2019. the Eastern Question
The Eastern Question is a geopolitical term from the 18th-20th century, related to the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the parallel processes of the struggle for dominance between Russia and the Great powers.
The Eastern Question in art, however, is an actual case. As much as art history is western-centred, its development during the whole 20th century until today is based on West-European sensitivity and conceptual apparatus, whereas to the East and Eastern art scenes and artistic understandings in the broader sense are given the role of catching up and the status of a periphery. It is enough to mention, that G.Hegel in his monumental Aesthetics from the beginning of 19th century gives a negative opinion to Byzantine art and to a great extent doesn’t admit the qualities of art coming from the East. And thus, already 200 years of artists, whose art relies on the world-view of the Еastern cultures (of Еastern mentality, if you will), are given а more or less subordinate, secondary role.
It is essential to mention, that this situation problematizes in a dramatic manner even the adoption of new artistic kinds, that emerge in the West. And performance is one of those artistic expressions, simply because the way of thinking of artists from the West and East is different.
The Eastern Question project invites artists to reflect the topic: what do concepts like artistic action, artistic gesture and socially engaged art represent when they find themselves in the context of societies dominated by Eastern and East-European views according to societal structure and culture.
This thematic frame for the festival was written by its founder Ruen Ruenov in June 2011. It is dedicated to his memory, reminding about the perpetual quest.
The festival evolves on two main planes:
✖ Higher Ground – educational part – a post-theoretic conference focused on contemporary forms of public art. We accept suggestions for lectures, workshops, artist talks, project presentations and other forms of cultural exchange.
✖ Underground – performance part – traditionally, a long run happening around and under the National Palace of Culture, but also in public spaces in the city of Sofia, accompanied by a public screening program of video works, documentaries, art films and a party.