Transformation: Plovdiv, my small Paris (Bucharest, Rome, Berlin)

  •  June 24, 2019

Albena Baeva, Stela Vasileva, Ina Valentinova, Vasilena Gankovska, Simone Gilges (Germany), Iliyana Kancheva, Olivia Mihăltianu (Romania), Valentina Sciarra (Italy)

The art interventions in the urban environment of two of Plovdiv’s neighborhoods form the cornerstone of Bulgarian Fund for Women’s project “Sense of a City, whose task is to become a place for establishing a living, organic connection with the city, to address the challenges its citizens face and to reflect the images they see themselves in.

We want to experience our city beyond being discontented and whining about all its problems. Some of us may imagine and fantasize about real living by finding our secret shelter or discovering charm in the city’s ambiguity. We also share and welcome this celebration and rejuvenation of the city as a kind of resistance and strive for a fuller revival. Of course this doesn’t mean we remain indifferent to the places that disturb us with their stereotypes and discrimination, to the ever increasing and more visible spatial injustice, to the expanding problems with the environment and vulnerabilities. On the contrary, public spaces would always be places of dynamic political, economic, legal and cultural contradictions. That is why we need to create new shared spaces for dialogue.

To achieve this, The Fridge invited eight artists of different nationalities, interests and approach, who would rethink public spaces on the basis of previously drafted analysis. It includes both positive and negative aspects of the two neighborhoods of Trakiya and Proslav in Plovdiv, identified by their inhabitants, who share their sense of the city from their own personal experiences.

The artists reflect over this material from the viewpoint of free agents, who may ask uncomfortable and sensitive questions in a direct, fun and sometimes even painful way.  Each artist addresses a different phenomenon in the city, which works as an annoyance, or as а search of visual pleasure and personal manifesto.

Each individual element of the urban territory that we encounter enters the scope of their personal research – buildings, roads, fields, the materials, signs, their uses and characteristics, as well as the relations between them. The phenomena they take into consideration are urban planning, ecology, visual ethics, and last but not least – the lack of female images in public space and its role in society. Thus, in some places around town portraits of strong women are going to appear, citizens of New York, Berlin, Sofia and of Plovdiv’s neighborhoods of Trakiya and Proslav with powerful slogans. In other places, whole buildings will be transformed by murals and graffiti, familiar silhouettes of well-known sculptures painted in “the blackest black” will be placed in the sunniest spot. Or we’ll chance upon a mobile photolab, which uses one of the oldest photo techniques in order to reflect the city in its inhabitants and vice versa. The chosen approach and locations in both regions are related to the attempt of the artists to exprеss the possible ways for creating an inclusive environment and to remind us of this environment’s functions and the common well-being. Their striving refers to the idea that new individual practices and their consequences on the ways we live together – such as the search for some sort of sharing – are the basis of new ideas for the city.

Ivana Nencheva, The Fridge



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