An exhibition by Albena Baeva
Albena Baeva’s new exhibition critiques discussions in various online platforms. Closed in their own bubble, constructed solely out of similar views and sympathetic argumentation, and isolated from any contradictory words, the participants in these online discussions view the world through the distorted reflections on their walls. It is on these walls where the opinions that are most frequently repeated become reality without the need for further proof, and where the loudest insults become the new norm for debate.
The basis for the works in the exhibition forms the banal daily sexism that is used in these discussions in order to reject, devalue and insult women. The vocabulary of this sexism often refers to animals such as pussy, cow or pig. Baeva’s sculptures bring these words to live in the form of new hybrid creatures, chthonic goddesses and beasts that come from the dawn of our being to remind us of the need to confront the problems of our times. They form a visual reference to the texts of American writer Donna Haraway. Baeva created these mythological beings using 3D models from online collections of open source models such as Thingiverse and Sketchfab. These models were then recombined and recreated through 3D printing technologies.
In the exhibition, these hybrid goddesses face the interactive installation “The Civyls” (a play on Sibyl and “civility”). In it, a many-headed prophet spouts sexist comments found under articles about women’s rights. The installation engages the viewer in a dialogue, in a way that we have come to know from Baeva’s previous works such the exhibition Only The Two of Us (2015, a tribute to Bulgarian poet and musician Dimitar Voev), Archaeologies (her 2014 solo-exhibition at the Vaska Emanouilova Gallery) and The Last Benjamin (a work from 2014, for which she was nominated for the Baza Award). The mythology of the exhibition The sheep, the snake, the bitch and their pig is further explored in a series of collages that include augmented reality and which comment on topical social problems in Belgrade, Sofia, Lozenets and Phoenix.
The exhibition’s theme is a continuation of works that Baeva showed at ASU Art Museum Project Space (Phoenix, 2016) and in Novilla (Berlin, 2017). The sheep, the snake, the bitch and their pig is realized with support from the Gaudenz B. Ruf award, Credo Bonum Gallery, CEC Artslink, ASU Art museum and Studio Art.E.
Works by Albena Baeva include interactive design, experimental video, performance and theatrical productions. She has completed two MA’s; one in Restoration and one in Digital aArt, at the National Academy of Art in Sofia, during which she specialised in the technologies of art from the 12th to the 21st century. She has been awarded the Essl international award for contemporary art, and the VIG (Vienna Insurance Group) Special Invitation. Baeva is the founder of Runabout project, a platform for interdisciplinary performance, and of the studio for interactive design Reaktiv. She has held artist in residencies in the Netherlands, Greece and the USA. Her work has been shown in the museum of contemporary art Essl (Austria, 2011), EMMA (Finland, 2013) and the museum of contemporary art Vojvodina (Serbia, 2016). In the last year alone, her work has been shown in Bulgaria, France, Lithuania and Turkey.