Demolishing stereotypes: mission impossible in Bulgaria

posted by Mira on 2009/02/12 17:24

[ Sofia Absurdities ]

Several big scandles took place in January in Bulgaria, but the one I liked most was inspired by "Entropa: Stereotypes are Barriers to be Demolished".

Entropa installation

Entropa represents a sculpture - a puzzle composed of twenty-seven 3-D maps of the European Union's members, each of them invoking and playing with a stereotype of the respective nation. The Netherlands, for example, is represented by a flooded landscape, with only mosque towers poking above the waters; Germany as a network of motorways somewhat resembling a swastika, etc.

Bulgaria was depicted as a "Turkish toilet" - an image that major Bulgarian institutions and media alike found deeply insulting. The whole story is very well described here. This situation reminds me pretty much about Batak case from 2007.

Bulgaria within Entropa

Probably the fact that Bulgaria continues to be the only EU country without museum of contemporary art could partially explain the total absurd and inadequate reactions of its official authorities, media and general public towards such kind of art installations.

20 years after the falling of communism people on key positions in Bulgaria still expect of the artist the truthful, historically concrete representation of reality as social realism does. Maybe that's the reason why the only possible way for them to react to an art work is to try to censor it. Unable to provoke professional discussions, debates or art critics they issue official protest-notes, demand explanation of the artistic insult and claim the author was "a Czech crook" and "fraudster". As a result the "turkish toilet" is now covered by a black piece of cloth with all the different connotations it raises.

Bulgaria under cover

p.s.: We call such type of toilet a "village toilet" but beside the villages you still have to use them at every Bulgarian border you are entering the country (no matter if it is from Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Romania or Macedonia), in a lot of bars, pubs and coffees and even until quite recently in the main building of Sofia University in the very downtown of Sofia. The only disappointment for me was the fact that the author of the Bulgarian image within the Entropa installation wasn't a Bulgarian artist.

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Welcome to the [Sofia] weblog, a part of the Kakanien Revisited weblog network. The Team - Dimiter, Assen and Mira - all three PhD students in the Department of History and Theory of Culture at the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" will try to create an image - although sometimes a faceted and incoherent one - of the Bulgarian academia, culture, ongoing events, ideas, realities and virtual spaces. All of you - our readers - are warmheartedly invited to join us in this endeavor with your comments and suggestions.
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