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THE IDEAL, 1992 

 

The Ideal was the third exhibition of the Edge Group and it took place once again in the gallery at 32 Gladstone St. in Plovdiv (March 31 – April 15th, 1992). This show achieved the symbiosis between idea and means of expression that the previous shows Symbols and Signs and Big Photography only suggested as an ongoing process but did not fully accomplish. The clarity of the connection between concept and visual embodiment matched the basic issues that the artists in the show were aiming at – the relationship between idea and matter. This problem was seen not only in artistic but also in a deeply philosophical context, as well as in the context of the today’s consumer society. 

This time the space of the gallery was drastically rearranged – instead of the expected view of the well known gallery space, the viewer had to go through a narrow corridor of white panels leading up to a wide circular room. There awaited him ten identical white-primed canvases on the wall. The audience reactions were conflicting. Often people were obviously disappointed with the white canvases. Definitions like “a scandal”, “parody”, and “self-promotion” and so on were present in the local press. There was also the direct and unavoidable association of the “new space” with the female womb, while the viewers were unknowingly casted as the cause for the creation of the ideal – on the next day all of the artists started creating their “ideals” on the blank canvases. That was a new courtesy to the viewer who were allowed to not only realize that he/she is the reason for creation but also to have the opportunity to follow closely the process, the sanctity of the creative action, which is usually guarded jealously behind the walls of the studio.  

In fact the choice of the canvas as a marker for the classical forms was integrated within the main conceptual line of the exhibition. This choice was also determining the visualization of the personal “confessions” through means of the image indeed. There was also the self-directed challenge the Edge(s) were presenting. On one hand, each one of them had to formulate and justify his or her “ideals”, to turn deep into his/her self and to confront his/her individual positions and worldview; on the other, each one alone in front of the canvas was also facing the immense problems related to the purely plastic formulation of the issues surrounding utopia and ideals. Reevaluating their positions of life and philosophy for each one of them had started months before the show with the first notion to have such a project. But the “materialization” of the rethinking had to be accomplished within the short 10-days period in front of the audience. 

Walking through the narrow passage on to the white “womb”, the visitors were forced (to think over and overcome) to jump across a succession of marble plates engraved with texts such as “Go back”, “Time reveals”, “The tenth day”. These “invites” were underlining the working process unfolding over time, which was the focus of the show – the ideal as a working process, utopia as a search process rather than as an end product. It seemed though that such philosophical and existential themes were skillfully mocked by the roasted piglet(s) suspended above head, beyond reach of the visitors. The unobtrusive but strongly felt bitter sarcasm of the show was directed at the audience, which was representing the consumerist aspects of art. The act of “consuming” or the consumers’ satisfaction was left for the Edge artists alone who consumed the roasted meat all alone.       

 The project Ideal did not terminate with the closing of the show. The ideas investigated there were further developed in unexpected modifications within the first edition of the International Festival for Modern Art “Process-Space”, which took place in June of 1992. It was organized by Dimitar Grozdanov, Boris Klimentiev and Diana Popova. The Edge took part with the action The Obvious Breakfast along with the show The Ideal. 

The Ideal project terminated with the film under the same title, which was created on the basis of the documentary material from the show in Plovdiv and with the verbal insights and positions of the artists. This film might easily be considered a documentary though it is in fact a logical artistic summing up of what had taken place made from the distance of time. 

The idea and the materialization of the Ideal project turned out to be a decisive stage in the creative development of the Edge phenomenon and of the relationships between the members of the group. With this project each one of them took the responsibility and the risk to go on an artistic journey towards the self and the peers. And that is the most personal direction for the artists, which each one has the right to experience in a unique way.