Nedko Solakov at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (1998)

R. J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 30 July 2010
This article first appeared in World Sculpture News,4(4), page 52 in 1998.

Nedko Solakov at Castlefield Gallery

While CD-ROM art appears to be all the rage on the contemporary art scene, rarely does it take over an entire city—let alone two. Such was the case during September when Liverpool and Manchester hosted the 9th International Symposium on Electronic Art (isea98). This year’s event, organized around the idea of "Revolution", featured work by artists from 25 countries in over 100 projects in a variety of venues around the two cities. Included was Bulgaria’s most praised living artist, Nedko Solakov, 41, who presented an exhibition-installation entitled The Right One.

Nedko Solakov has been very active on the international art scene during the past decade, showing works at the 1993 and 1995 Venice Biennales. The Right One combined three of Solakov’s previous themes from 1992 to 1997 taking the form of a CD-ROM-focused installation. In The Collector of Art, Solakov questions the relationship between art and monetary value, its role as a commodity, and the processes in which it is exchanged. The "collector" is an African man living in a hut who collects American and European art, and makes art deals with unusual currency. Two antelope bones can be exchanged for an early Bruce Nauman sketch, while 13 gets a short video by Bill Viola. Amusingly, the screen informs us: "There was no electricity around so he couldn’t play the piece, but he still remembered the extraordinary feeling he had when he saw it for the first time."

When clicking the button, "to all viewers who think that this humiliates the black people [sic]," the audio responds with: "This is your problem guys, in your minds, sorry." In Mr. Curator, please..., Nedko Solakov questions the system and power of the curator by presenting a competition amongst the ghosts of several big-name art-historical artists, including Michelangelo, Durer, and Brueghel. With The Thief of Art, a Big Foot Yeti steals small artworks from famous collections. Nedko Solakov arranged several objects and a light projection around the space which related to the CD-ROM-focused experience. On one hand, the visuals contextualized the CD-ROM piece, while on the other, it demonstrated the limitations of the technology while providing a three-dimensional experience.

The installation was successful in satirizing the current systems governing the art world, but it also showed the difficulties of incorporating the technology into an installation format. Only one person can experience the installation at a time, and its restriction to only one choice for determining the progression of the interactive path. Yet, as an individual experience, interactivity is heightened and becomes more complicated with the technology. If computer technology is to change how we live and experience art, Nedko Solakov’s installation questions that notion and shows its limitations.