The good, the bad and the wickedly humorous
Boryana Dragoeva received a classical training in art, graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1997. Since then, however, she has become one of the most interesting young video artists in Bulgaria, engaged in creating innovative multimedia shows and internet presentations that explore contemporary issues of gender, technology, identity and cybernetics, with dark humour. Dragoeva also works as a curator and has produced films.
Boryana Dragoeva received a classical training in art, graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1997. Since then, however, she has become one of the most interesting young video artists in Bulgaria, engaged in creating innovative multimedia shows and internet presentations.
She belongs to the generation of Bulgarian artists born in the late sixties and during the seventies who, as Ilina Koralova has written, ‘did not need any special mental readjustment in order to join the general flow of the modern artistic discourse whose new parameters were determined by the end of the Cold War and the ‘velvet revolutions’ in Eastern Europe’.
Indeed, like many of her contemporaries, Dragoeva seeks to locate her work in a broad creative context, that stretch far beyond the confines of ‘domestic’ issues. Although her generation did experience part of the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria, it was during the latter stages when ideology was weakening. Koralova points out that for these artists, then, ‘the legacy of the past serves them only as a reason for irony, not for justification’. She continues, ‘They are concerned with more or less the same problems as their peers throughout the world. The images of mass culture they grew up with are no different from those that occupy and absorb the minds of young people worldwide. They all face the question of defending their own identity in the space of an increasingly more unified value system.’
Indeed, in one of Dragoeva’s most recent projects, she collaborated with Oleg Mavromatti and Spooky-bot to produce a touring multimedia show ‘The Citizen Robot’ (2003), that sought to explore and expand the relationships between humans and robots. The show toured from the Irida Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria to the L gallery in Moscow, Russia and to FACT in Liverpool, UK.
The position of women in contemporary society is also under investigation by Dragoeva. ‘The Thing I Had To Do’ (2000) was darkly humorous video and audio work about hysteria that attempted to move beyond the ‘language, or regression, historically associated with the female hysteric’. A recent photographic series, ‘Good, Bad & Ugly’, 2002 provides humorous, tongue in cheek exposition of the image of the ‘new successful feminism’. Dragoeva explains, ‘The new woman needs to be such as she is seen by the misogynist. She is cynical, egotistical; the only thing she’s interested in is her own personality, her own comfort, her own numbing …The image of the new woman is the image of the new carelessness – this is the way that woman can achieve success, and avoid the problems all generations of women before her have created for themselves.’
In 2001, Dragoeva was shortlisted for the Visiting Arts Fellowship at Spike Island. Her nominee, Boris Kostadinov, a curator, critic and the Heard of the Association for Contemporary Art in Bulgaria, pointed out that Dragoeva’s technological expertise enabled her ‘to join the global artistic process which is gradually filling the existing gap between artist practices in the East and West’.
Her videos ‘Celebrating the Next Twinkling’, ‘Back & Forth’, ‘The Moon and the Sunshine’ and ‘Why Beauties Fall in Love with Beasts’ have been shown internationally at venues including Video Medeja, Novi Sad, Serbia; VideoPositive, Liverpool, UK; Steirischer herbst, Graz, Austria; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, US; The 8th International Biennial, Cairo, Egypt; Regina Gallery, Moscow, Russai and Kunsthalle, Vienna, Austria.
In addition to her artistic practice, Dragoeva works as a curator. In 2003 she curated ‘Cine Fantom: Russian Alternative Films’ for the House of Cinema in Sofia, Bulgaria and ‘Defenceless and Bad’, an international multimedia show for L Gallery in Moscow. The latter project invited artists to respond to the statement, ‘The acceptance of the postulate of the mobility and the elasticity of the borders of marginality invalidates the traditional method of making binary oppositions’, reflecting the artist’s own interests in issues of marginalization and postmodernity.
Since 2000 Dragoeva has also been a member of the Supernova Movie Union, founded in 1995 in Moscow by the Russian artist Oleg Mavromatti. In 2001 she produced Mavromatti´s movie ‘The Biggest Meatball in the World’, 2002, an intellectual satire on the contemporary art world. The film premiered at the Film Museum in Moscow.
Author: Diana Yeh, Visiting Arts
Boryana Dimitrova Dragoeva was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, 1972 where she currently lives and works. She was educated at the Secondary School of Fashion in Sofia and later studied at the department of mural painting and public art in the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, graduating in 1997. She works mainly in photography and video art and her works have been shown internationally. Since 2000 Dragoeva has been a member of the Supernova Movie Union, founded in 1995 in Moscow by the Russian artist Oleg Mavromatti.
Exhibition / Installation,
2003 ‘CINE FANTOM- Russian alternative films’, (catalogue), Panorama of Russian alternative films from the mid 80’s till 2002 - House of Cinema, Sofia, Bulgaria
2003 ‘Defenceless and Bad’, (catalogue), international multimedia show, L Gallery, Moscow
GROUP EXHIBITIONS 1999–2005
Exhibition / Installation,
2005 ´\prologue new feminism/new europe´, Cornherhouse, Manchester, Uk
2003 ‘Defenceless and Bad’ (catalogue), multimedia show, L Gallery, Moscow, Russia centred on the idea that everybody is equal, because everybody is marginal, and this is the only law valid for all!
2003 ‘Export-Import’ (catalogue), retrospective of Bulgarian contemporary art; Sofia City Gallery, Bulgaria
2002 ‘2nd International Art Biennial Of Buenos Aires, (catalogue), Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2002 ‘Double Bind, (catalogue), Austrian/Bulgarian project, video, photography, installations; XXL Gallery, Sofia
2002 ‘The First Kansk Video and Film Festival’, Kansk, Russia
2002 ‘Kulturdrag Nach Osten’, international multimedia/performance show on the way of the Trans-Siberian High Way, toured Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Kansk, Irkutsk, Moscow
2001 ’Looming Up -– Munich’, Actuelle Foto und Videokunst aus Bulgarien, (catalogue), actual video and photography from Bulgaria, toured Kunsthalle, Vienna, Austria; Munich, Germany
2001 ‘3rd International Videoart festival’ – ‘Videoarchaeology’, Sofia, Sofia City Gallery
2001 ‘INTERSTANDING 4: end repeat’, international media-art forum; Rotermann Salt Storage, Tallinn, Estonia
2001 ‘WRO 01–9th International Art Biennial, Wroclaw, Poland
2001 ‘get that balance’, video and photography by women; Kampagnel, K3, Hamburg, Germany
2001 ‘The 8th International Biennial’, (catalogue), Cairo, Egypt
2001 ‘Crossing Over 5’, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, USA
2001 ‘Intrigued & Seduced’, Khyber Centre for the Arts, Halifax, Canada
2000 ‘Steirischer Herbst, – Video as a Female Terrain’, (catalogue), toured Graz, Austria, Barbara Gross Gallery, Munich, Germany
2000 ‘Anti-Feminism, Anti-Machismo’, (catalogue), XXL Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria
2000 ‘Dreamcatcher’, International Video Art and Short Film Festival, (catalogue), Kiev, Ukraine
2000 ‘Video Positive 2000’, (catalogue), Unity Theatre, Liverpool, UK
1999 ‘VideoMedeja’, The Forth International Video Summit, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
1999 ‘Videoarchaeology’, International Video Festival, Sofia/Paris
1999 ‘Communication Front’, Forum for Digital Arts, (catalogue), Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Exhibition / Installation,
2003 ‘The Citizen Robot’, together with Oleg Mavromatti and Spooky-bot, toured Irida Gallery, Sofia; L gallery, Moscow and FACT, Liverpool. A multimedia show exploring and expanding the relationships between humans and robots,
2002 ‘The Good, the Bad, the Ugly’, toured XXL Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria; Art Vienna, AU; In-Out, Prague, CZ. Digital photography exploring the idea that the image of the new woman is the image of carelessness and that this is the new successful feminism.
2000 ‘The Thing I Had To Do’, toured XXL Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria; Khyber Center for the Arts, Halifax, Canada. Approaching the humorous, yet veering equally towards the disturbing, the work manifests a moving beyond language, or regression, historically associated with the female hysteric.
2000 Residency at the Wexner Center for the Arts, for the movie project ‘Why Beauties Fall in Love With Beasts’, Columbus, Ohio, USA
1999 Residency for video postproduction of ‘Celebrating the Next Twinkling’, Ljudmila Medialab, Ljubliana, Slovenia