© AM contemporary, Elsässerstrasse 248, CH-4056 Basel

BIG PHOTOGRAPHY, 1991

 

Completely different was the second show of the Edge(s) titled Big Photography. It took place in the spring of 1991 at the exhibition space on 32 Gladstone St. in Plovdiv. It differed from Symbols and Signs mainly due to its none-conceptual and experimental substance. Here the collective image semed to have receeded in the background. This was rather a show of single individual artists grouped within the same space and united by the same materials and technical means. 

 

The show offered a large number of works that could be defined as “photographs” with a high degree of relativity. Materialized mainly with photographic means the works as a whole were marked by the traces of experimentation that took place during the time of shooting as well as in the dark room, as well as within the wide range of options offered by the media. The works in the show investigated to various depths the range of immanent photographic features but they also offered a visual wealth of successful attempts achieved while processing the film and the photographic paper, or while using different filters, raster and photographic emulsions; or while playing with the exposure to light. All the works were under the heading of unusually large formats though. Strongly present were the collage and the photomontage, as well as the mechanical intervention on the negative and the photographic paper. The artists limited themselves to the potential of the black-and-white photographic techniques though not in the achromatic hues. They also used the not-so-rich possibilities of the black-and-white dark room methods, which allow for the color treatement of the photographic print.   

 

The name of the second Edge Group show was possibly due to the large format, which was present as a priory concept in the whole look of the exposition. It was naturally tilting towards experimentation too. However, if we leave aside the formal aspects, there is a kind of homage paid to photography too, which had been making its way within Bulgarian art ever since the 1970ies. In this case though, it was not only the aesthetical issues of the art form but photography itself was an equal partner within the creative process of the artists and the technical execution of the works. Bulgarian artists were not daring to allow this “non-artistic” method within their studios for a long time. Photography entered Bulgarian art in a big way as a technical means but also together with the art forms of the assemblage and the installation, etc. That went along with the freedom of the artist to submit his means to the primacy of the idea. In this sense, the Edge was underlining the expressive potential of this visual language as well as its technical capacities as a carrier of a new freedom of thinking and of a new type of communication between the work and the viewer. Last but not least was the common drive to overcome the limitations of that language in the broadest sense of the word – from the most formal pictorial boundaries of photography, which were surpassed through the use of the intrinsic photographic means; and from leaving the frames of the traditional material all the way to the in-depth attempts to rethink and to go beyond the framework of the conventions and the problems dictated by the media. The Big Photography show was also the first attempt of the group to start working under a common plastic denominator and aesthetic concept. Guest artists to the show were: Georgi Rouzhev, Nikolai Ivanov, Elza Artamontzeva, the Dobrudja Group, Nikolai Minchev and Katia Petrova.