Ivan Moudov

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Article

The splendid and absurd

Ivan Moudov, born in Sofia in 1975, is one of the most interesting young artists currently practising in Bulgaria. Despite only completing his training at the National Academy of Arts in 2002, Moudov has become one of the most notable artists of his generation, for persistently injecting new ideas into contemporary Bulgarian art. Working in installation, video work and photography, he is interested in ‘the idea of an art involving and invading into much more powerful and overwhelming social and cultural structures and practices – such as television, advertising, technological means of communication or even road regulations’.
Ivan Moudov is one of the most interesting young artists currently practising in Bulgaria. Born in Sofia in 1975, Moudov only completed his training at the National Academy of Arts in 2002 but has become one of the most notable artists of his generation, persistently introducing new topics and ideas to contemporary Bulgarian art.

Working mainly in installation, video work and photography, his interests lie in ‘the idea of an art involving and invading into much more powerful and overwhelming social and cultural structures and practices – such as television, advertising, technological means of communication or even road regulations’. In his video works, he explores questions of sound, narrative (lack of) and editing, and is interested in ‘simple images and the way they can be manipulated by the means of a very basic and low-tech editing technique’.

Moudov began exhibiting during the first years of his studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Arts. As art education in Bulgaria still follows a classical methodology, Moudov’s knowledge of contemporary art developed from contacts and conversations with artists of older generations, critics and curators.

Although still in the early stages of his artistic career, Moudov’s works show ‘remarkable depth’, as Nedko Solakov has stated, which, ‘combined with his strong sense of the absurd and his abilities in using space, give the audience the confidence that they share some common values (in a world so emptied of values)’.

In 1998–1999, for example, Moudov exhibited an installation ‘The 2000 Syndrome’ at the ATA Center for Contemporary Art in Sofia, which focused on the global preoccupation with the countdown to the millennium and the ‘human need to put time into clear, comprehensible margins’.

A text, three video monitors showing people waiting in front of closed doors and a neon sign were placed in three gallery rooms. The text announced ‘a museum of expectations. A document of a spirit before an expectation is destroyed by the catastrophe of the non-happening… a museum of the end of all expectations’.

In the last room where the neon sign hung, soft sounds of people discussing their feelings about the approach of the millennium could be heard. A parapet passing through the whole gallery detached viewers from the actual installation, providing them with enough physical and psychological distance to see the absurdity of the situation.

By focusing on our anticipation of a momentous event, Moudov’s work was an ironical yet sad comment on ‘the ability and tendency of humankind to create absurds to believe in’ and on ‘expectations that have been lost’.

Moudov has also collaborated with curator Dessislava Dimova to create staged, film-like stills in a poster series ‘Still Life’. Moving the private sphere into the public, five posters show the two young and attractive artists in various poses in a luxurious, decadent domestic setting.

Dressed up in eveningwear, they sit together at a dining table in a room decorated with oil paintings, but neither acknowledges each other’s presence; elsewhere, he brandishes a gun in her direction but she can only gaze at herself in a mirror. The postures are exaggerated and comical.

Multiple identities are created through body language and gaze, conveying dramatic plots and action patterns in which the protagonists are caught in the surface quality of mass-produced images.

The artists, models in a still life, are deadened, soulless. As Moudov explains, ‘Sometimes it doesn’t matter in the least what we are exactly, whether we are overdressed and orderly as befits the environment and the expectations of us. We are dead, as dead as many things around us, but at least it is splendid and beautiful.’

Humour is central to Moudov’s later works too. For the 2002 Manifesta 4 in Frankfurt, the artist exhibited video documentation of his ‘Traffic Control’ performance which took place in 2001 in an event organised by Rotor, an association of contemporary art in Graz, Austria.

Dressed in the uniform of a Bulgarian police officer, Moudov directs the traffic flowing through an intersection in the provincial and peaceful city of Graz, disregarding the traffic lights, which he is unable to see from his position.

Gesturing and whistling wildly but with authority, Moudov performance depends on and gently pokes fun at Austrians’ unquestioning respect for the law. His uniform bore the Cyrillic inscription ‘Policija’ which would have been unreadable to most inhabitants of Graz. Moudov is eventually stopped by the Graz city police.

‘Traffic Control’, like another of Moudov’s performances ‘One hour priority’, are based on the ideas of power, rules and control, and the way in which the artist, as he says, ‘can intervene in laws and regulations without actually breaking them’ and ‘question the often subtle differences that define legal and illegal actions’.

Some of Moudov’s most recent videos, ‘Buffalo’ and ‘4, rue Ste Catherine’ are short ‘documentaries’, in which his position as observer and recorder of events evolves through the process of editing and contextualising the situation. These works reflect his interest in ‘the possibilities of the documentary format for exploring and bringing together problems of real time actions and real-life situations with the questions of timing and narration’.

Besides Manifesta, Moudov has participated in many other important shows, including ‘Never Stop the Action’ held by Rotor, Cetinje Biennial Montenegro 2002; ‘Looming up, at Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna 2001 and‘Trendification, at Rotor, Graz, 2001, both curated by Walter Seidl and ‘What, How and for Whom, a group exhibition, curated by Natasha Ilich, Ana Devic, Zagreb 2000 and Vienna 2001.

Bio

Ivan Moudov was born in 1975 in Sofia, Bulgaria where he currently lives and works. He graduated from the High School of Arts in Sofia in 1995 and from the National Academy of Arts, Sofia with an MA in Art and Mural Painting in 2002. He took part in Manifesta 4, Frankfurt, 2002 and has exhibited widely in Austria, Montenegro, Italy and France as well as in Bulgaria.

Works

Group Exhibitions

Exhibition / Installation,
2005
2005 Dialectics of Hope, 1 Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. (curators Joseph Backstein, Daniel Birnbaum, IaraBoubnova, Nicolas Bourriaud, Rosa Martinez, Hans-Ulrich Obrist.) 2005 Translation Alternatives, Akademie der Bildenden Kunste Wien, Aula & Ausstellungsraume, Vienna. 2005 Strange, Familiar and Unforgotten, Galerie Erna Hecey, Brussels 2004 Rauber + Gendarmen, Schiller Festival, Der Utopiebaustelle, (curators Katharina Hohmann, Katharina Tietze), Weimar 2004 Love it or leave it, 5th Cetinje Biennale 2004 Untitled (As yet), VI Yugoslav Biennial of Young Artists, Vrsac. Privatizations. Contemporary Art from Eastern Europe (The Post-communist Condition). Within Luchezar Boyadjiev´s "Freedom (is) for beginners". Kunstwerke - Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. (Curator Boris Groys) 2004 The sneeze, Gazon Rouge Gallery, Athens. 2004 Junge Akademie, Akademie Der Kunste, Berlin 2004 Borderline cases, SCC, Belgrade 2004 Revolution is Not What it Used to Be, S1 Artspace, Sheffield (curator Michelle Cotton) 2003 Superformances, Musee d’art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasburg (curator Karine Vonna) 2003 In The Gorges Of The Balkans, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel (curator Rene Block) 2003 Blood & Honey , The Essl Collection Kunst Der Gegenwart, Vienna (curator Harald Szeemann) 2003 Hybrid <> Liquid, Casino Luxemburg, Luxemburg 2003 Windows Licking, Olivier Houg Galerie, Lyon “2003 xport - Import, Sofia Art Gallery, Sofia (curator Maria Vasileva) 2002 Reconstructions, 4th Cetinje Biennial, Montenegro (curators Iara Boubnova, Andrej Erofeev) 2003 Manifesta 4, video program, Frankfurt (curators Stephanie Moisdon Trembley, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Iara Boubnova) 2003 In Search of Balkania, Neue Galerie, Graz (curators R. Conover, E. Cufer, P. Weibel) 2003 Circulation, Zoo Gallery, Nantes, 2002 Double Bind, Ata Center for Contemporary Art, Sofia (curators Iara Boubnova, Georg Schollhammer) 2002 Trieste Conteporanea European Video Art Presentation, Trieste 2001 Looming up, Aspekte gallery de Munchner Volkshochsechule (curator Walter Seidl) 2001 Looming up, Kunsthalle Exnergasse (curator Walter Seidl) 2001 Trendification, Association for Contemporary Art, Graz (curator Walter Seidl) 2001 Never Stop the Action, Three days Actionist Art in the City of Graz, Association for Contemporary Art 2001 Nadezda Petrovic Memorial’, Nadezda Petrovic Art Gallery (curator Zoran Eric) 2000 What, How and for Whom, Zagreb and Vienna (curators Natasha Ilich, Ana Devic) 2000 Paranoia style, ATA CCA, Sofia (curator Dessislava Dimova) 2000 Turning the Page, exhibition in the APOLLONIA Art Festival, Sozopol, Bulgaria (curator Dessislava Dimova) 2000 VideoArcheology, video - festival, Sofia, (curators Boris Kostadinov, Iliana Nedkova)

Solo Exhibitions

Exhibition / Installation,
2005
2005 Tatorte und Phantombilder, Kunstlerische Ermittlungen, Weimar, Germany 2005 Fragments, ATA Center / Institute of Contemporary Art. (Curator Iara Boubnova) 2005 4x4, Red House for Culture and Debate, Sofia 2000 Still Life, together with Dessislava Dimova. Remont Gallery, Belgrade 2000 Still Life, together with Dessislava Dimova. ATA Center for Contemporary Art, Sofia. 1998 The 2000 Syndrome, together with Dessislava Dimova, ATA Center for Contemporary Art, Sofia.

SELECTED ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Published Written,
2003
Manifesta 4: defining Europe? Art in America, Susan Snodgrass, January 2003, p. 42-47 02, Driving by Acting, Judicael Lavrador, November 2002 Guide and Video Programme, Manifesta 4, Frankfurt am Main, 2002 Mouvement, Politiquement incorrect, Lea Gauthier, 18 September-October 2002 Camera Austria, Walter Seidl, International, 7.8/2002 artnet.com Magazine,”In Search of Balkania”,Eva Kernbauer, 2002 The annual 2001 of association for contemporary art The annual of association for contemporary art, 2001 Kronen Zeitung, Aus dem Blickwinkel der Jangen, 19 July 2001 Der Standard, Steiermark/ Trendification, 10 July 2001 Flash Art, Apperto Sofia, by Iara Boubnova, November- December 2001 Art in Bulgaria magazine, “Two in a Still Life”, Irina Dakova 4/2000 The Echo weekly “Everywhere together”, Konstantin Ivanov, 5-11 May 2000 PODIUM magazine, “Baroque Still life with vibrator”, Konstantin Ivanov, April 2000 EGOIST magazine - “Moudernism”, Marieta Cenova, March 2000 Sega daily, “Erotic and irony in a conceptual exhibition in ATA” Vessela Nojarova, 02.03.2000 Democratia daily, “Two in “Still life” Roumen Spassov, 08.05.2000 Democratia daily, ”Still life or metaphor of the vibrator”, Rouen Rouenov 21.05.2000 Net time mailing list for net criticism, Videomedeja4: -"Video is a form of survival", Nina Shegledy , January.2000

4, Rue Ste Catherine

Exhibition / Installation,
2003
Video, 35 min, participation in ´Blood & Honey´. curator Harald Szeemann, The Essl Collection Kunst Der Gegenwart, Vienna. Participation in ´Windows Licking´, Olivier Houg Galerie, Lyon, February 2003 Participation in ´Double Bind´, curators Iara Boubnova & Georg Schollhammer, ATA Center for Contemporary Art, Sofia, October 2002

Traffic Control – video

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
6 min video documentary of the Traffic Control performance, participation in the video program of Manifesta 4, Frankfurt, May 2002 participation in “Circulation”, Zoo Gallery, Nantes, 2002 participation in "In Search of Balkania", Neue Galerie, Graz, 2002 participation in Trieste Contemporanea European Video Art Presentation, Trieste, Italy, 2001

Traffic control: performance

Film / TV,
2002
Participation in ´Never Stop the Action´, Three Days of Actionist Art in the City of Graz, association for contemporary art, October 2001 Participation in Cetinje Biennial, Montenegro, June 2002

Buffalo

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
video, 19 min., participation in Shipka 6 gallery, Sofia

One hour priority

Exhibition / Installation,
2000
video, 1 hour participation in: ´Circulation´, Zoo Gallery, Nantes, 2002 ´Paranoia style´, curator Dessislava Dimova, ATA CCA, Sofia, June 2000 ´What, How and for Whom´, group exhibition, curators Natasha Ilich, Ana Devic, Zagreb, Croatia, June 2000 and Vienna, Austria, June 2001 ´Trendification´, curator Walter Seidl, association, Graz, Austria ´Nadezda Petrovic Memorial´, curator Zoran Eric, Nadezda Petrovic Art Gallery

Still Life

Exhibition / Installation,
2000
Photo and video installation, with Dessislava Dimova, ATA Center for Contemporary Art, Sofia, March 2000; Remont Gallery, Belgrade, May-June 2000 and participation in: ´Export Import´ curator Maria Vasileva, Sofia Art Gallery, Sofia 2003; ´Looming up´, curator Walter Seidl, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, 2001 and ASPEKTE Galerie de Munchner Volkshochsechule, 2001– 2002; ´Trendification´, curator Walter Seidl, association, Graz, Austria, June 2001

The 2000 Syndrome

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Multimedia installation, ATA Center for Contemporary Art, Sofia, with Dessislava Dimova Participations in the Bulgarian projects for the first and second edition of ´Chaos in Action´ International Internet Project, supported by METAFORT, Paris

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Spike Island International Fellowship 2001

(01 April 01 - 31 August 01)
images
Ivan Moudov
Kill Kennedy, Fuck Monroe
Ivan Moudov
14:13 Minutes Priority
Ivan Moudov
Fragments, 2003 - 2004
Ivan Moudov
4, Rue Ste Catherine