|The Art Today
The Art Today Foundation was established in 1997 by a group of Plovdiv artists and intellectuals united by the common idea of setting up a center for contemporary art in the town, having an extraregional and national significance and performing an educational, information and cultural function.
The idea for such a "Center for Contemporary Art" sprung up about 10 years ago when a part of the Foundation's founders established the "Edge" group
(a nonformal group of artists working with nonconventional and vanguard forms - something almost unknown to the cultural situation in Bulgaria at the time). The group with its work and name is an original reaction against the established conventions and cultural norms modelled in accordance with the orders by the then totalitarian regime in Bulgaria.
The Edge Group has developed the idea of a new pictorial code and language, adequate to the international and European tendencies in the visual arts. The group seeks a new social status and function of the art and the artist - to serve as an indicator of the processes in society, and protest against censorship and the substitution of artistic values.
The group has gradually generated a public interest and reaction by its activities - a necessity for a place where to receive, keep and present such type of expressions not only by the Edge members but of other similar authors has been conceived by the public. A place (center) where to analyze, keep and disseminate accessible information for the contemporary art . So, the idea of establishing a Center for Contemporary Art has come into being. The Center is meant to be a modern structure whose activity shall be based on artistic principles free of bureaucratic restraints. It would be a dynamic model differing from the standard scheme of any museum or gallery. Being a promoter of festivals, symposia, theoretical conferences, as well as organizer of curated exhibitions, The Center would be a starting point for active communication. The aims of The Center for Contemporary Art are to work for a European and world integration, to be an informational basis for current cultural events, a multimedia laboratory establishing contacts with similar structures as means of cultural exchange.
With the changes brought about in a political aspect in recent years as well, the Edge members established the Art Today Foundation as a possibility for a more flexible work with the institutions, expanded their activities, started to organize lectures and
presentations before a wide audience, to invite various authors from both Bulgaria and abroad. For this purpose, they use an old Turkish bath building (a historical monument
of culture). A Week of Contemporary Art is organized annually, aiming at decentralizing the established model of concentrating all cultural events of importance in the capital. Its first edition took place from May 25, 1995, and turned into an original overview of unconventional and alternative forms of Bulgarian art with the participation of over 30 authors. The specific interior and space of the old building (the bath) has proved to be appropriate for accepting the activities of a future center for visual arts. Therefore, a second edition of the Week was held in 1996, "The Man - The Document", followed by the 1997 project "The Art - The Money", and the 1998 exhibition "Video Art" presenting the fourth edition of the Week.
The Art Today Foundation has succeeded in winning over, following intense negotiations and work, the Municipality of Plovdiv by convincing them of the necessity for the future center for contemporary art. The Municipality, the owner of the building, has agreed to give "Banya Starinna" ( the Ancient Baths) to the center in question and to take on the main work concerning the repairs, conservation and restoration of the building. The Art Today Foundation is the legalized institution to raise funds for carrying-out the activities of The Center for Contemporary Art.
ART TODAY Foundation was registered on the 2nd of May 1997 in the city of Plovdiv, domiciled at the Center of Contemporary Art in the premises of the Ancient Bath located in one of the busiest crossroads of Plovdiv. The Ancient Bath is recognized as a monument of culture and is a Turkish twofold bath of specific architecture built in the 15th century. Its volumetric and spatial structure provides excellent conditions for exposure of works of contemporary art.
The Art Today Foundation is intiator and chief organizer of the Communication Front Project. The coorganizers, institutions and participants invited to the Project are both from Eastern European countries and Western Europe. The aim of the project is to provide a possibility for a wide and open dialogue, exchange of ideas and presentations on the problems and processes in the contemporary European media art and culture and the incorporation of the Eastern European art and culture into these processes. One of the greatest assets of the European culture for us is the model of cultural and spiritual identification, where we are looking for both the general and the specific in the creative fields of media culture among the separate, independent regions.
We hope that the concrete working atmosphere, meetings and discussions will not only facilitate the processes of incorporation of Bulgarian media artists and centers into their European counterparts while looking for their international identity, but shall also provide a possibility for the development of innovatory thinking by a wider circle of people from various social strata in Bulgaria and their incorporation into the
information society and culture. We hope that the Communications Front project will generate a wide public interest to the new type of art and culture, and the new type of viewer drawn into the situation of happening and creation, of realization of the art as a public factor, function and necessity - the art as a catalyst of the democratic processes and its educational function, which is not so much committed to the end product and the aesthetic integrity. New technologies have always had a considerable effect on the development of society.
By the development and execution of the Communications Front project, we shall mark the establishment of the Center for Contemporary Art in Plovdiv in the building of an old Turkish Bath (a cultural monument). This will be the first project related to the electronic arts and information technologies, which we hope to become periodical and to lay the beginnings of a wide Communications Front among artists, critics, curators and audience united around the idea of cultural understanding and the recognition of an information society and culture as an alternative to the geographical, social and other boundaries.
Communication Front 1999
Time and meeting place of the event: from May 31 until June 20, 1999; Center of Contemporary Art, Ancient Baths, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Organizer: Art Today Foundation
"Communication Front" project is developed in three directions:
- theoretical part: a symposium and presentations of net projects, CD-ROM and video packages, discussions - from June 01 until June 10
- exhibition part: 'Restoration of the Entity' - 20 days from June 01 till June 20; 10 Bulgarian participants and 8 from other European countries will develop projects for the specific space and theme;
- workshop: creation of a web site of 'Communication Front' by all willing to participate.
With the "Communication Front" project we hope to make possible and give opportunities for: a wide range of contacts; exchange of ideas; performances and open criticism by media activists, critics and curators from Europe; joining Bulgarian artists and centers to media culture through ascertaining their legitimacy in international and European aspect.
The aim of the theoretic conference of the 'Communication Front' is to provoke discussions, to outline particular topical and exciting issues of the problems of electronic technologies in the visual art, and not to pursue and offer already adopted answers and definitions.
Here are some of the topics we offer for discussion and criticism:
- The new notion of center and periphery, whether communication technologies displace the problems of nationality, sex, authorship in the network;
- worldwide propagation: background for personality identification, as a basic preference for the modern artist, an alternative to the geographic and the national
- communicative technologies and the general codes of the visual language as a result therefrom, the arising processes of unification - obliteration of the specific, the regional? (opportunities, alternatives, development)?
- the technological and the artistic - freedom or confinement? (the danger of falling entirely into technicalities thus losing the artistic and vice versa);
- communication technologies and modern artist - a more accessible, more interactive and cheaper art?
- information technology as an alternative to traditional artistic practices?
"Communication Front", the exhibition "Restoration of the Entity" - art and technologies (electronic forms)
The vision of the artist in the process of creation in the artistic conscience
- art is no longer so much preoccupied with the finished product, the esthetic integrity, criticism, evaluation, conclusion ...
- art as something being prepared and given not as something specific and fully finished
(the claim on authorship and the collective thought and conscience);
- art related to reality, problematic, non-material, bringing forth rather critical, theoretical and new esthetic problems;
- the game, the manipulation, the new type of spectator involved in the situation of happening.
Curators: Emil Miraztchiev, Dimitrina Sevova, Monika Romenska, Nadya Ghenova
Co-curator: Iliyana Nedkova