: : photographs and other things : : Missirkov _ Bogdanov


Poehali!, 2011
HD video, 3'36"
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Poehali! (Let's go!) was the phrase uttered by Yuri Gagarin during the launch of his Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961. Fifty years later, we asked our friends to collect all sorts of cosmic memorabilia they had - toys, hand-made scale models, photos autographed by astronauts, Star Wars figurines - and set them on their own flight in space.

Music: Dmitrii Shostakovich, Waltz #2, part 7 of Jazz Suite, 1938
Special thanks to: Alex Rizov, Georgi Yankov - Filmgate; Alexander Zdravkov - Pro Cinema; Georgi Nikolov.

The work was produced for the exhibition "After the Flight", curated by Yara Boubnova at the Institute of Contemporary Art - Sofia, May 26 - June 25, 2011.

Dance lesson #1, 2010
Mixed media installation, 80x80x120 cm.
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Ten years after the photo-series New Mythology, we are coming back to the topic of contemporary mass culture. This time, it's a mechanical micro-theatre in a white cube for a single viewer, with a fake disco star dancing for its fake public. Inspired by memories of countryside fairs, Finnish TV disco lessons, and starring one of our favorite characters - Valentin Valchev, a film director and a friend.

I cannot remember a more convincing and impressive visualization of the mechanical, hollow auto-referentiality of our contemporary pop culture. While making a respectful bow to see the contents of this gently ironic video-mechanical Laterna Magica, the viewer could be tempted to remember quotes from La Société du Spéctacle…

Borislav Borissov

Self-Portrait as the Other One, 2010
2 colour photographs

After more than 20 years of working together, one day we decided to trade faces...

Moskvich, 2009
Half AZLK 1500 car, video projection, sound

A universal pop-folk simulator! Unique experience - a must for everybody who's been interested in chalga music, but has never enjoyed it in a real-life situation! Hyper-realistic impact on all senses - sight, sound, touch and smell. A true return to the roots of pop-folk, featuring Emy Stambolova, Three Stars, Shtilian and his Kitka ensemble.

Complete documentation of the work process available HERE (Bulgarian only)
Login with username: Visiting artist and pass: missirkov

The Unloading, 2009
27 human figures (digital pint on PVC boards),
transport crates from Picasso's works, self-adhesive vinyl, plastic curtains.
Dimensions variable.

Three-dimensional multi-figure heroic composition presenting the hidden machinery behind Picasso's exhibition at the National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia. Starring curators, organizers, pilots, cargo crew members, insurance dealers, plasterers, restorers, drivers, ushers, security guards… - all in real size. Inspired by Picasso's Guernica, Rembrandt's Night Watch and the Pleven Panorama.

Weekend 2126, 2008
Digital prints on canvas

Today, less than half a century after their construction, socialist memorials around Bulgaria look like foreign bodies that came out of nowhere and were stuck in into the structure of a city or into the slope of a mountain. Most of these monuments' contemporaries have lost any respect to them, and the younger generation born after the 80's does not see any symbolics in them; for this generation the memorials serve rather as a playground - a free space for a short session of sex, smoking or a graffiti exercise.

How would these places look in yet another 150-200 years after they'd lost their primary function? How would they be apprehended by the "future man" - the ideal human being in whose name they have been erected?

These photographs offer a possible version of these memorials' existence a few generations later. They mix their original utopian pathetic with another mass utopia myth - that of the low-end sci-fi movies from the 60's and 70's. The abandoned monuments resemble half-rotten Aztec pyramids and have turned into a venue for a nice Sunday walk or for some obscure family rituals. Everything is nice and sunny, the past is happily gone into oblivion, it is the present day that counts.

The images are actually family portraits of close friends of ours - the Smolyanov's and the Valchev's family. Costumes and props have been designed by themselves.

Solitaire, 2007
7 digital prints on canvas

The series, produced for the exhibition "In Search of Lost Time" at the Sofia City Gallery, explores the interiors of several art institutions in Sofia, Bulgaria.

10 snaps from Prague, 2007
10 colour photographs

This is a view of Prague as The Dream Town - a photographer's dream. In a certain sense, Prague is one of those places where the "you press the button, we do the rest" slogan has been true since the invention of photography - the scenery of the Old Town, the Charles' Bridge, the Jewish cemetery have made happy generations of amateur photographers. It seems that every snap taken there would produce a beautiful picture, a potential award-winner - or a sweet memory, at least. In downtown Prague, gigabytes of images are written down every second to memory cards, flash sticks, cell phones, or whatever technology has to offer, and hardcore adepts of traditional photography wander around with heavy tripods looking for that unique spot to capture the spirit of the times past...               ››› read more

On the Tracks of the Bright Future, 2005
7 photographs, text

The series is based on interviews with some 70 upper-grade students in three high schools in Sofia. The theme of the talks we had with them - “what do you want to be”, “how do you envisage yourself after 20-30 years” – gave us the opportunity to mark the basic directions in the dreams of young people, who are now starting their self-dependent life. The photographs in the series visualize seven of these dreams.

The project is part of the Visual Seminar realized in partnership with relations – a project initiated by the Federal Cultural Foundation, Germany.
Field research - Dimitar BOZHILOV
Styling – Sandra KLINCHEVA
Make-up artist – Tsvety HRISTOVA

VIU Life, 2005
12 large-format digital prints on canvas

12 easy pieces about campus life at the Venice International University, San Servolo island, Venice.

RADAR Living, 2003-2004
23 large-format digital prints on canvas

The photographs are a result of the artists’ stay in Venice, Plovdiv, London, Krakow and Athens within the framework of the RADAR exchange programme. The images depict the 26 artists participating in the programme in staged situations taking place in their temporary Venice residences. They reflect the mixed attitudes of a temporary resident in a foreign city, living in somebody else’s appartment, surrounded by objects that do not belong to him, and trying to project the idea of his/her own personality on these strangers’ surroundings.

I Santi Della Giudecca, 2004
14 digital prints, gilded and mounted under plexiglass, 45x60x1.6 cm.
with sound installation

14 “icons” of the people of Giudecca- the island of common people, communists, socialists, prisoners, soccer fans and elderly retired. Soundtrack: excerpts from interviews, mixed together with sounds of Giudecca. The voices remain anonymous, creating an overall flow of different thoughts, expressions and dialects as addition to the personal “portrait-icons”. Discourses on life, good and evil mix up with recollections of past life in the marine, of the quality of meat around the world, or the different pistons in a steam engine…

Off-Season Guide to Giardini di Venezia, 2004
14 salt paper silver prints, 50x65 cm.

“Excuse me, is this the place for contemporary art?”
“But the show, is it over now?”
“No, it is opening in two months.”
“Hmm… I don’t understand; everything is so old here. What contemporary art is that?”

Conversation with an elderly tourist couple from Germany, Giardini, Venezia, April 2003

43°32’ N / 28°36’ E, 2002
16 archival prints on Arches paper, 57x77 cm.

43°32’ northern latitude, 28°36’ eastern longitude – these are the coordinates of the Shabla cape at the Black Sea. Every spring some 50 families from towns and villages from the Dobrudzha region change the geographical latitude and longitude, as well as their regular activities – and turn into old sea wolves for a couple of months. The fishing village near the Shabla lighthouse brightens up and the new season of burning sun, relaxing evening beer, minor neighborhood quarrels and real sea dramas begins.

The small community is constantly changing, some people leave, others come – and next to the old inhabitants, who have been piling up their shabby villas with numerous odds and ends for some ten years, come the new neighbors building their summer dwellings. The windowpanes of the abandoned Icarus bus do a perfect job replacing French windows in the dining room with a sea view. The captain fore-bridge of the rusty cutter turns into a toilet, the old freezer - into a fish store; and slowly the shed for materials at hand changes into a cozy home for family and friends.
The whole place is a strange mix of features that are both specific for Bulgarian life of the last two-three decades - and quite universal as well. The b/w TV set, the taxicab walkie-talkie or the yellow Lada car covered with a blanket bring a nostalgic note, reminding us of our own childhood and the Bulgarian movies of the 70’s. And at the same time, such places could be found on the African, Asian or South American coast - almost everywhere in the world where living the life is more important than adding expensive decor to it.

Cvetana Maneva, 2004
7 silver halide transparencies 70x96 cm., aluminium frame 100x200x200 cm.
7 archival pigment prints 70x96 cm.

The installation pays tribute to the Bulgarian actress Cvetana Maneva. Through a series of photographs presented in different media forms, we discover the significance of both mask (understood as free space expressiveness conditioning and conditioning) and the more personal face that goes beyond the public persona and becomes a manifest of humanity.

The installation portrait consists of silver halide transparencies, in aluminum frame. The mild and careful choice of material represents what might be described as a metaphor of human relations: if we look in a fixed and static frontal position, the succession of the seven films, through to the grey wall to prevent our eyes to recognize the face of Cvetana and see the changes. Only by accepting the compromise of our active participation, we can enter the mechanism of the evolution of the mimicry, and enjoy the expressiveness that it conveys. With an imperceptible difference, the mask of Cvetana Maneva becomes from time to time: surprise, regret, doubt, peace, humanity, concentration, possibilities.

The viewer suspects if she is revealing the narrator or character as a person, but this uncertainty is the gift that comes from having started a dialogue with her, and that is the mark that remains: the mystery of a person. The project is composed of large shots and kaleidoscopic series of Polaroid format, to increase the angle with which to discover Cvetana Maneva.

Martina Stoppioni, FOR Gallery, Florence

Yalta Beach Portraits, 2002
15 archival prints on Arches paper, 50x60 cm.

This series is sort of an experiment, an innocent photographic joke. You spend three days in Yalta, in the crowd of Russian and Ukrainian holiday-makers on the beach which has been the symbol of the Russian idea for a seaside holiday in over a century. You take a set of simple, traditional photographic elements – a flash, a pink inflatable safety belt, a straight-to-camera pose – and apply them on the people you meet. You reduce the additional detail to the minimum – nothing but the sea, the sky, a bathing suite, sometimes a cap or a book – and wait to see what kind of group identity might probably come out of the pictures. The results are stunning – the people are so undoubtedly Russian, with their common history and personal social status emerging from the gestures, the poses, the looks…

New Mythology, 2000-01
11 lightboxes 60x90x20 cm.

This project deals with the widely spread in the Balkan region cultural phenomenon of the "pop-folk". Portraits of famous pop-folk stars in Bulgaria are deliberately shot and designed as "reproductions" of well-known and exploited cultural facts - a popular Bulgarian fairy-tale (the one about the three brothers and the golden apple), a movie ("Wild at Heart" of David Lynch) or a kitchy Japanese stereo post card, etc..

The point is that it is not a simple reproduction but rather a witty reconstruction, ironizing the large diapason of nuances - from sentimentalism to vulgarity - which usually accompanies the phenomenon of "pop-folk". It is rather a post modern flirt with the pre-exploited images of pop-folk’s "new mythology", inevitably surrounding us in our daily routine, watching us from the cabins of the city transport drivers or from the walls of cafeterias… It is a sophisticated way by means of artistic expression to comment on the dilemma if it is better to try to understand a certain phenomenon or to reject it without even knowing where it originates from.

Nelly Rousseva

The Bold and the Beautiful, 2001
16 archival digital prints on aluminium, 40x50 cm.

Boris Missirkov analyzes Americanization phenomena which are uncritically consumed. The photographs of different living rooms at a certain time show the same soap opera appearing on every TV. By demonstrating the uniformity of Sofia life among the older generation, the artist draws attention to the fact that global phenomena have penetrated all levels of Bulgarian reality without being adequately or consciously perceived.

Walter Seidl, curator, Austria

Veterans of Culture, 2001
10 archival digital prints on aluminium, 60x60 cm.

In their portrait photographs, Missirkov & Bogdanov continuously go back to the “glory and drama” of the single human being. The cycle Veterans of Culture is dedicated to elderly people living in a retirement house, all of them divorcees or survivors of spouses. All their lives, they had worked in the field of culture, had enjoyed various degrees of success, had had their ups and downs, and had actually lived through and “survived” a long period of history of the world and their country Bulgaria that is generally referred to as totalitarianism. This same period is often thought of as unpleasant, to say the least, by popular media and opinion, however to these people it was the time of their youth.

The warmth of the work comes from the combination of excerpts from talks between the artists and their models, and from the direct gaze of the camera. In this context the variety of life experience merges with the variety of visual appeal and the entire texture of the past is visible. The telling irony of the cycle is the realization that the ex-heroes of socialist culture are now reduced to TV soap opera watchers. At best they are matching their memories of the (un)realized promises of the past against the glossy screen images of what their great grand children might be able to enjoy “once upon a future”…

Yara Boubnova, ICA-Sofia,Bulgaria

ID 2000, 1999
30 archival digital prints 100x100 cm.

ID 2000 is more than the existing surface structures, it is the reflected reality of a surface-conditioned generation, which has realized the information potential of the surrounding media landscape. Missirkov and Bogdanov took parties in downtown discos and on the rooftops of Sofia as the starting point to mediate the excessive life in big cities, where musicians, artists and party freaks mingle. Looking at the Sofia environment as a backdrop triggers associations with landscape images in the Hollywood area. The painterly gesture of the individual photographs, which almost turns the depicted people into Renaissance icons, not only signifies the perfectly mastered shots, but also the fact that the models are the protagonists of the Sofia art scene, who constantly frequent the city's trendiest events. The glitter and glamour which everybody wants to share, facilitates that those participating in these night-time adventures try to forget the negative aspects of the political and economic transformation by bringing the medially constructed worlds into reality. For Missirkov/Bogdanov it is both: the reality of a (more) democratic (but not always positively connotated) job market as well as the artistic reflection of this development with its necessary abandoning of well-known structures and secure spaces of existence.

Eva Hodek, Prague House of Photography.