In Press The edge group at the age of three by Dimitar Grozdanov 1993

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Journal Izkustvo, No 1 (1993) Article by Dimitar Grozdanov

On March 17, 1990, the exhibition “Symbols and Signs” of the newly founded Edge Group opened in Plovdiv. The participants in the exhibition stated that their first exhibition was definitely political, but the political will not define their appearance in the future. The goals of the Edge Group are to stimulate as well as to receive ideas, seeking the unity of spectators and artists through the implementation of common celebrations. This is why the opening of the “Symbols and Signs” exhibition took place as a spectacle with many surprises (to some people perhaps unpleasant ones), and the purpose of the exhibition was any identification to be accompanied by irony.

The artists of the young generation in Plovdiv

The Edge Group is united by the delicate interrelationships among the artists, relationships that could be strengthened but also could end up broken. By the way, some of the internal relations that characterized the beginning of the group have changed radically. The first exhibition opened with a series of performances and happenings, and the audience was treated with a cake in the form of a five-pointed star, which was sliced with a set of hammers and sickles. Many of those who were present took part in the performance spontaneously or with guidance, and the first annual “Edge” award was given to the April generation of artists, represented by the figure of Yoan Leviev. Until its closing, the exhibition was accompanied by a series of artistic happenings to which everyone was invited. Who are the Edge Group? These are the artists of the young generation in Plovdiv, and the founders are Albena Mihaylova, Veneta Marinova, Dimitar Kelbechev, Dimitar Mitovski, Emil Mirazchiev, Ivaylo Grigorov, Igor Budnikov, Kolyo Karamfilov, Monika Romenska, Nadya Genova, Paul Albert and Rumen Zhekov. Among other groups, “Edge” in its own way became involved in artistic life. Here are excerpts from a recorded conversation with the group, which began with the artists’ questions to the critics, but in fact became something like their proto-program.

The Idea

The main thing that expresses the idea of ​​the group is their separation from centralized artistic life. The Edge” Group is up for the artistic ideal and it will look for it without formulating it in advance. It will not talk about material realization itself, because the artists today are oppressed by many social factors, they exist miserably, their situation is terrible, but the ideal exists and one must live for it. The problem of realization, in the sense of being accepted by the status quo, is not an ambition of the Edge Group. The criteria of the group are clarified in a discussion and in search of a unifying principle. The unification is carried out by the purposes of the future activities of the group, which means that the group’s ideas are in a dynamic state. The group itself is a closed society, as founders, but the movement is open and accepts companions. The following principle is valid – “We are a closed group. Everyone is welcome! We have no leaders. Our leader is the celebration.” The group is a stimulator of ideas, and tends to stay in the background for their specific implementations. “Do we have a sense of leadership? No. We are a group.”

The Realization

The group is realized only as united by a program. It is a society that is organized by the idea of ​​future events and its verification is done through these events. The main goal of the realization is the pleasure during this very realization. Dissatisfaction, or accidental inclusion in the ideas of the group, is considered a betrayal of the ultimate goal—the preservation of the group itself. “The pleasure of organizing exhibitions and actions is entirely our right.” The Edge Group wants to turn its members into millionaires. It wants to treat the whole world and to treat everyone constantly.

The “Symbols and Signs” Exhibition

The purpose of the exhibition is to change the habitual look of the place where it is organized (even if the place itself is state-owned). The Staging of the exhibition is the criterion applied to the participants. No other criteria exist. This is our first, and perhaps our last, political exhibition. This exhibition takes place at a time when it is possible, and all the mistakes made in it and through it are attributable to the artists participating in it. The exhibition is just one appearance of the group in material form, and the selection of works is natural and is determined prior to the event, not afterwards. The group is interested in the future of its exhibitions, which is away from the amorphous events currently on view. The exhibition is geared only towards those who are interested in it and therefore the conclusion is that “Symbols and Signs” does not fully satisfy the group or its supporters. The purpose of any future exhibitions does not differ from the main goal: to make every art event a celebration. Derived from the context of “Symbols and Signs”, some of the artefacts are suitable for other exhibitions, but their main meaning is generated precisely in the context of “Symbols and Signs”.

The future

The Edge Group is not looking for its leaders, even if they appear. Among the members of the group, no one relies on the illusion of authoritarianism—[the group] was founded to survive, not to disintegrate. The Edge Group will seek its place in Bulgarian art in an absolute sense—it will deny its own weaknesses and failures. The Edge Group will strive for unusual exhibitions and therefore each of its exhibitions should be considered as the last one, as that is also possible. The Edge Group – these are the “edges” themselves, but these are also all those who are with them, while not necessarily being one of them. The Edge Group has no claim to be avantgarde. It is even anti-avantgarde and its existence is determined by the consciousness that love is in the future.

The second exhibition, for which other groups and authors were invited, was called “Large Photography”. As far as the Edge Group is concerned, this exhibition has definitely shown a certain withdrawal from the collective image. In fact, it was an exhibition of individual artists who grouped their works in one space. What connected them was the materials and the technical means. In fact, I have long been convinced that precisely these elements are the common grounds of the members in the group, and making art based on collective ideas, which was a dream of several generations of artists, will probably remain as a task for the future generations. Or maybe for other groups. If we look at the facts without prejudice, the exhibition “Large Photography” is still one of the finest phenomena in recent times, and probably the most incredible professional exhibition of artists who are using unusual for their practice mediums. The exhibition also showed the characteristic centrifugal forces of some of our contemporary artists, forces which separated them not only from the general trends, but also from their own views, which have been established as a result of these trends. Perhaps the confession of guilt in artists lies precisely in enabling the new ideas to take root without hindering them in their embryonic phase. The artistic facts in this exhibition, however, spoke not so much of genesis as of a long-prepared movement. Changing the means of expression and literally replacing the brush or graphic press with photographic paper, film, developer, etc. speaks about the search for a new aesthetics. The “Large Photography” exhibition featured also the pictorial element, the biography, the naturalistic, the imaginary, and the dynamics of a peculiar new impressionism.

The 1992 exhibition of the Edge Group was called “The Ideal”. It began with an abstract space brought to sterility by white canvases, one for each artist. On the tenth day, the canvases were finished as paintings—the ideal of each of the artists. However, the beginning of the painting of the ideal was accompanied by a scandal. Definitions such as “scandal”, “parody”, “self-promotion”, “spectacle”, etc. accompanied the “The Ideal” exhibition, but in fact this was only the reaction of the audience. The main goal of the Edge Group was a deep and long-lasting artistic provocation. Its members have consolidated around this idea. “The Ideal” exhibition was the reason for the group to be invited to the festival “Process – Space”. Its illusions, irony and sense of reality expressed the essence of all of us. The Edge Group called their action at the festival “The Big Guzzling”. They arranged a large table on the sea shore and covered it with a huge amount of selected wines, whiskeys and dishes – everything that was inaccessible to the Bulgarians these days. The artists were separated by a rope and swallowed everything by themselves. The sharing was frugal and reluctant. Thus, the group, which two years earlier declared that “it wants to treat the whole world and to treat everyone constantly”, self-centeredly protected itself from its initial illusions. Maybe they gave us a dose of realism for free, to do with it as we see fit. I am sure, however, that this was not their last transformation.

“The beginning was pretentious. Just as God created the world in six days, so the ten young artists decided to bring into being their concept of ​​the ideal on ten empty white canvases. But when, on the day after the opening, they entered the exhibition hall armed with brushes and paints, it turned out that a burglary had taken place. The surprise was complete, especially for the investigators: instead of picking up the expensive decks or searching through the cash register, the thieves limited themselves to stealing the ten white canvases. From then on, the crime plot developed in the direction of surrealism (probably that exists in the crime genre as well). The artists received a telegram that they would find the stolen objects in the storage room of the Central Railroad Station, and they invited the raiders to a dialogue: the thieves were welcome to paint their own concept of ​​the ideal. But the game did not happen. Apparently, the act had had other motives which were inexplicable to the Edge Group. So the “edges” stood for five days (not insignificant time considering that the rent of the exhibition space was running) in front of their own edge: “To be or not to be?” “What was actually the ideal?” “And where to now...”

Excerpt from the Plovdiv press