Sofia, Bulgaria 4th – 7th November 2004
SPART INSURGENCE BULGARIA
The 1st ever International SPART Insurgence took place in Sofia, Bulgaria in November 2004. The event sprung out of continual discussions between Vassya Vassileva (Bulgaria) and Justin McKeown (Northern Ireland). These conversations were internet based and largely sprang out of the ‘On the road to Bandung’ work which Justin began in February 2004. Another artist, Friedrich Nichtmargen (Russia) joined in this discussion, and very soon it became obvious that the only thing the three could do was meet.
They arranged to meet in Sofia, Bulgaria as that was easiest. Over the internet they arranged a program of work they would all make in Sofia to inaugurate SPART. The event was to last for 5 days and would not only include the three SPARTISTS but would also include local artists and other people in Sofia who wanted to take part. What follows is a rough transcription of some of the highlights of what happened…
The Summit on the Summit
The Summit on the Summit was the 1st Great Historic International meeting and think-tank of SPART ACTION.
On the morning of 4th November SPARTISTS congregated on Cherni Vrah Peak, the mountain over looking Sofia, to discuss and create ideologies, strategies and philosophies for the realisation of SPART agendas. All present shared a glass of Irish whiskey, Bulgarian rakia and Russian Vodka as a symbolic gesture of friendship between the nationalities who had conspired to make the event happen. The 1st day consisted largely of discussions and the swapping of ideology. This developed into playing games with Ideology, which is the only reason for collecting the damn stuff in the 1st place.
On the 5th, Vassya Vassileva (Bulgaria) resolved to present an action. The context for the action was simple but beautiful. Every year Cherni Vrah Peak is covered by thick snow. Many people, who use the peak for sking, in winter loose various belongings assending the peak. Vassya resolved that she would make collect, check, try and record items she found on the peak and then attempt to return them to their owners.
Friedrich Nichtmargen (Russia) also initiated ‘L-R (left to right)’. This lasted the duration of the festival. The essence of this work is the exploration of the construction of Art history through the deployment of the image. Over the course of the festival Friedrich took many photographs of artists together, then reconextualised these images using different accompanying texts. Friedrich also contrived several photographs as another means of interrogating the construction of art history.
On the 6th Fridrich resolved to alter his photographic work ‘L-R (left to right)’ once more. In his own words: ‘the photo session shall not, however, pursue the euphoria of the vast panorama of windswept mountain tops but instead shall look carefully into the corporal mapping – using meta-visual language to analyze all specific modes of embodiment – hugs, clothing, handshaking and the SPART like.
Also on the 6th Justin McKeown (Northern Ireland) made the action ‘Drinking Blindfolded in Sofia, as a cultural survey of the construction of social ideology and power in leisure time in the capital city of Bulgaria. This event went very well: Justin loves getting pissed in the company of beautiful women. Drinking Blindfolded was well received and Justin said it was one of the best places he had ever made the work.
At this point in proceedings Vassya Vassileva (Bulgaria) resolved that SPART only makes sense through its concrete environmental practice. By extension of this she confirmed that SPART is in its own right an epistemological basis of knowledge, one which is distinct and undecipherable if approached from another basis of knowledge.
On the evening of 7th Vassya Vassileva hosted what was perhaps the most engaging event in the whole festival. Using her daily living house as context, Vassya prepared a special dinner for all visiting people involved who had been taking part in events. The theme of the evening was people whose names end with ‘ist’. If their name did not end with ‘ist’, then she altered their 1st name and surname so that they both did. She provided name badges for all present. The night was made complete when the artist ‘Ist’van Kantor sent the SPARTISTS a short email from Berlin which said of the SPART Insurgence ‘This is fucking great!?’ AMEN
To close the event, in the early hours of the morning of the 9th Freidrich Nichtmargen and Vassya Vassileva made a collaborative performance with all the items Vassya had collected on her way up Cherni Vrah Peak. On the bases of both magic and conventional visual approaches they suggested different regimes of ‘spartiality’ which is constituted by, and itself constitutes a different relationship to the art and the body.
text originally published on the SPART Action web site