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preserved memories

acrylic on cardboard, jars, shelves, paper
120 x 180 cm

In the years of the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria, state-planned economy and constant economic crisis, winter supplies were a way of survival. Usually prepared by the elderly in the villages, the jars of food were delivered in the cities to support the young in the pursuing of the ‘bright future’ of communism. In this way the jars as objects were given a unique position, both temporal (between generations) and spatial (between cities and villages).

In the post-communist struggles for democracy, marked by a new economic crisis, the jars remained an important way of survival. Small, hidden in the underground layer of the home, they protect the memories from the past. These objects became the starting point of the installation “Preserved Memories”. In the installation they are displayed on wooden shelves, i. e. as if they were taken out from one’s cellar. Their spatial position as ‘underground’ objects in the space of the house was transferred in the installations as an ‘underground’ position towards the past, i. e. they correspond to personal ‘readings’ of the past. The jars were not supposed to leave the space of the home. Thus they embody a correspondence to attempts for reconciliation with the past on an individual level, in personal narratives of the past confined in a private space. Yet these personal narratives go beyond the space of the home. They signify perceptions of the past which connect to the public narratives, interacting and corresponding constantly with them and thus adding another dimension to the construction of discourses on the past.

My installation consists of 45 jars: 45 is the number of years between 1944 and 1989, when the Bulgarian Communist party ruled over the country. Each jar contains pieces of acrylic painting which depict images of either public or personal memories. The latter are presented by pictures of children’s, family or passport photographs. Press photographs correspond to public narratives of the past. In this way the installation looks not at the memories themselves but at their representations and conservation in the context of post-communism.

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