Excerpts from an exhibition by Aleksandar Sekulov
The Edge Group gave its newly established Award for a lifetime creative practice to the April
generation in the face of one of them being present – by coincidence, not by the irony of
fate – Yoan Leviev. With which the main motto of the group, shared in a private conversation
with Kolyo Karamfilov: “The current plan – a measure of creative activity!” – was
supplemented by another: “September may become May, but March will never be April!”
The core of the exhibition – both semantically and spatially – is the figural composition by
Dimitar Mitovski and Kolyo Karamfilov, called Punk. The artists created their first
collective work, the Oasis composition, last summer from scrap iron. I will not be asking
the question why no one prevented this bizarre and creative work from being dismembered and
scattered. Those who could have done something about it actually do not care about such
The title Punk shows the clear marks of the modern aggression of this movement, driven and
created by despair and nihilism. However, the sickles and hammers in the work, which
replaced the usual hairdo, are signs and symbols of a much older and terrible aggression,
radiated in unbelievable quantities even [when it comes] only from the elements of the
flag-party communist symbolism. The third element – the five-pointed star —is the mass
object of satirical destruction enacted by most of the artists in the exhibition. In Punk,
the irony comes through a discreet and seemingly inconspicuous reference to the Statue of
Liberty, but unlike the original, the star’s rays had simply split the iron head, protruding
ridiculously outward. In The Stomach of a Person Forced to Become a Communist, the cold
horror stems from the fact that the pile of stars is sitting in the stomach intact,
monolithic, and seemingly impossible to digest. Dimitar Kelbechev tackles the theme of
aggression, hidden (now) and obvious (before), in the most explicit and almost poster-like
way, emanating from the institutionalized signs and symbols of the known ideology: a press
on whose handle a small golden star has landed.
For two days in a row, someone was removing the star.
Apart from the aggression radiated by the mentioned symbols and signs, their substitutive
role and their ability to absorb reality is also subjected to ironic discrediting. In a
society where the individual is a function of ideology, the symbol and the sign are not
references to reality. They are the only reality. The entire reality. The paradox of this
subsumption and replacement is most drastic in Rumen Zhekov (in Untitled, where the unifying
element of the dead flies, the cockroach carcasses, the cut hair, the half-burnt candle and
a few small metal stars served in five plates should be the state of death, an end, a
non-life), in Albena Mihaylova and Veneta Marinova (Table without Words), and in the already
mentioned painting by Dimitar Mitovski. The ailing ideology has become the daily bread. In
biblical times, Christ fed his people with bread and fish not to win them over in their
faith, but because they were hungry. The ersatz is always cruel.
Deprived of its socially sanctioning role, the sign of hyper-reality becomes an ordinary
part of reality. The ritual of eating the huge and scary red star cake at the end of the
opening aimed to reach a collective and final purification and liberation of those present
from a past of fear and from the fear of the past.
A well-known editor from Radio Plovdiv shrewdly asked the question: “What would the
exhibition have been without the opening?” Without the parodic recital of the pioneers,
without the action of scattering multiple stone balls called The Balls of History Are
Rolling, without the Roma kids with faces covered in cake, who naturally joined the opening…
I think, even if it had been just that opening – that gesture of slicing (don’t forget the
cake sliced with a sickle!) the Plovdiv socio-cultural space, which made the first timid
attempts to bring different segments of the cultural intelligentsia closer to each other and
out of their own fortresses, it would have been enough.
Some of the works in the exhibition – In Memory of the Victims of Belene by Dimitar
Kelbechev and Punk by Dimitar Mitovski and Kolyo Karamfilov – should not disappear with its
They contain all of our disgusted memory.
Anyone who has seen the exhibition of the Edge Group already knows with what else—besides
cigarette buds – the Whale is yet to pollute the ocean. From now on.
Paradoxes of the “Edge”by Albena Hranova
The exhibition of the Edge Group began with a spectacle and a happening, with the bustle of
cultural life, and with artistic challenges; it went through the classic display of
artefacts in the Gladston Gallery, which the audience would circumvent while pausing to
focus – and so far would continue to move between the opinions and assessments of different
people, and between the distinctions and approximations within itself.
One of the most important features of the group and its exhibition proved to be the
movement, but its apparent chaos became focused around a common desire to expose the
political signs and symbols of the day. In my opinion, this aspiration achieved two main
results: First, it separated these signs from a reality which had up to that moment been
completely pervaded by and imbued with them. Further, this separation turned out to be a
condition for the literalization of the sign, by which it became suspicious precisely as a
sign—but this way it affirmed the sign’s transience and the freedom of art to distance
itself from it.
In other words, the exhibition of the “Edge” contains a serious paradox. It demonstrated how
to make art out of these signs and symbols which had until now subsumed and crudely
socialized art itself and the life embodied in it, seeking to make art easily translatable
into politically manipulative languages, and to oppose its ambiguity and universality. This
paradox is also reflected in the range of the artworks themselves – from the satirical and
the useful, through poster-like communication and grotesque, to the metaphor; from the light
ridicule and the joke, through purification and premonition, to memory and grief. This is
why it is not easy to evaluate the exhibition with only one measure of value, whatever it
The true illustration of this paradox is, for example, Dimitar Kelbechev’s Triumvirate, a
wonderful drawing, I think, which suggests possibilities for interpretation that are
redirected and limited by the decor contained in it and around it – quite a realistic copy
of a kitschy agitprop club corner. That is, the drawing deliberately suppresses its own
ambiguity in order to build for itself a situation in which art cannot and should not exist.
On the other hand, the work shows the forces that bring art, and life and also themselves
into a similar context – only so would these very forces achieve their imposed
representativeness. The multifaceted and precise drawing “pretends” to be a literal
portrait, changes its “genre” and therefore sacrifices some of its meanings in order to
bring about the rebuke from within.
The colors are also related to the typical orientation of the exhibition. The dominant black
color contains red, but no longer as its classic contrast but as its clear synonym – and
gray appears as a result of their communion…
The ”Edge” also demonstrates a sense of boundaries on several levels – from the name of the
group itself, through the title “Symbols and Signs”, to the general desire to imply that
before crossing it, the line of compromised political signs and symbols must first be
acknowledged and contoured.
Come, thousands of young people!
by Lyudmil Stanev
And they came. They knocked, but no one was there. They left a note:
If someone is looking for us, we are in Belene. [Signed:] Thousands of young people
The spectators expressed their satisfaction, after which they left united toward the bright
The following question was answered: “What is ground and does it have grounds in our
During the entire time while the exhibition was being opened, one could hear the footsteps
of communism arriving in the gallery.
If it asks about us, you can say we are all gone.
All this was, is, and will be the exhibition of the Edge Group
by Inna Peleva
It sounds good and it means so mаny things.
For the professionally deformed philologist, even just the fact that the cutting resonant is
chosen as an absolute beginning, that it is placed in a significant and strong first
position, gives rise to many senses.
Bulgarian literature has created a tradition of exploitation of and manipulation through the
sound energy of the emotionally aggressive and expressively powerful “r”. Through the “r”
the Bulgarian horror of a doom still hits our ears and the ugly crowing of ravens still
Twenty-nine “r’s” in a column draw the downward fall “with a big bang – straight into
failure” and remind us that “Hell is for us only”.
The mass song also masters the skills of sound symbolism and
“R” is briskness
“R” is bellicosity
“R” is optimism
“R” is a march
Let’s not forget that the “r” is also “r-r-r-r-a-b [edge]”.
“Edge” in Bulgarian is phonetically close to “rub”—a word rich and generous in meaning,
which alone, either in phraseology or in idiom, or slightly modified grammatically, means
almost everything: to move something on the surface with pressure, to communicate, to
support, to replicate, that we are getting along well, that we are doing great, to erase, to
grind to a dust, to inflict upon, to thrust upon, to wipe out, to excise, to manage somehow,
to polish, to refresh, to revitalize, uneven terrain, obstacle, challenge, a sore spot, a
stone for grinding, a rubber, caoutchouc, a polisher, a massаger, a bath attendant,
curiosity, garbage, rubbish, leftovers, trifles, pieces, rags, nonsense, ridiculousness,
pointlessness, to kill.
When Kipling’s camel starts speaking Bulgarian with the help of Valeri Petrov, she says
“hrup”, i.e. it transcribes Bulgarian “rab” with a sigh. The comfortable chaos of
associations which arises from the three sounds shelters the cheeky-cute snout of the lazy
camel from the children’s tale, and mentions the loud joy of the demonstratively rude eating
of green fruit, and much more.
The edge is the seam of a sock, of a pair of pants… neatness, ironed looks, non-jeans.
The edge is a border, a seam, a limit, a blade, disobedience, inconvenience, it is obvious
where the joint is, a fool, extremism, or—or a mandatory choice, an effort to survive, a
scar, healing (improperly), lack of smoothness (finally), a dummy, the Rubicon, and then its
literal morphemic calque into rub-i-kon [edge-and-horse] (i.e. spur the horse), edge is not
a slave, r-r-a-b is not br-r-r-r, agreement and contact between two surfaces, a ridge, build
the rooftop higher, craftsmen!
Let the Edge be an edge.