Nedko Solakov

Bulgarian artist Nedko Solakov (°1957) is one of the main protagonists of contemporary European art. His work combines a ‘classical’ artistic education with conceptual elements and a strong sense for the absurd. His funny and often touching visual art is the result of great fantasy and humour, which has kept him safe from the communist regime in his country of origin. Solakov’s work includes paintings, drawings, installations, videos, texts and performances, in which he likes to play with diverse references to the history of art.

Encyclopaedia Utopia

mixed media
three-channel video installation, headphones, 31′40′′, 26′46′′, 25′56′′
Commissioned and produced by CONTOUR 7

In this new video installation commissioned by CONTOUR 7, Nedko Solakov browses through the pages of his own Encyclopaedia Utopia, which he made in 1990 shortly after the fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. In the three videos, corresponding to the three volumes of the original encyclopaedia, the artist reflects on his own work twenty-five years after completing it. Solakov lists and reads all entries aloud while holding a camera in his hands, providing commentary on his own work and the ideas that inspired him at the time. The three books, compromising variously sized drawings, texts and photographs, are exhibited in front of the corresponding videos. In the books, Thomas More’s ideal island merges with the equally utopian experiment of communism in Bulgaria. Oscillating between a bitter ironic, funny, vulgar or naively pedagogical tone, the encyclopaedia becomes an occasion to irreverently mock both the literary and the actual version of the consummate society. Between the numerous drawings of imaginary creatures and eerie monsters, Solakov included rules and guidelines for a ‘happy and harmonious’ collective life.