‘Bulgarian Artists Today’ is a long-term programme of the National Gallery, which explores the development and dynamic of phenomena and processes in Bulgarian art from the late 1980s to the present day. One of the highlights of the programme is the Dialogues module, presented in this edition by the founders of the Reaktiv group, Albena Baeva and René Beekman, artists with an original creative presence who are blazing new trails in our contemporary artistic life. They work in the field of experimental video, performance, theatre and interactive design. Through their innovative approaches, the two artists transform digital technologies into works of art.
It is difficult to define the main theme in their work. But one thing is certain: what they create, invades our perceptions, provokes with its multi-layered interpretation, rewarding us with the free play of the imagination and the sensation of trailblazing. We are transported into a world of new artistic techniques and provocative images.
Through some of the most emblematic projects of the two artists, we may follow their quests, reflections and results. What are the specifics and peculiarities of digital arts; how is interactive art generated by means of digital art?—these and many other questions will be answered during the discussion organised by the National Gallery.
Albena Baeva is an interdisciplinary artist working with digital technology. She has two Master’s degrees—Restoration (2008) and Digital Art (2010)—from the National Academy of Art in Sofia, where she specialised in technological practices in art from the 12th to the 21st century. In 2011, she was awarded the international Essl Art Award for contemporary art, and the Vienna Insurance Group Special Invitation. She is one of the founders of the Runabout project.
She has participated in group exhibitions, such as: Mardin Bienali (Turkey), 2018; Elysium, Noville, Berlin (Germany), 2017; WonderLab, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vojvodina, Novi Sad (Serbia), 2015; Essl Art Award CEE, Essl Museum (Austria), 2011. She has also held solo exhibitions, including ‘The Sheep, the Snake, the Bitch and Their Pig’, Credo Bonum Gallery, Sofia, 2017; ‘Landscapes and Nudes’, Project Space of ASU Art Museum (USA), 2016; ‘Archaeologies’, Vaska Emanouilova Gallery, Sofia, 2014; ‘What If’, Contemporary Space, Varna, 2014.
René Beekman graduated in Media Art from the AKI Academy of Art and Design in Enschede, the Netherlands. In Bulgaria, he is known to the public as the curator and one of the founders of the Digital Arts MA Programme at the National Academy of Arts, where he taught between 2008 and 2016. He was co-founder of the xfilm Festival and co-organiser and curator of the first two editions of the DA Festival in Sofia.
René Beekman curated the exhibitions ‘Hello World’ (Vaska Emanouilova Gallery, Sofia, 2012) and Being Post-Digital (2015, during Design Week 2015, Plovdiv).
In 2017, he established the Post-digital Laboratory at the Red House.
Albena Baeva and René Beekman jointly established the interactive design studio, Reaktiv; organised ‘Dorkbot Sofia’ and ‘Ignite Sofia’; and curated the exhibition, ‘Friendly Little Creatures’ (2016, Credo Bonum Gallery, Sofia; Contemporary Space, Varna, and U10, Belgrade).