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The work Fragments by Moudov at first glance looks like an almost exact copy of Marcel Duchamps Bote-en-valise [The

box in a suitcase], inscribing itself in the entire history of the emanations coming after the work of Duchamp. As if the young Bulgarian artist has followed the instructions of an existing definite text a pick-up dictionary museum in a suitcase, texts with which Duchamp sent instructions to his sister from Argentina in order to make this museum in a suitcase. In this case, Moudov has appropriated, virtually and materially famous objects from the world of art, which are the property of great museum institutions. In fact the veteran of this qxproach in the Bulgarian art scene is Nedko Solakov. For years this artist has been working in the direction of institutional critique an approach that has become essential to his work. Amidst a long list of projects realized by this artist predominantly for large museum institutions, decisive events and important private spaces of the art world, I will mention: His one-person show Leftover 2005 at Kunsthaus in Zurich, Art & Life (in my part of the world) 2005 at IXth Istanbul Biennale, A (not so) White Cube 2001 at P.S., New York. Ill dwell only on two installations which are directly connected to the local scene of contemporary art. If they have not played the role of a driving force in the events, they have at least broadened the horizon. They have carried the smell of gunpowder and have been a bombastic celebration for this scene. Both installations can be regarded as true little conquests, and both will stay as valuable in the archive of those having achieved real historical value. The adventures (and visions) of Franois de La Bergeron on Bulgarian lands, French Institute, Sofia, 1993. The narrative in this installation is seen and told through the point of view of an imaginary traveler who crosses Bulgaria in modern times (before socialism). He is the emblematic figure of the typical Western observer of exotic places from the modern era, whose attention is grabbed by everything found on his path that does not hint at the modern cultural achievements of the locals. Solakov plays on the one hand with a reversal of perspectives and dislocation in order to underline the contradictions in the action of the mechanisms and reflexes in the systems of values. On the other, he proposes an ironic criticism both of anthropological stereotypes for describing the customs and values of people through objects of everyday life and ethnographic stereotypes. At the same time this criticism is ironically directed at himself and the local armored local understanding of national value and its construction based on the disdained folkloristic and mythological peculiarities. To this aim the artist introduces in his installation his own collection of Bulgarian masters. In order to devoid them entirely of their artistic value. These works of art are only part of the general installation, turned into objects, scribbled on, painted over, with notes written on them and such, outright desecrated by Solakovs intervention, brought to their own cultural popularness and the dilemma: ethnographic or art object? The artist questions the hierarchical system for attributing economic and artistic value in the national art-historical context and the speculative art market showing faintly on the horizon. This is happening at the beginning of the 90s, a period in which the Bulgarian old masters were being sold at exuberant prices on the deeply local art market in Bulgaria due to speculative games and schemes for laundering money, whereas they had no value whatsoever on the international market. 14


The following comparison imposes itself: At that time the local reaction to an international exhibition was stronger than now. There was a provincial market with its products and collectors. Local powers were much stronger, you see. Beral was chastised, as I would be later on. That was the late 80s and many dictatorships were dying or fading away, mutating into neo-liberal political systems. There was a lot of money around and a boom in provincial collections. The [Istanbul] Biennial intervened in this social space and problematized it, even though it had been an agent of the neo-liberal economy. Carolee Thea, Interview with Vasif Kortun, op. cit., p. 56.

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