Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi Onlus,
Palazzo Giustinian Lolin
San Marco 2893
“How We Live” is a visual dialogue of two individual works by Rada Boukova and by Lazar Lyutakov, which reflect on the concept of centuries-old craft traditions juxtaposed with large-scale industrial production of standard and accessible commodities that intrude into the contemporary living environment. The works were developed specially for the space in the Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, the history of which dates back to the 17th century and relies on semantic and visual opposition to the architectural and historical context of both the building and the city of Venice.
In fact both artists transform serial modular sequencing, which is the basis of their compositions, into a generic world of forms where both logic and functionality collapse into the abyss of the imagination. According to Rada Boukova: “After the ultimate industrialization in our life, there came a kind of repetitiveness where it appears that everything is a subject to the principle of modular construction, often referred to as normalization. You buy one item, then add another one, then another and they are all made so as to fit in with one another. For its part, the work that makes it possible for you to acquire things is of a standardized and segmented nature and devoid of any overall viewpoint.”
The Pavilion of the Republic of Bulgaria at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is organized by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria. It is produced by the National Gallery, Sofia with Commissioner Iara Boubnova and Pavilion Director Katia Anguelova, with the additional kind support of Gaudenz B. Ruf, and the contribution of The Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria. The inauguration of the Pavilion is assisted by Alexandra Estate and Better Half Garage Wine, Bulgaria.
The artists Rada Boukova and Lazar Lyutakov reflect on the concept of the centuries-old traditions of crafts with large-scale industrial production of standard and accessible articles that intrude into the contemporary living environment. The building element in their works is the serial principle of the module; however, its monotony is refracted into individual, specific and unique modifications by the artists.
Both artists’ experience of different cultural realities makes them conscious of the social implications of materials. ‘How We Live’ treats the constant renegotiation of the hierarchy of values such as productivity, quality and utility in today’s world.
Rada Boukova investigates the remnants of ideological, economic and social changes. In this installation she introduces the building blocks of synthetic, industrial construction materials that are loaded with potential for realization as decorative motifs, functional elements or abstract painting. “The sheets I work with are found objects, in a way; I don’t interfere with them. They come as finished products and I put them together in a meaningful way. After the exhibition is over and the panels are taken down, they can be returned for use as building materials. Everything I do can be returned into the consumption cycle.”
Lazar Lyutakov investigates the overall manufacturing and consumption processes; he creates a cycle of sculptures made of acrylate glass; these are structures which match mass-produced items and yet are fully individualized objects from everyday life. In the process of making his structures, the artist includes the randomness of fractures. In this process, failure is intentional but controlled and therefore craftsmanlike. A uniform product, limited due to its individual rectangular elements, is released from symmetry through unique cracks and curves. The artist supplements acrylic glass, the industrial substitute for glass, with handmade glass that introduces a totally different production and distribution principle, rearranging the relationship between the precision of the craft and its value. “The glass comes in the form of roughly made glasses full of small imperfections, revealing not only the manual labour behind the objects, but also the use of recycled material. The market for which these glasses are made requires them to be accessible, which affects the amount of time needed to produce them. This leads to a certain level of chance and to imperfection, which for me makes the products feel like sculptures, because it actually makes them unique.”
The experience of diverse cultural realities in both of the artists has given them an awareness of the social implications of materials. Working with synthetic industrial materials such as acrylate and polystyrene in the installation challenges the viewers’ perception to oscillate between the nondescriptly copious and the uniquely artistic, between sustainability and quick, cheap, but futureless solutions. “How We Live” engages with constant renegotiation of the hierarchy of values such as productivity, quality and utility in today’s world.
Iara Boubnova is a curator of contemporary art projects. Born and educated in Moscow, lives in Sofia. Since 2018 she’s the Director of the National Gallery, Bulgaria and the Commissioner of the Bulgarian National Pavilion at La Biennale di venezia. She curated international and local individual and group shows, festivals and public art projects. Among her projects are the Bulgarian National Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia (1999), Manifesta 4 (2002), Moscow Biennial (2005, 2007), 3rd Biennial in Thessaloniki (2011), 2nd Ural Industrial Biennial, Yekaterinburg (2012) – for that she is awarded The Innovation, Russian State Prize for Curatorial Achievement. She is a founding member of the ICA-Sofia (1995), and a member of the Artistic Advisory Committee of MOCA China, Hong Kong, the Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art, the Yekaterinburg Biennial, and Autostrada Biennial in Prisren, Kosovo.
Vera Mlechevska lives and works in Sofia. Graduated in National academy of Fine Arts, Art History department, Sofia and CuratorLab program, Konstfack University Stockholm. She has Phd at the Bulgarian Academy of Science. Vera has curated over 20 curatorial projects in Bulgaria and abroad. She creates hybrid events that combine her curatorial experience and performative practices. Vera is a guest lecturer at the National Academy For Theatre and Film Arts.
Katia Anguelova is independent curator. Co-founder and director of Kunstverein (Milano), an international network of Kunstvereins in franchise in Amsterdam, Milano, New York & Toronto. She is working in ArtLine curatorial, Milan, public art commission of the City Council, Milan, an open air collection into the public park.
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