The project is part of the BAZA 2023 Award for Contemporary Art Exhibition for best visual artist in Bulgaria and was presented in the exhibition of the nominees [25.07.–05.09.2023] at Sofia City Art Gallery, Sofia Bulgaria.
BAZA Award is organised by Sofia City Art Gallery in collaboration with Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia and Edmond Demirdjian Foundation, The Foundation for a Civil Society, New York and the Young Visual Artists Awards international network.
Curator: Marina Slavova
Photographer: Mihail Novakov
‘Second Skin’ aims to provoke a dialogue about the image, identity and perception of women and the notion of the female body in contemporary Bulgarian society, in the context of the persevering right wing agendas which are defined by backward dogmatic mindsets particularly towards women’s and queer people’s role in our society. The work on show symbolically depicts this transgressive transformation away from this predefined dogmatic framework ‘in poetic action'.
The meaning of ‘second skin’ in the context of the work is connected to the symbolism constructed around the existential layers we create to navigate our reality in our everyday life: our clothes, perfumes, memories, old dogmas, the spaces we inhabit, the social masks and makeup we put on to face the world. All these, however, could and should be rethought periodically in order to respond to our current context of existence similar to the way snakes peel off their skin to be able to grow and to heal their wounds. Whilst snakes’ bodies continue to expand, their skin remains the same size. Similar to the way we outgrow our clothes when we are kids, snakes periodically undergo a certain transformation due to their growth through which they peel off their old layers to allow for their new shell to begin to form.
‘Second Skin’ consists of a series of slow exposure photographs and a textile sculpture piece which are intertwined thematically: the black veil from the shots emerges in three dimensional form where it could be inspected in more detail. The veil is seeped with metaphorical connotations - it is a symbol of transformation and change mimicking a shell, a second skin, a piece of clothing, which is depicted in the process of ‘shedding off’. The seamless fluidity of the form of the portrayed woman’s body in movement is interrupted in the contents of the veil through the process of fragmentation which distorts, deassembles and warps the forms of the figure. The images throughout the work are deliberately blurred, unclear and vague in order to portray the female body as a dynamic act in movement rather than a static defined object. The semi transparent layers of the fabric echo the ethereal blurred slow exposure photographs which defines a delicate but pronounced presence.
The ephemerality of the depicted figure in the photographs is seamlessly connected with the tangible surface of the texture of the veil. The two works follow a consecutive timeline in the visual narrative but are also echoes of each other. The gradually formed patina onto the surface of the textile sculpture aims to unfold the history of the semi transparent black shell which is seeped with visual symbols, scars, folds and pigmentations similar to our skin which acts as a witness of time and a carrier of remembrance.