Café Chalupecký: Viktoria Draganova

Café Chalupecký: Viktoria Draganova

Viktoria Draganova: Towards agency of project spaces

The lecture will address several issues of practical, theoretical and visionary matter related to project spaces, mainly through the prism of Swimming Pool, an independent art project space Viktoria Draganova founded in Sofia in 2014.

What is the role project spaces play today within the art economy? More broadly asked: What are the institutions our societies need today as well as what type of institutions art is urging for? What are, after all, our curatorial responsibilities? Within the lecture several points will be raised: While project spaces inhabit an opaque field of DIY, irregularity, subjectivity and desire, they are still public, civic spaces; spaces of commonness. Such a hybrid structure is interesting to be discussed in terms of institutional critique: on the one hand, from the backdrop of its specificity in Eastern Europe; on the other, in relation to new models of institutionalism as "slow institutions“, “institutions in retreat“, „fleeting institutions”, “fantastic institutions”, “institutions of care”. Such models have been recently proposed in order to better shape strategies to cope with the problematics of late-capitalist and neo-liberal modes of contemporary art production. In this lecture, such models will be examined from the perspective of how they structure presence, a central category for institutions that has been fundamentally influenced and transformed through new social media. Can we think of project spaces as both epistemic and social structures to define presence anew, a highly contested topos when related to the demands of the art world for immediacy, constant production and performativity? A proposal in this direction could be Swimming Pool’s interest towards educational practices, more broadly towards a better understanding of what we think we know, what we may know, and, most importantly, what we already know. While this could be regarded as a specific response towards the cultural context in Sofia, the lecture is meant as an invitation to discuss further possibilities and examples of agency of project spaces in different geographies.

Swimming Pool is a non-profit art project space in Sofia focused on artist and curatorial research, collaborative approaches, experimental art education and art politics. It is located on a central rooftop with an empty pool built in the 1930’s. 

Viktoria Draganova is a curator and writer living between Frankfurt am Main and Sofia. In 2014, she founded Swimming Pool, a non-profit project space in Sofia focused on artistic and curatorial research, collaborative approaches, art education and art community politics. Her personal research relates to poetic institutions, politics of truth, the potentials of the imaginary and the south-east. Outside Swimming Pool, she has worked with Städel Museum and Schirn Kunsthalle (both Frankfurt am Main) and curated projects at David Dale Gallery, Glasgow and Art in General, New York. Viktoria writes for research publications, artists’ catalogues and art magazines, her texts have appeared in Badland, Echo Gone Wrong, Flash Art International, Frieze, Mousse magazine and СВЕМА. Viktoria has studied law and holds a degree in law and PhD in legal history.