ICA, SOFIA: Kiril Kouzmanov – Chapter 36/50


Kiril Kouzmanov

Chapter 36/50

October 1st – November 8th 2014 

Opening – Tuesday, September 30th, 6 pm

The exhibition by Kiril Kouzmanov (b. 1981) at the ICA-Sofia Gallery is the product of his six-weeks residency with the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York as the recipient of the BAZA Award for Contemporary Art. The BAZA Award is the joint initiative of the Institute of Contemporary Art-Sofia in partnership with the Foundation for Civic Society (USA) and the City Art Gallery in Sofia. The BAZA Award is awarded since 2008 and just like the other awardees’ presentation at the ICA-Sofia Gallery the artist is sharing his strongest and innermost impressions from his stay in New York City. 

The video installation titled Chapter 36 that has been started in 2013 is still in progress. It is dedicated to and built up around the process of reading of the chapter ‘Backbone’ from the ‘The Pale King’ novel by the US author David Foster Wallace (1962 – 2008) whom the literary critics consider to be one of the most influential writers of his generation. The book is used as the source material for the artist’s work. It was prepared for publication by the writer’s editor after the suicide of the author in 2011. The Bulgarian translation was made by Vladimir Poleganov especially for the work of Kiril Kouzmanov. 

In one of the book’s chapters David Foster Wallace defines ‘The Pale King’ as a “kind of a vocational memoir”. Literary critics in the USA say that “’The Pale King’ dares to plunge readers deep into this Dantean hell of ‘crushing boredom’, suggesting that something good may lie beyond.”

The work of Kiril Kouzmanov confronts the viewer with the process of reading, which happens in front of his/her very eyes against the backdrop of the magnificent New York cityscape. The text is obviously hard to read even for the local New York artist Trevor Twenton who is acting the reading part. The thoughts of the writer are enveloping slowly and endlessly like the unweaving of a thread of yarn. The used vocabulary is unusual and involves a lot of specifically medical terms, among others. The process is captivating and almost hypnotizing; the desire to get hold of the narrative’s thread demands viewers’ immersion and participation in the process of reading. You feel like a child who has already learned to read but still enjoy it when somebody else is reading the favorite fairytale. 

The exhibition hall is full of ‘small creature comforts’ like those available to the reading man on the screen – a table and chairs designed by the artist, coffee, tea, and so on that are adding to the coziness of the reading process. Kiril Kouzmanov is sharing his impressions from the great American city by conflating reading and looking into one spatial whole.

Special thanks to: Ivan Nikolov, Iva Gocheva / Nicholas Rubin, Todor Stoyanov, Trevor Twenton and Vladimir Poleganov

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