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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Boryana D Rossa


Boryana Rossa is an artist and curator based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Until August 1, 2004, she worked as an interdisciplinary artist, curator and writer working in the field of electronic arts film, video, performance and photography. She holds master degrees from the National Academy of Arts, Sofia and from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.

Her works have been shown internationally at various venues such as steirischer herbst, Graz; The 8-th International Biennial, Cairo; National Gallery of Fine Arts and Goethe Institute, Sofia; 1st Balkan Biennale, Thesaloniki; Kunstwerke, Berlin, 2-nd International Art Biennial of Buenos Aires and the 1st and 2nd Moscow Biennial.

In 2004 together with Russian artist Oleg Mavromatti, Rossa established UTRAFUTURO—an international group of artists that engages with issues of technology and science and their social, political and ethic implications. Performances of Rossa and Mavromatti have been included in the retrospective show Renegades—25 Years of Performance Art at Exit Art in 2006 and in prestigious international exhibitions of art and technology like the Biennial for Electronic Art, Perth (BEAP); Foundation for Art and Creative Technologies (FACT), Liverpool; Society for Art and Technology (SAT), Montreal.

In 2007 Rossa was a curator of the Bio-art Initiative, a unique program of collaboration between the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBTIS) and the Electronic Arts department of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, that gives an opportunity of close collaboration between artists and scientists.

Rossa writes for several Bulgarian cultural newspapers and magazines, among which 39 Grama, Kultura and Altera. She holds the prestigious award Essential Reading for Art Writers of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Sofia for 2008.

Feminist Artist Statement

n my artistic practice I incorporate diverse strategies and mediums that interconnect in order to support the message I intend to deliver. I see my work in a continuous interrelationship with political and economic reality, based on the local histories but overcoming them through my point of view from a more global perspective. A pro-active position and collective strategies for influence is what I believe to be an effective engagement of the artist with a socio-political reality.

I consider an important feature of my work to be the capability to connect different places, views, and histories that is only possible on the basis of a first-hand experience through traveling and intellectual exchange. Through my practice I also address the relationship between marginality and center. The fields of marginality are unusually movable—their navigation is problematic, every second they are deformed, mixed, re-defined. The acceptance of the postulate of the mobility and the elasticity of the borders of marginality invalidates the traditional method of making binary oppositions, which is a statement that I relate not only to feminist issues but to the general issue of marginalization and especially to stable definitions like marginalization or empowerment by default.

he wide use of media and technology in contemporary society and the new methods of mythology creation based on the availability of digital devices is another current topic I am working on. Science and technology create the future we will live in. Awareness in that field helps us to not only hail new advances but to evaluate them as potential agents of the evolution of our notions (both positive and negative) and creators of new power structures. In a feminist context, I emphasize the notion of life and the body as a construct (or constructed) rather than datum (static), which gives a different perspective on gender and the body. That can be seen in my performances and some of my biotech-related work.

<p>The Good, the Bad and the Ugly</p>

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This work is my comment on the process of transition from the image of the emancipated woman, backwards to the “careless beauty”—a process that takes place in our post-communist societies. The new post-communist woman has lived beyond the female struggles, for her the bloody revolution flows over into the red world of her lipstick.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This work is my comment on the process of transition from the image of the emancipated woman, backwards to the “careless beauty”—a process that takes place in our post-communist societies. The new post-communist woman has lived beyond the female struggles, for her the bloody revolution flows over into the red world of her lipstick.

SZ - ZS Performance

Is it possible to represent the “real, symbolic and imaginary” (according to Lacan) in one gesture? How can we “depict” the real? In this performance I stitch up myself with a surgical thread to my mirror image.

Blood Revenge 2

“Blood Revenge 2” is a memorial to Rudolf Schwarzkogler’s performances “Action 2 and 3,“1965. For about four decades, the myth that Schwarzkogler died after cutting his penis off has been marching successfully around the world. TIME magazine critic Robert Hughes wrote in 1972: “[Schwarzkogler is] the Vincent van Gogh of body art [who]....proceeded, inch by inch, to amputate his own penis, while a photographer recorded the act as an art event.” Influence for artists and insuperable gesture for some art critics this myth is an international performance art folklore. But it is also legitimized by academic performance art studies like Henry Sayre’s “The Object of Performance,” 1989. Through all my performance art practice I had to “compete” with Schwarzkogler’s ultimate heroic gesture. I was often told there is no stronger artistic gesture than an amputation of a penis. As far as I can’t amputate my penis, I decided to recreate the performance considering the female anatomy. I created a hybrid of art history lecture and a body intervention. I told the true story (according to “Viennese Actionism: From Action Painting to Actionism, Vienna 1960-1965 (Wiener Aktionismus)”). The photographs of “Action 2 and 3,”—the starting point of the myth—are not documentation of an actual performance, but arranged scenes. The model is Heiz Cibulka and Schwarzkogler is only the photographer. After that I asked people from the audience to be my photographers and imitate Schwarzkogler’s photo compositions—the source of the myth. Thus the public took the role of the mythology producer. After that I stitched up the dildo to myself with surgical thread, cut it off and posed for the camera.


One can always find a kind of imaginary museum in the minds of those dealing with art. I have always thought of “Clone” as part of this museum, whenever figuring it out. It is also the most difficult of all to answer the question “why” when it comes to something that is really your favorite. “Clone” is a work of art that can undoubtedly be singled out as an example of clearness of the relationship artist-idea-communication. It doesn’t happen too often that one comes across an interesting concept which is given such a perfect visual form. .....Boris Kostadinov

Civil Position

“Civil Position” is a public intervention in which the artist knelt down at Eagle’s Bridge Square at Sofia Center for about two hours, with handcuffs on her hand and a switcher on her head. The leaflets spread around declared the artist’s appeal for pro-active society. The posture and the attributes were inspired by a police action at the same place. “Civil Position” is a comment on the political passiveness of contemporary Bulgarian society, but also a symbol of the civil position of the individual towards a state that has no concerns of people’s needs.

About the Living and the Dead

Documentation has become more and more important for the history of art especially for the history of performance art. The spectators participate in the production of “art mythology.” An enormous amount of tech devices are now easily accessible. The opportunity the devices give us to create artifacts of “personal memory” about the art piece makes us see ourselves as mythology “producers” rather than passive “mythology readers.” Although documentation in exhibition spaces is usually not permitted, people always take photos with their cellphones and post them to their web blogs, thus becoming both: documentarians and mythologists.

or this series of performances the public was asked to document the action. The documentation is collected as a “personal/historical view of the performance.”



38 Zhivko Nikolov Str.



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