For this year’s edition of „LOOK – Ecology and Technology” project, Charta Gallery participates with the presentation of two artists – Maria Nalbantova and Michaela Lakova with the „natura naturata” exhibition.
„LOOK – Ecology and Technology” is held for the second year as a platform for presenting contemporary creative positions, exploring and interpreting socio-ecological problems through experimentation with new materials and technologies. The main goal of the project is to initiate the creation of a high-quality artistic product that will deepen the interest in new hybrid forms between contemporary art and digital technologies.
The spatial installation „Post-market” by Maria Nalbantova is exhibited in the inside space of the gallery. The installation presents a critical view of the relationship between capitalism and ecology, exploring the theme of recycling and transformation of various commodities, looking at those that are trash for some and value for others. This „trash” sometimes returns to the flea market several times before it ends up in landfill and recycled. Every Saturday and Sunday at the Sofia Flea Market in the „Malashevtsi”, the market day starts at 4:00 a.m. The first buyers arrive with headlamps and lanterns, and some buy the valuable goods directly on the principle „from the bag in hand”. As the day progresses, moods change, prices vary, goods are scattered around or neatly arranged on the ground or on different tables. Objects originating from past centuries appear, antiques, entities, books, electronics, personal belongings, and sometimes even entire laboratories with their attributes. All these artefacts form a spatiotemporal landscape. By 12 p.m. everything is on sale, and some sellers are abandoning some or all of their unsold merchandise. The market area fills up with abandoned objects that become part of the local landscape before reaching the dumpsters, and from there perhaps back to the flea market. Regardless of where they came from – attic, basement or other country – the commodities left behind become the elements of the work „Post-market”, where hybrid objects exist in a shared whole.
Michaela Lakova’s installation „From Hard to Soft” explores nature as a space for storing time and memory. Inspired by her recent travels to Iceland and the Eastern Rhodopes, where she collected volcanic and agate stones, in the current exhibition these stones and their microscopic minerals are printed on large objects. The stones are presented as a processual link between past and present, as a state of a particular place or object, where the present state is the result of inertia and forces that have modified the
past. The work is concerned with contemporary ecological problems related to the preservation and protection of nature, questioning the anthropocentric view of man as the centre of the universe. If stones have the property of storing time and memory, are they not on the same ontological plane as living organisms? Culture and nature are considered not as dichotomous and subordinate to each other, but as interconnected and even placed on the same ontological level. The installation was realised with the assistance of the Earth and Man National Museum, Sofia. The artist’s ecological quests are further developed in the video „Underneath”, which shows the findings of a group of divers during their daily expedition in Silfra. The video was shot in Hjalteyri, a small fishing village in North Iceland during the art residency „INSULA CAMPO VERITÀ”.
Maria Nalbantova (1990, Sofia) is an artist in the field of contemporary visual arts. Experiments with different media and techniques, such as drawing, collage, objects, installation, video and photography. The questions Nalbantova is concerned with in her artistic practice are related to the problems of people’s coexistence, the environment, care, trust and responsibility. In 2022, she participated in two of the projects of the nomadic biennial Manifesta 14 in Pristina, Kosovo – the group exhibition „Self-Splaining (Triumph of Empathy)” of the Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia and at the „Center for Narrative Practices” by the invitation of the gallery OGMS; at the Schmiede Media Arts Festival, Hallein, Austria; in the international residence „Art and Science Varna” vol.1 of ReBonkers. In March and April 2022, she worked at „Residency Unlimited” in New York, as a winner of the BAZA Award for contemporary art (2020).
Michaela Lakova (1987, Sofia) is a visual artist based between Sofia and Rotterdam. In her work she explores digital traces, the notion of erasure and memory and how they impact our perception of ownership. Through her works she challenges the slippery nature of digital memory over the immateriality of human memory. Her practice includes a diverse range of media: video, prints, found objects, web/screen based works and installations.