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Burning Documents

Format: Dias, Video
Burning Documents
Performance by Albena Mihaylova /Bendji
In front of the hall of Plovdiv Artists, 32 Sasho Dimitrov Str.
at the opening of the annual Youth Artists Exhibition in May 1989.
Bendji / Albena Mihaylova is a participant in the annual Youth Artists Exhibition. Her monumental installation - a huge handprint and a corroded metal plate - has captured an unusual presentation space - it hangs in the middle of the hall. Its name is «Open List for B.». «Open List» is a necessary document issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to sail with a boat along the Black Sea.
The exhibition visitors are startled and her colleagues are surprised when, without prior announcement, Bendji undresses the strange robe she has been walking with so far, puts it on the sidewalk in front of the hall and lights it. The robe is a collage of the artist‘s personal documents - police letters to her, bans on sailing or leaving the country, fines for contacting foreign nationals, etc. Like a papier-mâché sculpture or a human hulk, the slave burns like a living man. The visitors lay the flowers, they carry for the exhibition beside the burnt remains.
The author responded to the communist government‘s crackdowns on the „revival process“ in Bulgaria since the mid-1980s. Albena has become an unwanted target of security services because of its relationship with a boy of Turkish ethnic origin.
The act of the artist is reminiscent of Jan Palah‘s self-ignition act from January 1969. Only 20 years have passed since the Prague Spring political collisions. But who remembers?
10 pcs. color slides from the performance
6 black and white photos, digital only
Original document, A4, bilateral - Penal order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of 25.06.1985
Parachute pants, sewn by the author for the performance
Photo Camera Exakta VX500
Ausstellunshalle DPH Plovdiv, Bulgarien, 1989

Full spec

Albena Mihaylova
00:01:07, loop
Plovdiv, Bulgarien