Maria Nalbantova solo show
20.04 - 14.05.2023
Curated by Dimitar Kenarov
They know she exists. They know she is hidden somewhere out there, buried underground, in the old etherite pipes of the water mains. They know that she is responsible for the dried up spigots, for the thirst, for the unwatered flower beds and, in general, for all the problems of this world.
"The foxtail is to blame for everything," they say. "Nature is a scary thing."
She is real and mythical at the same time, the foxtail. She’s like that monster from Loch Ness. Like the dragon that drains the springs. Like the devil's tail.
They know she exists, but unfortunately there is no device to detect her. And so they dig with shovels, with excavators, whatever is available. When they get to the water main, they drill through it, hoping they'll find her inside.
But there's no sign of the foxtail.
Mile by mile, they rip up the earth and then bury it. One week, two weeks, a month, a year. Finding the foxtail is not easy, just as it isn’t easy to find the diseases of this world. Why is there no water? Why are the pipes between the primal spring and people empty? Why have the pipes become monsters covered with spikes? Why are the lips cracked and the tongues dry?
Finally, success. She is there, huddled inside the pipe, wrapped around herself for comfort. They utter cries of joy like sailors coming across a new continent.
They approach her, but she neither bites nor wags. They grab her by one end and start pulling. A doubt comes over them. Are they pulling in reality on the devil's tail? And where the hell is the fox itself?
Gradually the foxtail begins to come out of the pipe. One meter, two meters, five, seven.
They take pictures with her. This will be their most important hunting trophy. The pictures are like pictures of water, water pictures. After so much effort and time, the monster has been defeated.
But doubt remains. Is she really a monster, some ask? Aren’t we the monsters who do not tolerate intruders in the pipes of life, who always strive after purity, even at the cost of murder? Is the foxtail actually our own tail that we refuse to accept? Isn't the foxtail actually the braid of an angel?
Maria Nalbantova (b.1990, Sofia, Bulgaria) lives and works in Sofia. She is working in the field of contemporary art, experimenting with various media and techniques such as: drawing, collage, objects, installation, video and photography. In her artistic practice Maria Nalbantova is engaging with social and political themes while responding to specific spaces where the context and the features of the locale became main aspects of her works. She is also concerned with the history of a particular place which become part of her works through the incorporation of found objects and materials, photographs and archives in the visual “flesh” of the piece. The artist is engaged with questions related to communality and living together, the environment, to care, trust and responsibility.
In 2022 she participated in two project within the nomadic biennale Manifesta 14 in Prishtina, Kosovo – the group exhibition “Self-Splaining (Triumph of Empathy)” of ICA – Sofia, as well as in the “Center for Narrative Practice” by invitation of the OGMS Gallery. In 2022 she also participated in the Media Arts Festival “Schmiede”, Hallein, Austria; the international residency “Art and Science Varna” vol.1 hosted by ReBonkers, Varna, Bulgaria; and she was an artist in residence at Residency Unlimited, New York as a winner of the BAZA Award (Bulgaria, 2020). In 2021 she was granted a scholarship at the International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria. She won the special young visual artist award of Stoyan Kambarev Foundation in 2020. Her works are part of the collection of Sofia City Art Gallery and in private collections.
The exhibition is realised with the support of the National Culture Fund.