Shock Therapy in the Art of the Youth
“Edge”—this is not the edge of the border, the corner, the junction. “Edge”—this is the edge
of the street, the jargon, the informals. (A visitor of the exhibition “Symbols and Signs”—
“I bet these are big edges!”)
Yes. All newspapers announced the new Plovdiv presence in the dynamism of the time. The
“March generation” confronted the “April generation” and won the sympathy of the changing
world. Time will appreciate the power, the meaning, and the significance of the “Edge”
phenomenon. I am sad—maybe because youth is going away, maybe because a world fell down that
was mine, marked by signs and symbols that were mine. And I quietly enjoy the enthusiasm of
the young, the aesthetic attitude towards the collapse, the power of extremism towards the
dogma, the informal Jesuit thought that aligns with wisdom.
Combining signs and symbols is not something new. But seen from the angle of the
combination, from the edge of the viewpoint, sometimes cruel but balanced with a dose of
justice, one can measure the ability to change the world and oneself. In the exhibition,
black humor has become a play of words, and somewhere it presents truths which have been
suffered through. It is filled with tables [masses], a table [masses] of words, a table
[masses] without words,1 many hammers and many sickles, many volumes of Capital and many
stars—pentagrams—stars on a plate, stars from corks, stars in the hair, tears in the
Every age has created its own symbols and signs. Flags, coats of arms, heraldry—are signs of
dignity, self-determination, self-confidence. The sickle and the hammer appeared as signs in
the art of the most progressive creative circles which gave birth to the avantgarde in the
bosom of the monarchy and in the fire of revolutionary Russia. The exaltation on the squares
of the new Soviet society in the years 1917-20 was no lesser in strength than it is today.
The paradox is in the identification of the signs and symbols with the rises and downfalls
in society. But the societies of the KluKluxKlan, the hippies, and all modern democracies
also gave birth to symbols and signs.
Signs and symbols are the spiritual dimensions of art itself. Modernism and the avantgarde
of the new Bulgarian art have different paths. In any case, they will be associated with the
late 1980’s and early 90’s, with spiritual metamorphoses and all sorts of shock therapies. I
experienced similar stress with the huge pinkish-red cake of the outraged “edges”, when the
five-pointed star was torn apart with a hammer and a sickle by the crowd of worshipers—like
the lord’s body, like holy communion—and I do not know why, a bloody star appeared in the
shadow of my thoughts, carved on a human’s back, stamped on a human’s breasts in a very
inhuman way… Because, whether we like it or not—the spectacle and the staginess during the
times when all “taboos” fall, when symbols and signs are demythologized—new “taboos” and new
symbols and signs appear in their place.
P.S. There is an idea to create a museum of modern art in Plovdiv. Dear readers, please
suggest a place, sponsors, adventurers, unofficials, realists, and clear-sighted and
“possible” individuals and groups to realize this idea.
Translated from Bulgarian by Kalina Peycheva