In Press The Edge, the Symbols and the Signs by Svetla Moskova 1990

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Iskra newspaper, 1990, Num. 4 Article by Svetla Moskova

At sunset, the shadows lengthen. From them we cannot understand the true size of the objects. But if something is going down at all, what is it? Aren’t we extending the shadow of the avantgarde bonsai to make it look bigger?
Stefan Shishkov for the Sofia exhibition "10x10x10"

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 eyes.

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