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Mausoleum Shop

Mausoleum Stop, video still

Single-channel HD video, 2:05 min. loop, 2011

The video “Mausoleum Stop” addresses issues related to collective memory in Bulgaria, monumental architecture as an element of that memory, and the public space. Viewers witness the erection of a large-scale building structure on Battenberg Square in Sofia at the empty location of the former mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov.* The effect is achieved with the help of a digitally assembled giant scaffolding imprinted with the image of that controversial building in 1:1 scale. Composited street vignettes complete the illusion: the new construction is now a touristic destination. The formal strategy of this work is to borrow from outdoor advertising and restoration techniques, whereby a building is wrapped by a large-scale image. Advertising shows a tendency to take over a public space while completely covering its undesirable or decaying buildings. Thus the surrounding images form a temporary two-dimensional architecture that at once obliterates the real architecture, creates a feeling of hyper-reality and becomes a monument to capital. The project “Mausoleum Stop” works on a similar hyper-real level, but aims to reverse the above effect, while bringing to light an erased layer of history and creating debate: Is this building a real possibility and, if executed, how would it be perceived by the society? What does the new image on the scaffolding promise us: a memorial, a museum or a shopping mall? What are the signs of the current times and their monuments? Does an image have the power to manipulate history and create a new collective memory?

“Mausoleum Stop” was awarded with the M-Tel Price for Contemporary Bulgarian Art in 2011 as part of the project “Unlimited”, curated by Irina Batkova.

*The mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov was built in 1949 and destroyed by the temporary government of Ivan Kostov in 1999, soon after the fail of the Communist government of Bulgaria. Today one can see only a deserted space with no reference to the past. This location is often used for commercial events, and is surrounded by a parking lot, which takes over what used to be the public square.