interactive video installation, 2011
Young men and women stare at you from the wall. The signs they hold in their hands tell us these are artists, directors, musicians, stage designers and writers. A punching ball that is placed in front of the video awaits being hit. Every hit of the punching ball, causes the artists portrayed in the video to scream. The harder the hit, the more intense they scream. Until they have filled the gallery space and startled every single visitor in it. The interaction between the viewer and the work forms a music of screams, where the punching ball becomes an instrument to ‘play artists’.
Playing the Artist is an interactive work, which reflects on the themes of society’s attitude towards culture on the one hand, and that of suppressed aggression in society on the other. The viewer who hits the punching ball, is confronted with the screams of the artists even though he is not the cause of their anger. Aggression becomes an instrument of critique.
The screams of the artists in the video are a reaction to the environment in which they live. Artists create their art because they have the inner need to do so and say that they will continue creating art despite the circumstances. Finding the balance between survival and funding their work is becoming increasingly difficult. The lack of a cultural policy, of opportunities for professional development and a chance to achieve financial independence, leaves them in a situation of public irrelevance. The resulting dissatisfaction and humiliation becomes aggression.
At a different level, the work deals with the topic of suppressed aggression. Victims of violence generally do not react against their aggressor, but try to hide their humiliation even from society. Contemporary civilized society rejects aggression and its secondary manifestation as violence. Our daily lives, however, are subjected to constant cycles of build-up and release of aggression. The ambitions of the workplace that go unrewarded, the inability to deal with strain that is imposed on us, generate aggression. This can not be released at the workplace where it could harm one’s career, but collected, suppressed, and finally released in some other situation, like a row with a saleslady at the market.
In Playing the Artist, viewers hit the punching ball to measure their strength, and in response the artists scream, to release suppressed aggression. Even without a real causal connection, audience and artists experience it as process and reaction.
Petya Boyukova, Mariy Rosen, Ivanka Mogilska, Gergana Dobreva, Dobrin Atanasov, Zlatin Tzvetkov
text: Gergana Baeva
picture: Ivan Peykov