The Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia presents:
A Map of the World as Seen by Him
Artist: Vlad Nancă
Curator: Stefka Tsaneva
April 26 - May 31, 2022
Opening: April 26, Tuesday, 6-8 p.m.
ICA-Sofia Gallery / 134, Vasil Levski Blvd. (entrance from Ekzarh Yosif St.)
'A Map of the World as Seen by Him' is a reflection on the question of who owns the future and the fantasy of it. Traditionally, men have held the reins of the future and progress - whether it be in politics, the environment, science or even science fiction. But at a time when more than ever the future looks uncertain and bleak, invariably the imagination begins to seek refuge in utopian notions of possible new beginnings.
Nanca began this thought experiment back in 2015 with the discovery of Kepler-452b, an exoplanet, which scientists call Earth 2.0 because of its suitable for humans living conditions. Then there is the question of what would happen if humans one day colonized it. Would we carry our existence along with all the mistakes or will we start fresh? Reflecting on a possible new beginning, Vlad Nanka imagines a fantastic future, this time led by women.
Nanca looks back to the 20th century and the hectic time of revolutions – social, political, scientific and architectural. In the exhibition, he draws inspiration from modernist architecture, Sofia’s urban environment under socialism and Soviet astronautics, and the obsession with scientific progress that left its mark in the form of murals and mosaics across Eastern Europe. He seeks women, whether metaphorical or real historical figures, to become images of a new possible future.
While preparing for the exhibition, Nanca rediscovered two artists who have remained on the periphery of the history of art and architecture in Bulgaria and Romania. One is the Bulgarian sculptor Velichka Believa and the other is the Romanian architect Henrieta Dalavrancea-Gibory, one of the leading figures of Romanian Modernism, who designed many buildings in Balchik in the 1930s and made a major contribution to the modern appearance of the town. Believa’s sculpture “The Basketball Player” in front of the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia and silhouettes from Delavrancea’s architectural drawings became some of Vlad Nanca’s main starting points for the construction of his futuristic narrative.
Although Nanca’s entire exhibition is built on the notion of the future, it is above all a critical (and perhaps pessimistic) reading of both the present and history. Borrowing imagery from Sofia’s urban environment and Bulgarian contemporary art, Nanca’s exhibition is also a particular challenge to the Bulgarian context in terms of the role of women.
'A Map of the World as Seen by Him'
is the second exhibition in the year-long program Superpositions 2 / Entanglement, 2022
of the Institute of Contemporary Art-Sofia. The program includes six exhibitions, each one a collaboration between an artist and a curator, along with a cycle of educational events and discussions. All these examine the entanglement of contemporary art with politics, science and technology, popular culture, gender and social movements, ecology and migration. The program is supported by the National Fund “Culture” / The Annual Program for Support of Professional Organizations in the Field of Arts
The visual identity of the program is created by Denislav Golemanov. As if in a scientific experiment, he is stimulating the symbiosis between the artist and the curator on the level of graphics even before the actual physical event. Visual elements supplied by the artist and curator are transformed and entangled via artificial intelligence. The dynamic digital vision is evolving along the collaboration between the exhibiting authors. Its evolutionary path terminates with the opening of the exhibition.
(b. 1979, Bucharest) graduated from the Department of Photography and Moving Image at the National University of Arts, Bucharest. His early practice designated a visionary artistic perspective, as much as triggered the coagulation of the young artist scene in Bucharest. Some of his early works employ political and cultural symbols, evoked nostalgia and investigate the metaphorical tension between public and domestic spaces, all against the backdrop of Romania and Eastern Europe’s recent history and aggressive capitalism in the early 2000s. The cityscape of Bucharest was the backdrop for his poetical and subtly political artistic gestures. The shift from the embodied movement of his early actions in the city to embedded movement in the objects the artist makes and interferes with is visible in his recent practice. Through constant idiosyncratic humor and playful semiotics of imagery, Nancă’s recent practice unveils a resurgence of the notion of space (from architecture and public space to outer space) thus forging constellations of subjectivities, sculptures and installations. “The question of how the grand design and architectural narratives of the 20th century reverberate in ordinary objects, in vernacular variations for the ideologies, forms and functions of modernism, is a crucial theme in Nancă’s practice”, alongside “the recent history of architecture and its versions of postmodernism in Western and Eastern Europe”. In his 2015 exhibition “From the white square to the white cube” the artist highlighted an imaginary intersection of the socialist utopia as seen in the works of radical Italian architects Superstudio and the reality of his family’s home kitchen in socialist Romania of the 1970s. A similar retrospective look applied in a hypothetical context was emphasized in “Souvenirs from Earth” (2015), an exhibition that had as a starting point the question “What would you take with yourself on a translocation to a 2.0 planet?” He speculated on the possibility of colonizing Kepler-452b (an exoplanet with similar atmospheric conditions to those on Earth) and questioned the cultural heritage one might bring to a fictitious relocation outside our galaxy. His solo show “In the Natural Landscape the Human is an Intruder” took place at Sabot Gallery in 2018. It was followed by “The City and the City” at KVOST, Berlin and “Visavis” at Suprainfinit Gallery, Bucharest in the autumn of 2019.
Stefka Tsaneva is working in curating, criticism and educational activities in contemporary art. She took Scandinavian studies and Media sciences at the Humboldt University in Berlin, as well as comparative Art History at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia. She has worked as cultural manager for various organizations such as Goethe-Institut Bulgarien in Sofia; Sariev Contemporary, Open Arts Foundation and Plovdiv-European Capital of Culture’2019. Over the years, she has developed various art mediation and dialogue instigation projects in contemporary art such as: “Looking with Understanding” (since 2021), “Art Start: young artists to follow” (together with Vessela Nozharova, since 2017), Ö shared artists’ studio (2018), talks with artists, etc. She collaborated with Art-Deeds and Actions Foundation on projects like “Sofia Art Projects” (since 2021), the “CLICK International Curatorial Residency” (2018-2019), Blister Magazine, etc. She has worked as a broadcaster for Radio Station Sofia and Radio Station Plovdiv, as well as published on art in a variety of Bulgarian media. Stefka Tsaneva is based in Berlin.