HEICO Curatorial Research and Exchange

Emil Mirazchiev (Bulgaria) and Jakob Racek (Germany and Bulgaria)
Curatorial research and exchange with ACSL within the HEICO International Networking Program (Heritage, Identity and Communication in Contemporary European Art Practices)

The curatorial research and exchange program was carried out as a visiting curatorial and research residential program at the ‘Art Commune’ by Emil Mirazchiev (artist and the director of the Art Today Association, Center of Contemporary Art in Plovdiv) and Jakob Racek (curator, Robert Bosch fellowship for cultural managers in Southeast Europe, Art Today Association in Plovdiv). A reciprocal visit inbolving Bulgarian art centers in Plovdiv and Sofia as well as artist studios and galleries was made by Susanna Gyulamiryan (curator, art critic, and head of ACSL).

The goal of the above-mentioned curatorial research and exchange program was to counteract the imbalance of artistic exchange through residencies between Eastern and Western European countries, but also among the regions of Black sea, including Bulgaria, Moldavia, Georgia, and Armenia. Through artistic excellence and interdisciplinary cooperation, realized through artists’ and curators’ residencies, the project broughts genuine attention to and develops an ongoing dialog, resulting in concrete public projects such as exhibitions, publications, and workshops. Organized in the context of the different national art scenes, the project gave a modest tribute to the enlargement and openness of the contemporary art world in Europe. Furthermore, the residency program offered the artists and curators a specific opportunity to broaden their professional relations through studio visits and meetings with local art scenes. Another aim of the reciprocal visits by the above-mentioned curators was to recruite artists from Armenia and Bulgaria for further artistic and production residencies at the ‘Art Commune’ and ‘Art Today Association’ (Plovdiv).

The long-term collaborative project HEICO (2011-2012) was initiated by the Henrich Boell Foundation – Brandenburg with partner countries and art institutions from Armenia (ACSL, Yerevan), Bulgaria (Art Today Association and Center of Contemporary Art, Plovdiv), Slovakia (SPACES, Bratislava), Moldova (KCA:K, Chisinau), Germany (Rokunstbau, Potsdam). The goal of the program is to foster cross-border cultural exchange among art professionals through collaborative exhibitions in partner countries, residential exchanges of artists and curators, panel discussions, workshops, seminars, and conferences.

Jakob Racek (b.1981, Austria) studied media and culture and obtained a Master of Arts in 2006 at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. He received a DFG-research scholarship at the post graduate program ‘Mediale Historiographien’ in Weimar and a scholar ship from Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. As a curator he worked independently for several galleries and institutions in Germany and abroad, such as Kunsthalle Krems, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Architekturgalerie framework Berlin, Künstlerhaus Wien, State Center of Contemporary Art in Baden-Baden, etc. In 2003, he co-founded ‘showroom berlin’ as a platform for emerging artists in Berlin, as well as the group of urban interventions ‘Speed Investor. Schneller als die Stadt erlaubt’ (www.showroom-berlin.net). He has received the Robert Bosch fellowship for cultural managers in Southeast Europe and works as a curator for the Center for Contemporary Art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Jakob Rracek is the current program director and coordinator of the ‘Culture’ section in Central and Eastern Europe of the Goethe Foundation in Prague.

Emil Mirazchiev (b. in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, 1960) is an artist, curator, and the president of Art Today Association. He is also the initiator and founder of Center for Contemporary Art, Plovdiv (www.arttoday.org).

Education: Academy of Fine Art, Sofia, 1986

Member of the Union of Bulgarian Artists
Member of the ‘Edge’ art group
Member of the Association of Plovdiv Artists
He works in the fields of installations, video art, photography, lithography, handmade paper, objects.
More than 15 shows in Bulgaria and abroad.
Many international participations in triennials, biennials and representative exhibitions in Hungary, Holland, Greece, Poland, Canada, Great Britain, USA, Portugal, India, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Macedonia, Belgrade.

Prizes and grants:
2001 – Third International print triennial Sofia’01 – Prize for artist from Southeastern Europe;
1998 – Annual exhibition of the Association of Plovdiv Artists – First prize for graphic; 1997 – Exhibition ‘Art on a paper’, Sofia’97 – Prize for graphic; 1997 – 8th International print biennial, Varna’97 – Awarded by the Union of Bulgarian Artists and the Fund ‘Support of the Art in Bulgaria’; 1996 – Cite des’Arts, Paris – Studio, grant; 1996 – ARTEST – Foundation ‘Binz 39’, Zurich – Studio, grant; 1996 – National exhibition-competition ‘Music, Vision, Movement’, Rouse’96 – Second prize for graphic; 1995 – Annual exhibition of the Association of Plovdiv Artists – First prize for graphic; 1995 – First International print triennial Sofia’95 – Private prize from Hristo Gradechliev.

Curator and organizer:
2004 – Week of contemporary art ‘The Ideal’ – Center for contemporary art – Plovdiv, Ancient Bath; 2004 – ‘Art Positive’– contemporary art from Plovdiv authors – Center for contemporary art – Plovdiv, Ancient Bath; 2002 – Week of contemporary art. Ninth edition. Project REFLECTIONS – Center for Contemporary Art – Plovdiv, Ancient Bath; 2001 – ‘Communication front’ – electronic and media art and theory, Center for Contemporary Art – Plovdiv and media lab. ArtToday; 2001 – First Electronic Techno-Trance festival BG2001- International Fair – Plovdiv; 2000 – ‘Communication front’ – electronic and media art, Center for Contemporary Art – Plovdiv; 2000 – ‘Four of Edge’ exhibition at the Swiss Embassy Residence, Sofia; 1999 – International project ‘Communication front’ – Electronic Art, Center for Contemporary Art – Plovdiv; 1998 – International exhibition ‘VIDEO ART ‘98’ – Center for Contemporary Art – Plovdiv; 1995 – First edition of ‘Week of contemporary art’ – Center for Contemporary Art – Plovdiv. Author of the international project ‘Graphical Studio – Plovdiv’.
‘Edge’ art group – exhibitions & actions, performances, happenings, installations, photography, objects.