© AM contemporary, Elsässerstrasse 248, CH-4056 Basel

BLACK HAPPENING, 1990

Eco-action

“This is our first and maybe last political exhibition”, the group proclaimed referring to the Symbols and Signs exhibition. Nonetheless, theey remained politically and socially engaged with their next action titled Black Happening. 

 

This eco-action had the goal of activating the social consciousness of the Plovdiv inhabitants. It was conceived to confront the people in the early morning of Palm Sunday in April 1990. Black Happening met people in the small garden of the Djumaiya Square, a place which you could not avoid if you were heading up to the churches in the Old Town of Plovdiv. The small not-yet spring green park “waited” for people “dressed” in mourning-black “clothing” – the pathways, the drinking water fountain, the trees, and the grass – all these that would have had the aura of spring, were covered with black nylon while in some places the huge cardboard silhouettes of strange and horrific monsters were sneaking thorough. The occasion for the Black Happening was the newly revealed truths about the ecological danger that the nearby facility for processing of non-ferrous metals presented to the whole region. The action was an act of open artistic protest with the social task of attracting civil engagement while reminding people of the recent Chernobyl disaster. The horrific monster figures, the black ground, the sense of lost relations to nature were triggering thoughts about the history of ecological accidents and their victims, about the maddening future of the links between people and nature. The action was posing questions about the political and social responsibility towards the environment as well as the social context and the ordinary people who most often are the victims of disaster. The unhindered pessimism conveyed by the sorrowful park was delicately balanced by the second part of the action – the Wall of Desires, which as awaiting the audience after the almost procession-like climb up to the church of St.st. Constantine and Elena – there was a empty white cardboard surface installed on the outer wall of the church where one could unload the accumulated negative emotions and hopes through anonymous action.