catalogue About “The Edge” by Katrin Sarieva 2012

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From the catalogue "The Edge ideal". Sariev Gallery, 2012 Article by Katrin Sarieva

Founded at the end of 1989, the “Edge” group is a phenomenon in Plovdiv’s artistic life and an emblem of contemporary Bulgarian art from the 90’s, called “non-conventional.” The group was founded by Plovdiv artists, some of whom with an established creative biography so far and a remarkable participation in the “non-conventional” art activity of the second half of the 80’s. […] The art critic Dimitar Grozdanov plays an important role in the creative development of the group, and the gallery owner Stefan Akrabov—in their realization. When “The Edge” was created, Plovdiv was known as a “city of artists,” mythologically and ritually inhabited by Dimitar Kirov, Georgi Bozhilov—the Elephant, Encho Pironkov. The famous “Plovdiv group” in the 60’s blew up the socialist aesthetics, going beyond the imposed conjuncture, but within the canvas and as an artistic individual gesture, not as a collective revolt against the situated ideology. Herein lies the difference between the two Plovdiv phenomena. “The Edge” is born during the crucial 1989 with its political and creative euphoria, with the intoxication of the “happening” and the performance, with the rejection of the socialist guild both as an expressed language and as a norm. The carnival, the playfulness, the poster-like elements carry the stylistic language of freedom during the first rallies with their inherent collective sharing. This makes the appearance of the “Edge” group in the Plovdiv context different from the heroic-revivalist perception of the artist with their unique aura.

The group with its actions takes away the heroic, ironizing the seriousness and mythologizing themselves.

In their statements, the artists state that “The Edge” has no claim to be avant-garde, that the group is “anti-avant-garde and its existence is determined by the awareness that the future is love... It wants to turn its members into millionaires […] for the benefit of the whole world, and to achieve unity of artists and spectators through shared celebrations.” The first exhibition “Symbols and Signs” with guest participant Pravdolyub Ivanov (March 1990, Plovdiv) is accompanied with irony and anti-conformism, somewhere between the scandal and the romantic-musketeering, but also in an engaged way. So are the socially oriented actions “Black Happening” (Plovdiv, 1990), “Root High in the Sky” (Plovdiv, 1990), “Big Light” (Plovdiv, 1991), “The Body of Water” (Pazardzhik, 1992), “The Public Breakfast” Balchik, 1992). With their acts, the group goes beyond the hermetic space of the gallery. It intervenes into social space with its multiple meanings and with actionist practices, radically displacing established notions of the audience and its reactions. […] The irony transformed into sarcasm, both in terms of the established means of expression and the fixed notions of “beauty” of the mass spectator, and in terms of the creative act itself, are the starting point of the “Edge” since their inception. By activating the artifact in a social environment, [by creating] works that actively enter the political field with their critical force, [by staging] provocations in the face of the norms of passive reception that imply a static sensitivity of the audience—all these define the group as one of the few phenomena in Bulgarian art that really manages to connect conceptual art practices with social criticism. The exhibitions of “The Edge” experiment with materials and concepts, turning the gallery space into an accomplice and an artifact. Gradually, especially after 1992, the transition from a collective pathos to self-observation and withdrawal into oneself become more pronounced. This is typical of society from the 90’s, as reflected in artistic activity, in the breakup of groups, and the artists’ orientation toward individual work. This is also the case with “The Edge”.


Grozdanov, Dimitar. “Grupa Rab na tri godini.” Izkustvo 1, 1993, 11-13.
Valiavicharska, Zhivka. "The Edge Group and the Non-conventional Art Forms in Bulgaria, 1984-1994." M.A. Thesis, Department of Art History, National Academy of Arts, Sofia, 1999.

Translated from Bulgarian by Kalina Peycheva