In her new project, ‘Metamorphosis’, Bora Petkova has put together a collection of pieces from her art that seem to lack, at least at first glance, any connection. But what links its elements – laid out in the midst of the Entomology Collection and the vitrines for temporary exhibitions of the National Museum of Natural History – into a thorough process of development and transformation is the concept of metamorphosis. It applies in equal measure for both the artist and her art. Using mostly public art and changes of context, Petkova has created a string of complex connections between objects, their stories and her own biography.

Drawing after a photography from \'Stop Being a Tourist. Start a Revolution. Start Feeling at Home\' (2011), graphite on paper 50% Cotton, 64/96, 2015 © Bora Petkova

Drawing after a photography from \’Stop Being a Tourist. Start a Revolution. Start Feeling at Home\’ (2011), graphite on paper 50% Cotton, 64/96, 2015 © Bora Petkova

The first cycle, ‘Outlooks’, is a sequence of old photographs that Petkova came across while mountaineering in 2014. By that time the views in these pictures had gone long before – not only as material reality but also as photographed memories: they either had faded into nothing or had been ‘re-painted’ by the mould and dust with which time has coated the picture surface.

The next series was born out of ‘Stop being a tourist. Start a revolution. Start feeling at home’, an inscription that Petkova saw on a roadside billboard in the Berlin district of Lichtenberg in 2011. She made it the title of a project dedicated to the state of vagabondage and the idea of home, confessing that ‘my revolution began when I was a “tourist” ’. Exploring the unfamiliar and foreign environment, Petkova has again opted for a series of accidentally discovered photographs of ikebana as well as for performative sculpture as the most suitable form of expressing her estrangement and weightlessness towards everything around her. Be it as it may, her levitation is always connected to the attachment to specific elements of this environment.

‘Own Space Outdoor’ (2011) is an ongoing project that, too, continues as a photography-and-video research of places that this artist’s detail-sensitive eye has stumbled upon. Here she is working not with objects but with found spaces, appropriating them into the image.

‘Imago’ is the next stage, and is here only as a promise. It is in the image that the separation from reality takes place performed by ‘levitation’ in the void public spaces. The act of drawing frees her fully from the vacillations, estrangement and, ultimately, the conditionality of the landscape. Just like in the found ‘outlooks’, it has been reduced to little more than a landscape sign and an object.
In this case the connection between these sequential projects – created in the space between Germany and Bulgaria – and the life cycle of butterflies is a distinct one. The question that remains is about the stage Bora Petkova has reached. Is it a declaration of her creative maturity and integration, or is merely a transition? ‘Metamorphosis’ does not offer a completed work but rather the larva it is to grow from.

Bora Petkova was born in Varna in 1979. She graduated with a master’s degree in sculpture from the National Academy of Arts in 2004. She is the holder of the following prizes for a young artist: the Sts Kiril and Methodius International Foundation Award (2005), the Mtel Award (2007) and the Gaudenz B. Ruf Award (2008). In 2008 she took part in the Young Artists Biennial in Bucharest, Romania. Until 2009 she worked in Bulgaria, doing development-bound spatial installations and site-specific works at the Credo Bonum, Raiko Alexiev and Vaska Emanuilova galleries, all in Sofia, and at the Georgi Velchev Museum in Varna. In 2010 she won the UniCredit Full Grant for the international residence programme of the Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella, Italy, and took part in the Second International Biennial in Antakya, Turkey. In the same year she started public-space projects. In 2011 she won a research scholarship from the Goethe-Institut, and went on to work at the international residence programme of the Lichtenberg Studios in Berlin. After 2012 she exhibited her works at institutional and museum spaces: the P.K. Yavorov House Museum at the National Museum of Literature (funded by the Gaudenz B. Ruf Foundation); the Sofia Arsenal Museum for Contemporary Art; the Sofia City Art Gallery; Goethe-Institut; UniCredit Studio, Sofia; the Banya Starinna Center for Contemporary Art in Plovdiv; the Plovdiv Museum of History; and the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia. Bora Petkova’s works are in the collections Art Center Hugo Voeten and the Contemporary Art and Photography Fund of the Sofia City Art Gallery.

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