Edge Group / Projects Symbols and Signs exhibition 1990

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Text by Albena Mihaylova – Bendji Symbols and Signs exhibition

Notes and documents from 1989 and early 1990 show that the Edge Group was not created as an aesthetic platform but as a political position of a group of young artists from Plovdiv who wanted to distinguish themselves from the official UPA (Union of Plovdiv Artists), and to transform society.
The process of our gathering as a group lasted for over a year, during which many important events took place in the political landscape in our country:
– On December 19, 1989, we submitted a proposal to the UPA for a platform-movement for the rights of young artists and we signed an open letter to the UBA (Union of the Bulgarian Artists) for the democratization of the artistic process in our country;
– on January 7, 1990, we formed and signed a declaration of refusal to participate in the centralized and ideologized pseudo-cultural system.
Naming the group was a process that started with many “questions”. In the diaries I kept, it is recorded:
PI–TAM (‘to question’); WHAT; STO; CHTO; SHTO; WHY; ...........

Choosing a name

At that moment we were clearly aware of the significance of choosing a name – it had to be an expression of the primal, the unadulterated, the gnarly – both in our overall behavior and in the art which we wanted to create. The name of the group had to match our idea. "Edge" was a provocative password. It couldn't be more fitting!
The topics and questions that excited us built our manifesto:
– We gather because we think alike and we give each other the mutual trust in creativity.
– We want to merge our path through creativity, we want to react as citizens.
– To create a tense contemplative and mental space.
– To experiment in art...
– How to do it? – according to the availabilities of our own maximum, with inner valor.
The creation of Edge coincided with the preparation of our first exhibition. Initially, we wanted to develop the theme of shame and guilt, to cover it with politically engaged signs and to awaken the social thinking in the philistine city.

We talked and considered ideas that would conceptually build the exhibition:
“Who is guilty before whom? Political art is the art of the day; it goes away the moment the problem is solved, or does it remain unsolved? What do we do with self-censorship, with democracy? The fall of the regime on November 10, 1989 should find its reflection in our works in the exhibition.”
From the Edge diary

The title of our first exhibition “Symbols and Signs” carried documentary value, it fully reflected our process and claimed neutrality in opposition of our works. And the genie from the bottle was unleashed. Feeling like Edges, we fantasized, we dreamed, our ideas flowed from yesterday's lie to tomorrow’s unknown. At the time we could not have imagined the coming of the post-social-folk-sur-realism that flooded us in the 1990s. From my diary on the exhibition: 'Symbols and signs' will be a columbarium, a panopticon of favorite things or of reflections of hateful ideological limitations; albums with photos from pioneer camps and military education that will hardly move you; medals and flags, having lost their dignity, will be crucified on display with the cruelty of playing children. There will be a cake 1m in diameter, with a five-pointed star that will be eaten with a sickle and a hammer and it will leave blood-red marks on the lips. The cult will be culinary. The opening of the exhibition will be a big celebration with the lambada dance, a birthday party. A choir of young pioneers will be singing, a trumpeter will be blowing, champagne will be poured and star confetti will be showering above us". We celebrated euphorically with dozens, maybe hundreds of friends. The guests could not believe their eyes. What was the celebration of the Edge? Our joy of the new age, or perhaps the realization of our first collective dream? Carnival, de-scaling and change of values, and a dizzying sense of freedom charged the atmosphere in the crowded hall. Ceramic balls bounced at the feet of those present and their sound resembled the ticking of a sped-up clock. For whom was time in a rush? For the Edge.


Albena Mihaylova

Emil Mirazchiev

Igor Budnikov

Ivaylo Grigorov

Dimitar Kelbechev

Karanfilov - Mitovski

Monika Romenska

Nadya Genova

Paul Albert

Rumen Zhekov

Veneta Marinova