Veronika Tzekova (Sofia, Bulgaria)
The Northern Avenue, Yerevan
October 29, 2012
Keeping commitment to her own individual and artistic interest in urban spaces, Veronica Tzekova carried out a series of researches in Yerevan, Armenia. The Northern Avenue was selected by the artists for a public intervention entitled ‘Love of Power of Love…’. The choice of the Northern Avenue in Yerevan did not occur spontaneously; the artist started to work with ambiguous signifiers, framing and filling up the above-mentioned place.
The extensive top-to-bottom efforts of the local government to construct, ‘re-modernize’ the Yerevan city signify the widespread process of commercialization in the post-Soviet Armenia. The issues related to human rights, social existence, and gentrification were in the core of mass social protests of the Northern Avenue inhabitants. Later on, other districts suffered the same processes of gentrification, which, at the same time, demolished the historical part of Yerevan, constantly violating the rights of people on every level: civil, social, and political. Thus, the Northern Avenue is a place that symbolizes the processes of commercialization, re-urbanization, and large-scale gentrification originated in the early 2000s and being carried out until now. It is also worth mentioning that the Northern Avenue is a politically charged place, symbolizing the 2008 movement for social and civil rights. It was a struggle between two different social strata of rich and poor people, which mainly aimed at the protection of democratic values. Starting from March 1, the movement was severely challenged by the ruling power and its subordinates–the national army and riot police, which proceeded to ‘decapitation’ of the movement. Eventually, 10 people were killed (according to official data), a considerable number of activists were arrested, and rallies were banned in all public areas.
Veronika Tzekova is an artist, urban practitioner, and creative strategist. She loves experimenting with the city. Veronika Tzekova tends to appropriate the city without qualms, yet also without abuses. Her work typically creates situations which force us to pay attention to the environment around us and to cease being merely its passive inhabitants. Veronika graduated from the Jules Pascin Art Academy in Sofia and received an MFA from the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) in Enschede, Netherlands (2001). In 2004-2005 Veronika was part of the ‘Transnational Spaces’–a postgraduate program by Bauhaus Fund in Germany. She has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad.
The initial stage of Veronika Tzekova’s residency program at the ‘Art Commune’ was marked by her public talk ‘WITH and IN Public Space’ (October, 15).
All the activities of Veronika Tzekova in Armenia were organized in the framework of the residency exchange of artists and curators between ACSL (Armenia) and Art Today Association (Bulgaria) (2011-2012). The program is part of the long-term collaborative and network program HEICO (Heritage, Identity and Communication in European Contemporary Art Practices). www.atlantisprojects.eu
Building on the already existing Atlantis Network of European art institutions, the HEICO project ‘Heritage, Identity and Communication in European Contemporary Art Practices’ fosters cross-border cultural exchange, as well as the examination of the notion of identities in relation to the identity of partner countries and their political and cultural heritage. The partner organizations have also implemented five cross-linked exhibitions in Germany, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, the Slovak Republic, and a series of seminars in Armenia. The project also promoted exchange between artists and curators through residential programs in the above-mentioned countries, and the results of the programs are presented during local exhibitions in each country. The residency exchanges fostered researches and interactions of artists and curators with local artistic communities, often leading to production of new works of art. The goal of this initiative is to counteract the imbalance of artistic exchange through residencies between Eastern and Western European countries, as well as between the regions of Black sea, ergo Bulgaria, Moldavia, Georgia, and Armenia. Through artistic excellence and interdisciplinary cooperation, realized in artistic and curatorial residencies, the project develops an ongoing dialog. Organized in the context of different national art scenes, the HEICO project gave a very modest tribute to the enlargement and openness of the contemporary art world in Europe.
Partner organizations: ACSL (Armenia), Heinrich-Boell Stiftung Brandenburg (Germany), Rokunstbau (Germany), Art Today Association–Center of Contemporary Art (Bulgaria), K:CAK (Moldova), GeoAIR (Georgia), and SPACES (Slovak Republic).
This project has been funded with support of the European Commission.