Block Universe brings together a new wave of cutting-edge performance art at the cross-section of contemporary visual art, dance and music across London. The Outset x Block Universe Commission will support the production and presentation of a new performance by artist GERY GEORGIEVA (b. 1986, Varna, Bulgaria) for this exciting festival.
Gery Georgieva, known for her performative self-presentational works interwoven with elements of folklore, pop, tradition and kitsch, has been commissioned to produce a new performance, At The Source to debut during the fourth edition of Block Universe (2018) at Oval Space, East London. For this unique project, Georgieva’s largest to date, the artists continues her relationship to body and identity politics through musical collaboration at the intersection of pop and folk.
This new commission is presented as a performance within an immersive installation. Oval Space is transformed into a space suggestive of something between an ethnographic museum and a national embassy using heavy fabrics as well acoustic panels made of raw sheeps’ wool and domestic textiles. Coloured lighting dresses the space and a single video projection screen provides subtitles and moving images at various moments throughout the performance. The artist appears clothed in an elaborate sculptural costume resembling a traditional ceremonial dress: a bricolage of hand-made elements and glamorous fabrics combined with everyday materials, topped off with a spectacular cascading headdress. Georgieva appears almost as an object on ethnographic display on a rotating stage and sings a melancholic lament, adapted from her time in a Bulgarian folk singing masterclass. As the set progresses, elements of the costume are removed by other performers who place them on museum like display stands.
The work’s music is the result of a collaboration with producers Endgame and Patchfinder, as well as featuring the artist’s own versions of anglophone songs which are translated into Bulgarian and rely on words understood in both languages. The songs underline and question the norms of capitalist aspiration and cultural belonging. The show descends via Bulgarian pop karaoke into a nightclub style performance ending in riotous dancing that combines belly dance, contemporary dance and music video choreography.
The work examines folk, local or provincial culture, its ‘purity’ and its relationship to nationalism when considered within the influence of a more commercialised, neo-liberal and individualistic sense of culture and pursuit of collectivity. The artist uses her own body as a sight for these considerations and reconfigurations. Expanding on an arc from melancholy to euphoria, the idea of the work is to occupy several stylistic references whilst embodying them to the full, leaving the viewer to question the authenticity of the performer while not being able to deny its wholehearted engagement.
In 2018, Block Universe explored themes that act as a counterpoint to the current divisiveness created by contemporary politics, focusing on and critically questioning utopian ideals of community and collectivity.
Read ‘The Dance of the Diva’, by Philomena Epps here.