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Made In, video still, 2004-2005

Single-channel video, 7 min., 2004-2005

In this video I took a portable blue screen to a public square in Sofia, Bulgaria and keyed (a process of “hole cutting”, or subtracting part of the picture) an image of it by using the seamless effect of the blue screen. The image represented my background is later transformed to a dress and became a subject of intense debate with my Bulgarian friend. Shot in Bulgaria but edited in US, Made In video explores communication between distant places and different realities. It presents two points of view of the same subject and reveals the distortions of meaning resulting from the differing contexts of the viewers. It also draws a picture of a world with a limited choice of politics. A choice between a nationalistic ideology growing in a small post-communist country, and an Imperialistic one emerging from the world’s largest economy.This video is not finished. I stopped working on it at the moment I received a letter from my friend Boryana, who is a Bulgarian artist. She has seen the work and wrote back to me:

Hi Dani,

Yes, I saw your video. But I like the first one better because it has a stronger sense of rhythm. In this one the cathedral, Alexander Nevski, has too much presence and implies Pan-Bulgarian and Pan-Orthodox ideas. Maybe you didn’t have it in mind when you shot it, but the Orthodox Church, especially so opulent, is making me think about those sorts of things. However, it is cool that Galia (the clothing designer) is cutting the cloth. Maybe you should cut the blue screen in to small parts in some of your videos.

I told Boriana about the title of the video and the tag I wanted to add to the dress “Made in Bulgaria” in order to point to the unclear meaning/value of the commercial and cultural products exported out of the country.

She wrote:

The cathedral Alexander Nevski has too much presence in this video. I don’t think that the meaning is unclear but it is not right. I don’t think that you wanted to present the Bulgarian Orthodox state idea. But this is the direction you are going towards.

More than this, the cathedral Alexander Nevski was built as a symbol of homage and love to Russia for being Bulgaria’s liberator and is also related to the Russian-Turk War (very important for Europe) and was made by Russian architects and painted by Murkvichka. It is next to the Parliament, in front of the oldest Saint Sofia Church, the Bulgarian Sinod (Higher Church Administration) and the monument of Tsar Liberator. Maybe you should use another image to imply “Bulgarian” which doesn’t represent the State so much. Maybe in the West people don’t know what Alexander Nevski is and so for them it is simply exotic. And I think your work as an artist is becoming limited by the target group, which is making it useful only in the context of particular public. Maybe I’m not right, and probably I’m not if the things are looked at from another perspective.

Boriana’s next answer is in response to an idea I had to make another dress with a symbol as McDonalds logo, printed on it to represent American “stable” products, culture and values, imported in countries like Bulgaria.

I don’t know Dani what do you want to tell people with this video: that in Bulgaria we have one stable historic building, symbol of our nationalism and in America they have McDonalds, which is a symbol of their Imperialism? And you are leaving your small nationalistic country and becoming part of the world Imperia, that is colonizing your country as well.

Which of these two is better:

– to worship Slavi Trifonov(a famous BG TV star), and Volen Siderov (leader of the biggest Nationalist movement), dressed in black leather suites, republishing Hitler’s “Mein Kamppf” and screaming “Ethnic Cleansing”

– or Bush who is having barbeque in his back yard while throwing out the bones in Iraq?

Or are they both bad? What exactly? Maybe you just have to forget all I’m telling you. I don’t know.