23rd International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, Gabrovo 2017
Contemporary art
/May 19 - September 30, 2017, Stefan Fartunov Room/

The new section this year - Contemporary art - marks a further development of the International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, breaking the traditional structure of genres and art media accepted so far. Thus the organizers of the competition offered a broad front for artists to enter works of art executed in any technique and media like painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, drawing, poster, installation, video and others. Statistically, this novelty had an effect on the number of "newcomers" to the Gabrovo Biennial which has been non-stop held since 1973. These are 361 artists out of a total of 813 entrants who have submitted works to Biennial 2017.

To be shown in the competition exhibition of Contemporary art, the international jury selected 77 works of art by 66 artists from 29 countries. The variety of styles, technique and media used is striking.

The prizewinners in section Contemporary art will be announced at the formal opening and awards ceremony of the 23rd International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, Gabrovo 2017 on 19th May.

23rd International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, Gabrovo 2017
/May 19 - September 30, 2017, Room 5/

The exhibition features the selected works in section Cartoons of the 23rd International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, Gabrovo 2017 on the theme of Laughing in the Face of... . For the competition programme of the Biennial, which comprises two sections - cartoons and contemporary art - there were submitted a total of 1,277 works by 724 artists from 69 countries. The number of the submitted cartoons is 464. Out of them the international jury selected to be shown in the exhibition 106 cartoons by 86 artists from 37 countries. It should be underlined that this year's Cartoons section includes two new categories - animated cartoons and printed cartoon publications. The international jury made the decision that all works entered in these two categories should be displayed in the exhibition.

The prize-winning artists in section Cartoons of the 23rd International Biennial will be announced in public at the awards ceremony on 19th May 2017.

23rd International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, Gabrovo 2017
To Die out Laughing - exhibition curated by Marko Stamenkovic (Serbia)
/May 19 - September 30, 2017, Room 6/

The exhibition To Die out Laughing is the first curated themed exhibition included within the framework of the International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art since its first edition. A superficial reading of the title may turn out misleading to those who tend to identify laughter with a distorted mirror hall. Therefore, it is worth underscoring the overall idea of the curator Marko Stamenkovic from Serbia. It is an attempt to present presumably incongruous and opposite things or circumstances united in one picture (assemblage) that stirs rather different perceptions with the viewers. The exhibition, which shows 31 works by 27 artists from 19 countriеs, deals exactly with historically and culturally diverse interactions between as contrast phenomena as humour and death. Humor here is understood as a tool for acquiring knowledge, not only for gaining or expressing pleasure. It is able to turn common sense upside down and, in accordance with the inversion of rationality, to teach us a new ‘lesson in difference’ about humanity as a complex system of thoughts, beliefs, rituals and ways of life.

Who is Marko Stamenkovic? Born and raised in the south of Serbia, Marko Stamenkovic (1977) is an art historian whose interests revolve around the political rationality of image-making and visual communication in the global context. Over the last decade, he has been working primarily in the field of contemporary visual arts as a curator, critic, writer, and lecturer focused on the intersection of visual thinking with social theories, political philosophies, and cultural practices of the oppressed.

Whatever perceptions and feelings this unusual exhibition might arouse with the viewers, one thing is posititve - it won't leave them cold.

23rd International Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, Gabrovo 2017
Paintings and Drawings from the Studio of Nikolay Angelov-GARI - solo exhibition
/May 19 - September 30, 2017, Room 7/

Nikolay Angelov-GARI is the winner of the Golden Aesop Grand Prix at the 22nd International Biennial of Humour and Satire in the Arts - 2015, while the present exhibition is part of the prize as stipulated in the conditions of entry two years ago.

Born in Burgas (Bulgaria), Nikolay Angelov continues living and working in his native city. Though he majored in sculpture from the St.Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo, he has been lastingly infatuated with painting. Angelov is a member of the Burgas Artists Association and the Bulgarian Iconography Society. He has had 12 solo exhibitions and has participated in more than 40 general exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad. Another part of his work is dedicated to designing and icon-painting the chapel of St. Panteleymon in the town of Karlovo; the chapel of St. Archangel Michael in Sopot; the church of the Nativity of Our Lady in Bratovo village and he church of the Virgin Mary in the town of Sredets.

Nikolay Angelov's present exhibition features eight paintings and four drawings. Far from the current trends in visual art today, each of Gari's pictures encapsulates an experience. The themes he works on are the family, goodness and love. What interests him is the inner life of his characters. Angelov seeks the pathways to all-embracing and multi-faceted love that he loves portraying in his works. The artist says that his creative pursuits start from the art of ancient Egypt and the Babylon story in the Bible only to cristalize in the image of the icon suggestive of sainliness.

A Factory for Humour and Satire
Exhibition on the history of the building of the Museum House of Humour and Satire
/March 31 - September 30, 2017, Room 7/

The exhibition A Factory for Humour and Satire explores the history of the building of the House of Humour and Satire; it is a story the beginning of which can be traced back to as early as 1891 when the Brothers Kalpazanov set up a leather factory. In 1975, that factory turned into a 'home' for the House of Humour and Satire.

ТThe trend to convert old industrial buildings into modern art space began at the time when industrial production slackened the pace of development, and artists and cultural organizations took over the closed and deserted factory buildings. The beginning of this process can be refrerred to the 1970s in the USA and Canada; later on, a number of European cities followed suit. One of the most recognizable cases of similar conversion if the Tate Modern Museum housed in the building of an old power station in London.

For the first time in Bulgaria and in the Balkans as well, this happened in Gabrovo, the town of pioneer industrialists. The House of Humour and Satire found 'shelter' as a result of the reconstruction, reorganization, superstructure and extension of a former leather factiry.

What was the original idea conceived by the House's first director Stefan Fartunov and Karl Kandulkov, architect and designer of the bulding? What were the stages of developing the architectural design, the construction and the reorganization of the bulding? What curious facts, difficulties and polemics accompanied them? How does a transformation of a building over different socio-economic and political periods hppen? What should a conversion preserve and what should it change? Do the art galleries and museums designed in the years of socialism meet their functional needs tofay? These are only some of the questions the exhibition raises and attempts to partly answer.

Besides photographs, plans and documents, the exhibition shows an installation of some impressive for the time technological devices used in the 1970s and 1980s like cameras, tape-recorders, projectors, computers and light controllers. The technological devices were an integral part of the House's activities and their functioning was laid down as early as work on the design and the construction of the bulding began. This is featured in the first part of the exhibition.

It will be difficult for young people to imagine today that the foundation of the House of Humour and Satire in Gabrovo coincided with the time when the first personal computers with a monitor appeared up for sale in the world. And though the Museum at present has the look of a typical gallery, it was conceived to have the structure and functions of a contemporary museum. An Experimental Satirical Variety Theatre was set up to it making use of innovative for the time multimedia devices and a fully equipped TV and sound-recording studio. Thus, for instance, the stage of the Variety Theatre had a General Electric multimedia rear projector which allowed the production of shows with integrated video screenings. A system of dia-projectors with controllers and programming was used for projections on a screen or of interior parts of gradually animated images. The sound-recording studio made possible the producing of music performances; the TV studio facilitated the editing of video productions of the Variety Theatre in order to broadcast them on TV.

Based on the research work of architect Tsvetomir Tsenkov and a team from the House of Humour and Satire, A Factory for Humour and Satire celebrates the 45th anniversary of the foundation of the institution. The research makes a unique document itself being a historic, urbanistic, architectural, interior design and construction exploration of the processes, the project stakeholders and the documentation of a project on the conversion of an industrial building into a cultural site. It is done for the first time in Bulgaria.

The research and the exhibition make use of materials from the archives of the Museum House of Humour and Satire; Gabrovo Regional History Museum; the State Archives in Gabrovo; the Institute for Ethnography and Folklore to the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, as well as from the private archives of Yordanka and Orlin Kandulkov, Hristina Kamenova and Georgi Genev.

The exhibition A Factory for Humour and Satire is realized with the financial support of America for Bulgaria Foundation.