10 years have passed since the founding of Open Arts Foundation in 2007. In this important year for the organization, we decided to celebrate our 10th anniversary with the realization of a special artistic program presented in the thirteenth edition of our most popular project – the cultural festival NIGHT/Plovdiv. We wanted to show the road, the causes and the projects of Open Arts in the last decade in our three major programs – City and Culture, Educational Platform for Contemporary Art and Night of Museums and Galleries.
The preparations started in the first months of the year, when Vesselina and Katrin Sarievi, founders of the foundation, invited the team to enter the culturologist Vladiya Mihaylova. Vladiya’s work included a detailed overview of the organization’s archive, meetings with long-standing project participants, meetings with partners and supporters of the organization, conversations with the Open Arts founders etc. On the basis of this research, Vladiya compiled a conceptual framework for a jubilee program based on the motto HERE EVERYWHERE.
Here’s what Vesselina, Katrin and Vladiya shared in early 2017.
“Dear friends, еxactly ten years ago, in 2007, on a chilly February day Katrin Sarieva and me headed off to the lawyer’s office to finish preparing the documents for the registration of the Open Arts Foundation. Half way, right next to the Jumaya mosque in Plovdiv I stopped and told Katrin I didn’t want to start a foundation. I came up with all sorts of reasons – that what was important for us was our gallery, that the name was very general and all-encompassing, that a family foundation is a great responsibility and would put us into a certain public position which I wasn’t sure I wanted to serve etc. Katrin just looked at me and said, “Yes but there’s no other way. We must.”I quickly went through the situation one more time in my head, I thought about all we had done so far and I couldn’t help but agree with her and take the risk of this “we must”. …
Vesselina Sarieva, founder of Open Arts Foundation
“What Open Arts Foundation made with all its activities was aimed at the re-establishment of the dignity of the young citizen. Because the old Plovdiv citizens have some kind of self-esteem built on the family and the historical memory. While the young Plovdiv citizen, who was increasingly oriented either abroad or to the capital city of Sofia, did not feel attracted to his own city. Plovdiv seemed to him narrow, closed, hopeless. Young people needed to live in another atmosphere, in more dynamic, attractive and curious public places. And I believe our activities have contributed to this. “
Katrin Sarieva, founder of the Open Arts Foundation
“Open Arts Foundation was established in an important year for the new history of the country. Than Bulgaria joined the European Union and continued the ongoing processes of economic, social and cultural integration. However, the first day of January 2007, was rather an emotional event with a great psychological impact. More visibly the country has started to overcome the long years division of its existence; firstly, being on the one side of the Iron Curtain, and then facing different visa regimes and constant comparisons between “here” and “there”, we and the others (in the West). The openings up of the borders, the new technologies and social networks have brought a different perception of a world that is HERE EVERYWHERE.”
Vladiya Mihaylova, curator anniversary program “10 years Open Arts” at Night/Plovdiv, 2017
In the following months, the preparation for NIGHT / Plovdiv 2017 (15, 16, 17 September) and the Jubilee Program developed the idea HERE ANYWHERE.
The special curator program of the Open Arts Festival also contributed to the expansion of the idea and motto of the anniversary by including artists and projects from 7 countries – USA, Austria, Finland, Spain, France, Korea and Bulgaria. See more about the Open Arts program with curator Vladyana Mihaylova HERE.
The main focus of this program was the 10th Anniversary Exhibition “10 years Open Arts: HERE EVERYWHERE”. It included documents, archives, installations, interviews; works by Luchezar Boyadjiev, Voin de Voin, Svetlana Mircheva, Petko Tanchev, Dimitar Shopov created especially for the occasion, works by Pravdoliub Ivanov, Kiril Kuzmanov. Curator was Vladiya Mihaylova and Methodi Hadjiiski worked on the architecture of the exhibition.
The opening of the exhibition was in the presence of important guests and supporters of the Foundation, highlighting the speeches of Mrs. Amelia Gesheva, Deputy Minister of Culture, Mr. Erik Lobendel, Ambassador of France, Greeting Address from Mr. Boil Banov, Minister of Culture. In the space from 15.09 to 30.09, more than 10 000 people passed and during the period of the exhibition 3 curatorial tours were led by Vladiya Mihaylova.
The exhibition is thought and created with the idea of traveling, the team is planning its performance in the future and in other cities.
See what Vladiya Mihaylova shares about the exhibition “10 years Open Art: HERE EVERYWHERE”.
“Displaying in an exhibition hall the archive of an organization, which carries on its actual activity in the city outside, and the social networks serve as its communication channels, is a tough task. This is why the exhibition before you does not attempt to close in on itself, but to extend the street into the space of the former Detmag Snezhanka store. To populate it with gravel, maps, an arbour, voices, screens, posters … And also to include parts of the organization’s archive, give voice to partners and friends of many years, show works by some of the artists who have been involved in its activities or share the ideas of different projects. Not least, the exhibition would like to give you an insight into the organization’s “kitchen”, into that administrative window which remains hidden but shows how the structure is supported and where the skeletal system is of a living, continuously active and self-creating form. The exhibition is part of the NIGHT/Plovdiv 2017, so in the space under the inscription DETMAG SNEZHANKA, restored in chalk, some of the projects participating in this year’s Open Arts curatorial program can be seen as well.”
The space of the exhibition was also extremely significant for the work of Open Arts and the organization’s attitude towards the city. In recent years, the foundation has struggled and has focused on buildings and urban spaces neglected or forgotten by the general public. Part of Open Arts’ work has always been to discover and showcase the potential of Plovdiv by making the first steps to attract urban energy and interest in certain spaces. Such were the cinema “Cosmos”, Kapana Quarter, the Tobacco warehouses and others. In 2017, Detmag Snezhanka was not a random choice. With the help of the Municipality of Plovdiv, the old Detmag shop was opened for the first time in 15 years. We’re glad we showed part of the building’s possibilities as an exhibition gallery space.
* The exhibition is supported by Plovdiv Municipality, Ministry of Culture, National Culture Fund - program “Nonmaterial Cultural Heritage”
** Photo credits: Lina Krivoshieva, Silviya Georgieva, Mariya Zheleva, Open Arts archive