, in Warsaw, in
Belgrade, the same problems. So I think now the artists must stay where they
come from to help change the problems.