Sofia – world capital of paper art

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The 8th edition of the Sofia Paper Art Fest has started at the National Palace of Culture with two exhibitions. At the same time the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists IAPMA will have its own congress here alongside the festival.

For the time being such an event is held in Bulgaria only, making ‘guest tours’ with exhibitions in other countries as well. Daniela Todorova, a curator of the festival tells more on the idea’s birth. Years ago art paper exhibitions used to be only occasional and quite small. Daniela and her husband Todor Todorov decided to organize a somewhat larger event and the success that followed was unexpectedly huge. “At first we would explain what that was and people asked us if it was some garbage stuff,” Daniela says. “Now they see the great potential of this art, attracting numerous authors who are directly related to it. However, its language expresses certain ideas and concepts.”

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This year the Sofia Paper Art Fest is devoted to the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU – hence its unveiling at the National Palace of Culture with a large-scale exposition. “We have displayed there a more representative part of the festival with Bulgaria being its main focus – its contribution to the world, its current situation and future intentions. That is why the exposition is named Past, Present, Future.”

A total of 35 countries have been presented in the festival’s editions so far, while this year artists from 43 countries are expected to attend the event. IAPMA is about to gather 250 of its members at the May congress. The program envisages lectures and workshops and exhibitions are organized at many of the prestigious Sofia galleries up until June 16th. The festival already had a preliminary premiere in Finland on April 5th, while the events across other countries will continue till November.

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One of the ambitious goals of the festival and its avatars abroad is to present Bulgaria and its cultural heritage in a contemporary language. Serious experience has already been gathered in that direction. The works themselves are often inspired by different historic periods, places and artifacts. There are usually digital products presented in the expositions – movies and presentations. Those are usually in English and Japanese. Portugal subtitles have being prepared for this edition.

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“Whenever something comes from the museum, people do not dare to communicate with it so directly. At the same time contemporary art is somehow more communicative, more challenging, inviting the spectator to get into some relation. Usually we accompany the expositions with lectures and presentations, thus turning Bulgaria into a big friend to numerous people, who have never even heard of this country,” Daniela Todorova says.

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More facts on the paper art festival: It is organized by the Amateras Foundation. The Sofia Municipality is one of the major partners, since PAPER ART FEST is part of the capital’s cultural calendar and the municipality has been a supporting organization ever since its establishment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs participates in the preparation of the events abroad with its cultural institutes and the embassies in Finland, Kosovo, Japan, Israel, Brazil. Exhibitions are also envisaged for the Republic of Korea, Morocco and China. IAPMA is also a major partner this year, alongside a series of private companies and media partners. “I would say that the festival is accepted with love and understanding. Of course, there are always something lacking, but that is not the main thing. The main point is that all this is actually happening, people are happy and there is a big reflection everywhere,” Daniela Todorova concludes.

English version: Zhivko Stanchev 

Photos: private library

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