Exhibition and documentary by Misirkov/Bogdanov

6/10/2022 - 23/12/2022

Opening on Thursday, 6 October, 6 p.m.

Screenings of the film at 2 and 4 p.m. (94 min., with English and Bulgarian subtitles)

This exhibition and the accompanying eponymous documentary do not relate the history of automotive manufacturing in Socialist countries, nor are they retrospective in character. With their inherent sense of humour, unique visual language and obvious love for cars, Boris Missirkov and Georgi Bogdanov explore the phenomenon of sotz cars in Europe and their present owners. These cars appear in museum expositions or in private collections, or we may even see them being driven along the streets of major European cities.

Through the rich palette of images of their owners, united in their common passion for the Socialist car, past and present intertwine, complement and contrast across five distinct themes of the exhibition narrative. In the ‘Introduction’, we are greeted by Ronald Reagan’s holographic projection, accompanied by a composition of 80 model cars and a stele made of pressed tin sheets and parts from Socialist cars. ‘Slices of the Past’ are panels in the signature colours of the era with automotive paint combined with silver photo prints on transparent film accompanied by clippings from black-and-white negatives of old driving textbooks. ‘Phantasms’ is an installation of photos from the Instagram profiles of lady owners of sotz car marques in modern Russia. ‘Time Capsules’ is a series of portraits and personal stories of Bulgarian owners of Socialist cars, while ‘Epilogue’ concludes the narrative with an installation of five video portraits of the characters from the eponymous film and moving text.

Cars are an expression of the individuality of their owners, who breathe new life into them and preserve their history in our contemporary times, marked as they are by the highest technological achievements and innovative spirit. The theme of Socialist heritage is a leitmotif present throughout the work of the two artists. ‘The Cars We Drove to Capitalism’ is a form of exploration of our historical legacy of that epoch, a gauge of technological and scientific capacity. In the context of this polemics, several topics for reflection are sparked off: how valuable is our heritage; to what extent is it the reflection of a bygone reality; is there nostalgia for it?

Boris Missirkov (b. 1971) and Georgi Bogdanov (b. 1971) graduated concurrently from the National School for Ancient Languages and Cultures (1990), the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts (1996) and the FABRICA Research Centre, Italy (1998). They work in the visual and audiovisual arts and were the co-founders of the Bulgarian Photographic Association and founders of the AGITPROP Production Company. Cinematographers of some of the most awarded new Bulgarian documentaries: ‘Georgi and the Butterflies’ (2004), ‘The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories’ (2007), ‘Corridor No. 8’ (2008), ‘Simon Versus Fear (The Varsano Case)’ (2017). Writers of visual campaigns, video clips, shorts, feature films and documentaries, their works include: ‘The Ladino Ladies’ Club’ (2015), ‘Palace for the People’ (2018), ‘The Sweetest Thing’ (2019).