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"The Running Ones" – lets see the world with open eyes

Photo: plakatkombinat.com

Twenty original posters and 10 experimental films by 14 graphic artists united in one cultural project return the focus of society to the existence and the problems of "The Running Ones". The artistic provocation of our moral values and emotional perceptions is the work of poster art platform Plakatkombinat.com and is a symbiosis between art and personal narratives of people fleeing terror, war, political repression and persecution.

The beginning was given at the end of November with the opening of a poster exhibition and screening of art films in the "House of Cinema" in Sofia. Those present had the opportunity to see documentary interviews with refugees from Ukraine and Russia in Bulgaria. The film is the work of Daniel Nenchev and Krasimir Stoichkov. It was the starting point for the artists who took part in the project.

"Most authors interpreted the topic specifically in relation to the refugee crisis, but there are also some posters that deal with the topic a little more broadly, more philosophically. The project was formed with the idea of using new media - video art, hybrid forms of animation." art critic Anna Simeonova, producer and curator of "The Running Ones", has told BNR.

Nikolay Nachev and Anna Simeonova

"The art is reactionary. I would call it a reaction to what we all know is happening right now. That reality is the war in Ukraine. We started working on this project over a year ago. We decided it was time to create socially engaged art with the artists at PlakatKombinat. We have been working for ten years now, as a group - leading graphic artists, poster artists, united in this platform and we decided that now we have to react to this very serious event and the wave of refugees that we saw in Bulgaria was an occasion to think," the art critic says.

In Bulgaria, there is a very serious problem with fake news and the way we perceive and talk about Vladimir Putin's regime, Anna Simeonova adds. Therefore, an important element of "The Running Ones" is the "Arrest/Reward" action of journalist Daniel Nenchev, with focus on Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev who is also a running man. We recall that just a few months after the film "Navalny", which Grozev is also a part of, won an Oscar for a documentary film and the world saw the story of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on the big screen, a Moscow district court ordered the arrest in absentia of Bellingcat investigative journalist Christo Grozev. The court accuses Grozev of illegally crossing the border and of facilitating the escape of Roman Dobrokhotov, editor of news outlet The Insider, whom Russian authorities label as a "foreign agent".

"This story is not just a global scandal and a global problem, it is also our personal one. It is a basis of discord in Bulgarian society and it is related to the kind of country and the kind of world we want to live in. And this is the big a question that we need to answer as society. The art action related to Christo Grozev is another reason to talk about this topic," Daniel Nenchev tells BNR. As part of the action, posters with the face of Christo Grozev were placed in various places in the Bulgarian capital, including the Monument to the Soviet Army.

"The image on the poster looks like a smartphone display, and you can use the red handset to ‘arrest’ Hristo Grozev, or use the green handset to ‘reward’ him. Viewers of the poster can tear off a piece of paper with the inscription ‘Arrest’ or ‘Reward’. I watched people’s reactions. In an urban environment, the result was 50:50, as the pieces of paper ran out very quickly," Daniel Nenchev told Irina Nedeva from the "Horizon" program of the BNR. At the opening of the exhibition in Sofia this Sunday Christo Grozev was unanimously "rewarded" by the visitors.

With the displacement of the topic of the refugees from the war in Ukraine from the news flow, our society seems to have forgotten about their problems, our colleague says. But this tragedy continues, and it is art that can bring back or create empathy where it is vitally important. Personal responsibility and a moral compass when making a choice is also part of the philosophy of graphic artist Nikolay Nachev - one of the authors in the exhibition.

"In my film, one can see the wheel of peace and war, rotating cyclically in time. Its direction depends on us, Nikolay Nachev says.

The exhibition "The Running Ones" can be seen until December 26 in the "House of the Cinema" in Sofia and in order to "pick up" or "hang up" Christo Grozev's phone, you have to walk around the capital city with your eyes wide open.

Text: Vesela Krasteva / based on interviews by Irina Nedeva, BNR-"Horizont"

English publication: Al. Markov

Photos: plakatkombinat.com, Lora Tarkoleva

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