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Baba Vasa's Cellar

Source: BFA
Baba Vasa's Cellar
an infraspecies exploration

Venue: Baba Vasa's Cellar
Marica 22 Street
Shabla, Bulgaria

Opening: 10.08.2012

Curator: Axel Stockburger


Søren Engsted (DK)
Karine Fauchard (FR)
Julie Gufler (DK)
Jane Heiss (DE)
Nicolas Jasmin (FR)
Dejan Kaludjerović (AUT/CS)
Barbara Kapusta (AUT)
Isabella Kohlhuber (AUT)
Lazar Lyutakov (BG)
Johannes Porsch (AUT)
Franz Schubert (AUT)
Signe Ross (NZ)

In 1970 the Belgian concept artist Marcel Broodthaers decided to conduct an interview
with a cat, asking numerous slightly esotheric questions about trends in the the art market and issues of aesthetics. Naturally the cat answered in her appropriate way, 
miaowing and purring after every question. Nearly thirty years later, the French Philosopher Jacques Derrida similarly positioned the encounter with a cat as an event signifying
the complex relationship between human and animal. Following a scene where his cat observes him stepping out of the shower he asks: "before the cat that looks at me naked, would I be ashamed like an animal that no longer has the sense of nudity? Or on the contrary, like a man who retains the sense of his nudity? Who am I therefore? Who is it that I am (following)? Whom should this be asked of if not of the other? And perhaps of the cat itself? (Jacques Derrida, 1997).

These two positions became the starting point for the exhibition humanimals - an infraspecies exploration, which showcases a range of international artists who approach the emergence of the dividing line between human and animal. In his book "the open" Giorgio Agamben traces the history of the philosophical operation aimed at bringing about what it means to be human, a process he calls "the anthropological machine". This process has seen many different stations, from Descartes
characterisation of animals as mechanical entities lacking a soul, over Jakob von Uexkülls declaration of a multitude of different parallel lifeworlds, towards Donna Haraway's notion of animals as "significant others". The artists in humanimals - an infraspecies exploration engage with this "anthropological machine" according to their respective practices, ranging from photography over painting, drawing, video and installation.


About the curator:

Axel Stockburger is an artist and theorist who lives and works in Vienna. He studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna with Peter Weibel and holds a PhD from the University of the Arts, London. His films and installations are shown internationally. Among other projects he has initiated the independent art television channel TIV in Vienna in 1998 and collaborated on international projects with the London based media art group D-Fuse (2000-2004). At present he works as scientific staff member at the Department for Visual Arts and Digital Media / Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

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Founded in 2002, «Baba Vasa's cellar» is a non-commercial space for contemporary art, located in Shabla, a town in Northern Bulgaria with  4500 inhabitans. The 10 square meters of exhibition space are situated in the cellar of an old house and follow the architectonic principles of the white cube. «Baba Vasa's cellar» exists due to the hospitality of an 82 years old woman and the entusiasm of a permanently growing group of artists from different nationalities. During its first 10 years of existence the Cellar presented works of over 30 artists and the yearly  openings are supported by a garden party with DJ line.
«Baba Vasa's Cellar» is not trying to be what it is not and doesn't pretend of importance. The smallest space in a small provincial town in a small country searches for its public in the first place among the local people, speaks in dialect, works with tiny budget, improvises and enjoys the nature. The Cellar finds its satisfaction mainly in the pleasure of creating and amusing, not forgeting about the responsability of contributing in someones development and decentralising the still unshaped scene for contemporary art in the country.