Bulgaria & NY: Bulgarian & American Women Artists Collaborate

This exhibition is the result of the combined efforts of seven pairs of cutting edge Bulgarian and American women artists.

Event Venue:

Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts

Event Date:

November 2, 2000 to November 30, 2000

On view from: November 2 - November 30, 2000

This project is the first in a series of our annual program entiteled Eastern European Women Artists Collaborate. It embodies RACC's mission to foster an international crreative spirit through cross-cultural and interdisciplinary endeavors.

This exhibition is the result of the combined efforts of seven pairs of cutting edge Bulgarian and American women artists. This exciting and collaborative project incorporates the art and life experience of artists from two worlds: post-Soviet Eastern Europe, with its difficult and unstable transition to democracy, and the United States. For the first time, Bulgarian women artists living in a predominately patriarchal society deeply influenced by three centuries of Ottoman rule meet American women artists representing post-feminist society.

In coming together, the participants personalities, psychological and cultural singularity, communication skills and individual circumstances have come to light, which, in turn, they have aspired to express in their art.

Project Proposal:
The proposed international New York based project will consist of exhibition, performances, workshops and conference based on a collaboration between Bulgarian and American women artists.

Women carry all the weight of daily reality and the burden of the most conservative habits of their societies. Their role is a litmus test. We are inviting a group of cutting edge Bulgarian women artists from the rural and remote region in South-Eastern Europe. Bulgaria belongs to the former Soviet coalition where progressive changes are not easily going and are linked to various unstable processes. Its population is dominantly Slavic and carries in its heritage deep traces of the three century Ottoman Empire presence. It made an essential impact on the women's position in the society and their self estimate. Today Bulgaria is a predominantly male country with undefined possibilities for women.

Seven Bulgarian women artists belong to the generation that came to the art scene in the early 90's. They graduated from art schools, mostly National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, and work in different media. Their position as artists and women is strongly articulated in their works through philosophical approach, aesthetic representation and feminine issues in modern world. They work in the progressive media specifically for this region such as installation, video and photo assemblage.

Each of them has her own history in efforts to establish herself as an artist . They actively participate in the national and international exhibits, conceptual projects and performances trying to develop their art approaches up to date. The group of seven was organized to join the efforts in supporting their personal goals and women artists' position. As a result of their activities are series of Annual group exhibitions in the prestigious halls in Sofia and in the country. The group that is well established now in Bulgaria and frequently was shown in Europe, has no much opportunities to introduce their art beyond their country and in the US.

Trying to establish themselves as the group of artists they are not concentrating on the feminist issues specifically, but they share a liberal feminist position of the Western women.

The important part of our project is to give Eastern European women artists a chance to learn and to experience American art, public, and reality. What makes this program distinct from others is that this is a life artistic collaboration, and the artists are coming to the US for the first time from the country which is underrepresented on the world cultural scene. It wi ll benefit the both sides: Bulgarian and American women artists, giving them new experience, feelings and knowledge. Together they will obtain a possibility to be introduced and to develop their establishment in American art and public scenes. It would be unique contribution of regional artistic heritage and injection of different vision. American public would be also benefited through exhibitions, workshops and conference, interactive lectures and educational programs. It would also help update the American image among the former Soviet satellites.

The participating Bulgarian women artists - Tania Abajieva, Nadia Genova, Alla Georgieva, Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova, Elena Panayotova, Adelina Popnedeleva, Monica Romenska, will collaborate in New York with American women artists - Michele Beck, Irina Danilova, Akiko Ichikawa, Brigitta Lund, Thelma Mathias, Sue Muskat, and Suzy Surek.

Another goal of this project is to build the international women artists network that will support the development of women's art in their countries and throughout the globe, as well as to further expose the artists and their cultural heritage. Also, the New York based project will unite American artists of different origin with their Eastern European counterparts that will emphasize the role of New York art scene both as a melting pot and a capital of contemporary art.

The project will be hosted at the studios and gallery space of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts at 323 West 39th Street, at the very center of New York -Times Square district, in the Fall 2000. The Bulgarian - American artists' collaboration will start on October 15 and will result in the exhibition - November, 2 through November 30, 2000. The Exhibition will be open four weeks, 6 days a week from 11 AM through 5 PM. It will be free of charge.

In conjuction with the exhibition we are preparing the conference, workshops, public discussions and educational tours. After the conclusion of the project in the United States it will travel to Bulgaria.

The Exhibition opening and special events will be attended by the Consul General of Bulgaria and the Consul General of the Russian Federation, representatives of New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, city officials.