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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Daniela I Kostova

Troy,
USA

DANIELA KOSTOVA (b.1974) is a Bulgarian artist living in the USA.

Her work takes the form of single and multi-channel video installation, performance and documentary. It addresses issues of geography and cultural representation, the production and crossing of socio-cultural borders, and the uneasy process of translation and communication. Kostova’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach that draws from the fields of critical theory, visual and cultural studies, ethnography, and cultural geography.

Daniela exhibits her projects internationally: MAN Museum, Nuoro and Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Ferrara, Italy (2006); CEC ArtsLink, NY, USA, (2006); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (2005); Centre d’art Contemporain, Geneva (2004); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino (2004); Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel (2003); and many others.

Her work Invisible Suits was presented at the conference Wearable Futures, Hybrid Culture in the Design and Development of Soft Technology, Newport, UK (2005), and at the Women’s Caucus for Art National Conference, Boston (2006). Her video documentary Body Without Organs was shown at the CEC ArtsLink, NYC and as a part of the 1.60insurgentspace project in Tirana, Albania (2006).

During the period 2000-03 she was Director and Curator of Irida Art Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria where she created an international program presenting young contemporary art from the Balkan region.

In the 2000 she received the International Art Award Onufri in Tirana, Albania. In the 2002 she was selected for the ArtsLink Residency Program in NY held at the CIA, Cleveland, Ohio. Later in 2003 she was granted with a Graduate Fellowship from the RPI, Rensselaer, NY.

Currently Kostova teaches Digital Imaging at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and leads workshops at the Sanctuary for Independent Media and The Art Center of the Capital Region, Troy, NY. She holds masters degrees from both the Electronic Arts Program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY (2005) and the National Academy of Art, Sofia (1998).

Feminist Artist Statement

The late 90s in Bulgaria were marked by political turbulence and economic shifts following the collapse of the ideological system of socialism. During this time I started collaborating with the only women’s Bulgarian group “8th of March” named after the International Women’s Day. The mission of the group was to call attention to the social and artistic problems of women in the present world and to display issues and viewpoints by means of the visual arts.

For the exhibition Shop Art: Women at the Market I created an advertising campaign called DANY by appropriating the popular aesthetic of a Pop-Folk music star. The Pop-Folk phenomenon has flourished in Bulgaria’s historically patriarchal society with its slightly Oriental flavor and suppressed sexuality during the Communist period. It established a standard of beauty and success based on sexual appeal that became extremely popular among the young women in Bulgaria. DANY was realized in a public space and was a comment on the mass reproduced and sexually charged stereotype.

The misunderstood categories of feminism and machismo in Bulgaria’s context are the subject of the video Fair Play. A man and women are forced to drag their heavy shadows of the opposite sex while simulating a race. This absurd game is happening on a football field and there is neither winner nor loser at the end.

Another work from this period, Frame, is focused on my personal experience and the notion of disorientation in the repetitive cycle of daily routines. It was made for the exhibition Subjects and Shadow (ATA Center, Sofia) and presents a snapshot of my private daily life that appears as unconscious repetitive action occupying the margins of the video screen.

Issues of displacement and marginalization have been recurrent themes in my work while living in the context of USA. In Fixing Reality I documented myself struggling to place my missing background at different locations in the USA and communicate with people on the street. This work was produced for the show Don’t Touch the White Woman that brought together a huge number of international women artists.

The violent act of erasure and absence is a subject of my video Invisible Suits where the central figure disappears with the help of a specially designed blue screen suit and real-time computer system that creates a visual merging of the center and periphery. This work was part of the international compilation FemLink.

<p>Invisible Suits</p>

Invisible Suits

Invisible Suits are interactive suits made from blue screen fabric (material used for work with video blue screen technique), where the blue color could be displaced by images or video footage. The intended effect - virtual “disappearance” of the people wearing the suits, is achieved by the use of two cameras: one mounted on the person wearing the blue suit, and another one shooting her from behind. Invisible Suits explores issues of silence and absence, integration and estrangement in different political and cultural environments. It was shown as a part of the international compilation FemLink (2005), at Donumenta, Austria (2004) and at the conference Wearable Futures, Hybrid Culture in the Design and Development of Soft Technology, Newport, UK (2005).

Invisible Suits

Invisible Suits are interactive suits made from blue screen fabric (material used for work with video blue screen technique), where the blue color could be displaced by images or video footage. The intended effect - virtual “disappearance” of the people wearing the suits, is achieved by the use of two cameras: one mounted on the person wearing the blue suit, and another one shooting her from behind. Invisible Suits explores issues of silence and absence, integration and estrangement in different political and cultural environments. It was shown as a part of the international compilation FemLink (2005), at Donumenta, Austria (2004) and at the conference Wearable Futures, Hybrid Culture in the Design and Development of Soft Technology, Newport, UK (2005).

Fixing Reality

In the video Fixing Reality I have documented my attempts to place a portable blue screen at different public urban locations in the U.S. The blue shapeless hole in the space created by the portable screen is later digitally “filled” with images from my native Bulgaria. I use the blue screen video technique as a metaphor of absence and subjectively perceived reality, and to address issues of cultural displacement and alienation as a psychological condition of the global subject. Fixing Reality was originally presented at the exhibition Don’t Touch The White Woman at Fondacione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Torino, Italy (2004). It took the form of a large-scale video installation where the image was projected on a translucent curtain, separating the space into two parts. The visitors were invited to pass through the image/curtain.

Fair Play

The video work Fair Play is based on a paradox. It presents a male and a female performer simulating a race. A closer examination of the work reveals the reason for their strained movements and torment—they are forced to drag their heavy shadows tied to their feet. Each “shadow” is a performer from the opposite sex. Fair Play questions gender constructions and archetypal opposites like male—female, life—death, black—white, attraction—repulsion, and love—hate. Fair Play was part of the project Anti-Feminism, Anti-Machismo, XXL Gallery, Sofia, curated by Diana Popova. This video was shown also in Video Medeja, Novi Sad, Balkan Videofest, Belgrade, Tirana Biennale 1, Tirana, VA (MEDIA.DOC), Sofia.

DANY

DANY is originally presented at SHOP - ART. WOMEN AT/ON/ THE MARKET, an exhibition by the Bulgarian women’s group “The 8th of March” and friends in the underpass “Santa Sofia”, Sofia 2001. The subject of the show is the woman as a commodity and “shopping machine”. Using the exhibition context and its public location I designed a poster that appropriates the popular aesthetic of a Bulgarian Pop-Folk music star. This poster was used for advertising campaign to create discussion about the shifting values of the young Bulgarian women in the beginning of the 21st century.

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51 3rd Street
Troy, 12180
USA

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