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Center for Contemporary Art – Plovdiv, The Ancient Bath

After PASOLINI – Visions of Today

An international group exhibition for the week of contemporary art, Plovdiv


04.09. – 04.10.2020
Opening 04.09.2020, 18:00 - 20:00

Exhibitions hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10:30 - 13:00, 14:00 – 19:00
day off Monday.

Francesco Arena, Elisabetta Benassi, Rada Boukova, Julian Cole, Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani, Pravdoliub Ivanov, Alfredo Jaar, Bouchra Khalili, Fabio Mauri, Milo Rau, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Krassimir Terziev, Ming Wong, Cerith Wyn Evans, David Wojnarowicz, Allegories of power (Deborah Imogen Beer & Gabriella Angheleddu, Karl-Heinz Dellwo, Fabien Vitali)

The Art Today Association – Center for Contemporary Art Plovdiv is proud to announce the group exhibition After PASOLINI – Visions of Today, bringing together in the Ancient Bath a variety of works by leading contemporary artists investigating the life and works of acclaimed influential Italian filmmaker, author, poet, and political activist, Pier Paolo Pasolini.

The exhibition brings together for the first time a considerable number of works by international artists who took and take up Pasolini, dealing and engaging with him in works of art that make use of him, his life and work as inspirational sources for explorations of both his significance, and the significance of artistic creation in highly politicized contemporary societies. Questions brought forward by Pasolini’s both critical and poetical diagnostic view of the world share a lot with the challenges we see ourselves confronted with today as societies and individuals, and the aim is to explore this through the works of equally seminal artists.

2020 marks the 45th anniversary of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s death, who was born in 1922 and murdered in the early hours of November 2, 1975 near the beach in Ostia by Rome, presumably by a lover; albeit many doubts remain on the backgrounds on his most likely ordered killing intended to silence him. The months preceding Pasolini’s death had been marked by his ever more poignant outspokenness on the social relations in Italy and the filming and postproduction of his controversial film masterpiece Sal?, or the 120 Days of Sodom, an ultimate study in the subjection of the human body under fascism’s violence. The one and the other, his intellectual contributions as well as his artistic work as a film director, joining forces to form a heavy critique of the corruption of the political and industrial caste. Famously declaring, »I know« in his Corriere della Sera column on several attempts at a coup d’?tat, especially the Piazza Fontana bombing in Milan on 12 December 1969, Pasolini wrote:
»I know the names of those responsible for what has been called a ›coup d’?tat‹ (but what in reality is a series of ›coups‹ instituted for the preservation of power). I know the names of those responsible for the Milan massacre of 12 December 1969. I know the names of those responsible for the Brescia and Bologna massacres of the early months of 1974. […] I know all of these names and I know all of the facts (attempts against the institutions and massacres) for which they have been responsible. I know. But I don’t have any evidence. I don’t even have clues.«

He concludes:
»I know because I am an intellectual, a writer who tries to follow everything that goes on, to know everything that is written about it, to imagine everything that is unknown or unspoken of; who connects even facts that are far apart, who puts together the disorganized and fragmentary pieces of an entire, coherent political picture, who restores logic where arbitrariness, folly and mystery seem to rule.« (Corriere della Sera, 14 November 1974; text today commonly known as Io So).

Perhaps one could not put more concisely than Pasolini in these words what characterizes the work of contemporary artists who, with a refined, seismographic attention to societies, and an intellectual self-consciousness that feeds upon imagination, register and process the realities of our poetical and political surroundings in works of art that become coherent pictures of the worlds we inhabit.

In the exhibition at the Ancient Bath, the artist who mirrored the challenges of global developments through the lens of his camera, becomes a lens himself through which contemporary artists embark on searches for truth in works that are equally diagnostic and poetical: in the face of a culture under threat, in the face of a decline of social and political structures, in the face of neoliberal capitalism§s unleashed violence. Pasolini himself becomes a signifier of the crucial questions he raised, of a critical take on anti-social and consumerist society; perhaps even an emblem of artistic truthfulness in a highly commercialized industry of contemporary art; and an allegory of what it means to live up to ideals of artistic, political and social integrity when engaging with the public. In a capitalist system built on growth and uninterrupted continuity, Pasolini§s loss of his life becomes a symbol of what is at risk, and what we should try to preserve, collectively.

A multifaceted character, Pasolini united a deep leftist, communist conviction with a critical distance towards the communist party; a pronounced criticism of the catholic church with religious feelings; an anti-modernist orientation towards language and archaic forms of life with avant-gardist artistic work; an engagement with leading intellectual figures of his time with seeking out communal forms of social life on the poor periphery of the metropole; a take on the narrative canon of myths and literature with a glowing interest in foreign countries. Through different artistic strategies and media, all of these topics are mirrored in the present exhibition. What we learn from the work on show is that in the face of current economic and social developments, Pasolini§s observations on post-war society§s mutations under the pressures of capitalistic modernization and the spreading of mass consumption have lost nothing of their urgency. His criticism of the consumerist stance is deeply rooted in an observation of the destruction of historical, regional and ecological diversity. One can distinguish core themes of his preoccupation that are as topical today as in his perception: Technological modernization, commercialization, forced mobility, communal coexistence, the question of how to live right, a search for purity and truth, the Third World as the future, the relation between the South and the North both in Italy, in Europe and in global terms. These are topics that his corporal thinking constantly senses, adding up to an insight that an artist§s felt responsibility in this world should be to perceive the intermediate zones between landmarks both contemporary and historical.

Following Plovdiv§s year as European Capital of Culture 2019, which it shared with Matera in Italy, where Pasolini filmed his masterwork The Gospel according to St. Matthew in 1964 and acclaimed theater director Milo Rau filmed a remake with African migrants last year about which he talks in an interview for the present exhibition in Plovdiv, this perspective forms a welcome background to the consideration of contemporary artistic engagement with challenges of our time, that are shared across societies.

The individual installations in the exhibition are accompanied by detailed accompanying texts and contextualizations of the individual artist contributions.

Curated by Bettina Steinbrugge, Kunstverein in Hamburg & Benjamin Fellmann, Warburg-Haus Hamburg

The Week of Contemporary Art is a project by Art Today Association, a member of Goethe-Institut’s international network of German cultural societies abroad.

With the support of Municipality of Plovdiv, Goethe-Institut Bulgaria

Media partners: BNT2, въпреки.com, Katra FM, Pod tepeto, Media Cafe, Kapana

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Fabio Mauri e Pier Paolo Pasolini alle prove di Che cosa e il fascismo, 1971
Stabilimenti Safa Palatino, Roma
©Fotografia: Elisabetta Catalano
Courtesy the Estate of Fabio Mauri and Hauser & Wirth


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Art Today Association

Week of Contemporary Art
Art. No Borders. Plovdiv.
September 1 – September 30, 2019
Center for Contemporary Art “The Ancient Bath” & SKLAD
week2019.arttoday.org/en

Art. No Borders. Plovdiv. presents internationally recognized artists from Europe, the USA, and Japan whose works deal with questions of our existence in the present day: who are we, the people of the 21st century; where are we going; and are we able to sacrifice some of our present comfort in order to preserve civilization for future generations? The exhibition focuses on three interconnected themes: the growing consumption that drains natural resources and how this leads to economic and political crises; the ever more frequent environmental disasters that have become a constant threat for humanity; and the fragility of human life, as well as that of the planet.
The central theme – and the starting point for the exhibition – is, of course, the art itself and its indisputable capacity to touch us emotionally and intellectually. Could it also mobilize individual actors and entire societies to undertake actions in this moment that is so very important, even critical, to humanity? By making use of various artistic media, the participants interpret and deepen the proposed topics, adding new aspects to them or trying to show possible ways to change the thinking and attitudes of society.
Turning people from pragmatism and materialism toward the spiritual values of civilization is the message of Bill Viola’s video installation Martyrs. Earth, Air, Fire, Water – a modern interpretation of the altarpiece. The path to self-knowledge and light passes through suffering and sacrifice, through humility before the powers of the natural elements. In contrast, our double human relationship with nature, poised between awe and the struggle with it as a prerequisite for progress, connects the works of Stoyan Dechev and Benedikt Partenheimer. The artists pose a question to themselves: has humanity not arrived at a critical point at which progress threatens to destroy its creators? The theme of Venelin Shturelov’s film Black Abstraction is similar: the obsession with acquiring raw materials is a foundation of the work, but in the vision of the artist, the consequences of these alarming processes become visible as an abstract concept of modern man – insignificant, impermanent, inconstant – like black smoke on the horizon.
The art documents, describes, and comments on cultures, political and identificational processes, (religious) beliefs, myths, and utopias. The artist appears as a sort of “tightrope walker” who, in Taus Makhacheva’s film, balances between their own attitudes – creative and human – and the norms of society – social and ideological. The artist enters into many different roles: concerned about what we will leave behind, the artist becomes a collector of evidence for the present day ((Mariko Hori); or else they create their own parallel reality themselves )scenocosme) as part of different simulated scenarios for what our digitalized future might look like.
The focus of the work of Sevdalina Kochevska is the present and its different worlds: not computer generated, but the real ones, in which physical and mental borders divide groups and societies from each other. For her part, Nadya Genova is interested in the individual and the multitude, which are in constant interaction.
The works enter into a dialogue with the spaces in which they are exhibited: while in the former Chifte Hamam, with its unique atmosphere, the works are oriented more towards the inner world of the person and encourage concentration and reflection, the space of the Tobacco Warehouses – and in a wider context, the Tobacco city – provoke the artists towards “extroverted” works connected with the dynamics of societal processes, in a context of the past and present function of the exhibition space.
Delphine Reist’s installation Continuous Growth of Consumption directs a critical gaze on capital and on its reproduction as a prerequisite for maintaining, at any cost, the current economic model towards which this same capital strives. “Reproduction” denotes a permanence which, within the framework of the system, resembles a closed circle from which there is no exit (Venelin Shurelov). Change requires engaged action. In this sense, Ute Richter doubts the positive meaning of the concept of “hope” or “hoping,” which for the artist is more likely to be an internal brake, a justification for inaction and resignation. And what are the mechanisms that generally dictate an individual’s precise behavior? What motivates us or holds us back from undertaking a given step? The installation of Group 7+1 creates conditions for researching these questions.
The clash between immigrants’ dreams of a better future and the sobering reality of the developed industrial world is shown in the Julian Rosefeldt’s film Asylum. In a world that literally revolves around money (the work by Emil Mirazchiev), the “art” of the deal, according to FAMED, is just as important as it is fraudulent, since it is never quite clear who’s winning and who’s losing.
Two works, one shown in the “Ancient Bath” and the other at SKLAD (the warehouse), close the conceptual framework of the exhibition. Communication and Coexistence, by Nia Pushkarova, consists of one sentence written in the braille alphabet: Through art, you change yourself and the world around you; it is the visible thread between the real and the tangible. Heather Lenz’s documentary film Kusama: Infinity, dedicated to the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, shows us that art is capable of turning trauma into a creative force, and the world – into a more beautiful and, perhaps, a more peaceful place to live.
Art. No Borders. Plovdiv. is part of the official program of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019. The designation of the city as the capital of culture is a privilege, a challenge, and an opportunity, and it provides the ideal context for the exhibition. On the one hand, Art. No Borders. Plovdiv. draws attention to problematic topics, but at the same time, it connects the city with a global cultural network, while attempting to give positive impetuses for a long-term change in thinking. And not least, the exhibition “celebrates” art, which knows no borders and is open to everyone.

Curators: Ilina Koralova and Emil Mirazchiev

Participants: Stoyan Dechev, FAMED, Nadia Genova, Mariko Hori, Sevdalina Kotchevska, Taus Makhacheva, Emil Mirazchiev, Benedikt Partenheimer, Nia Pushkarova, Delphine Reist, Ute Richter, Julian Rosefeldt, scenocosme, 7+1 Group (Yohannes Artinyan, Pantcho Kurtev, Ilko Nikolchev, Kamen Tsvetkov), Venelin Schurelov, Bill Viola

Special presentation:
September 3, 19:00, Lucky Cinema Theater
Kusama: Infinity, 2018, documentary film directed by Heather Lenz

This project is part of the official program of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019

The project has been carried out in partnership with the Goethe Institute and with the support of the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia and the EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee.

Media partners: BNT2, въпреки.com, Katra FM, Pod tepeto, Media Cafe, Kapana



ataArt Today Association
Center for Contemporary Art - Plovdiv
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Art Today Association

Week of Contemporary Art

Art. No Borders. Plovdiv.

September 1 – September 30, 2019

Center for Contemporary Art “The Ancient Bath” & SKLAD

Curators: Ilina Koralova and Emil Mirazchiev

Participants: Stoyan Dechev, FAMED, Nadia Genova, Mariko Hori, Sevdalina Kotchevska, Taus Makhacheva, Emil Mirazchiev, Benedikt Partenheimer, Nia Pushkarova, Delphine Reist, Ute Richter, Julian Rosefeldt, scenocosme, 7+1 Group (Yohannes Artinyan, Pantcho Kurtev, Ilko Nikolchev, Kamen Tsvetkov), Venelin Schurelov, Bill Viola
Kusama: Infinity, 2018, documentary film directed by Heather Lenz

This project is part of the official program of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019

Art. No Borders. Plovdiv. is the exhibition with which the Week of Contemporary Art celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Art knows no borders and is open to everyone – this is what world-renowned artists, among them indisputable stars from Europe, the USA, and Japan, will show us as they gather in Plovdiv to offer the public a powerful encounter with contemporary art.

The artists will draw our attention to current topics that affect all of humanity, without exception: the exhaustion of natural resources, the ever more frequent natural disasters which have become a constant threat for the world, and the fragility of both human life and that of the planet.

The fundamental questions that the exhibition poses through the works of the artists are: who are we, the people of the 21st century; where are we going; and are we capable of sacrificing part of our present comfort in order to preserve civilization for future generations? The central theme – and the starting point – is, of course, the art itself and its undeniable capacity to touch us emotionally and intellectually. Is it also capable of mobilizing separate individuals and entire societies to undertake action in this moment that is exceptionally important, even critical, for humanity?

The exhibition will present works that captivate the senses and the imagination, executed in diverse artistic media – photography, video, film, installations, sculptures. Works already presented in international forums like the biennials in Venice, Liverpool, and Moscow will be shown along with extensive new productions created especially for the Week of Contemporary Art.

Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019 presents the ideal framework for the exhibition, which is a part of the program of the ECC. The city and its artistic scene are connected with a global cultural network. And the Week of Contemporary Art “celebrates” art, which crosses all barriers and speaks in a universal language.

Special presentation:
KUSAMA: INFINITY, 2018, doc. film, directed by Heather Lenz
September 3, 7:00 p.m., Lucky Cinema

Exhibitions hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 12:30 АM – 6:30 PM





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Annual edition of the Week of Contemporary Art:

Art Positive:

Communication Front- new media art and theory

Critique of Pure Image – Between Fake and Quotation

 

Guest Exhibitions:

 

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