The Museum – Cause of Meeting and Acquaintance

1997, video

VHS, Pal, 4:3, sound, 21'09'' (loop). Digitally re-mastered in 2001. Exhibition copy on DVD. Edition of 3 + AP

Fragments, 3'19''

The video presents the short story of the unknown girl and boy in the space of a classic museum (The National Art Gallery in Sofia). The two meet during a tiresome walk around its empty halls, become acquainted amidst the chrestomatic works of Bulgarian art, have quick sex in the narrow toilet of the museum, and part in front of its stately entrance.

The scrutinizing eye of the camera, the precisely centered composition of each frame, the spatial sequence, remaining undisturbed almost to the end, the weighed dynamics of cutting, and that sound, detaching from reality, “mechanical”, form up a growing suspense. The intimate scene, quite delicate by today's standards, satisfies only partially the viewers' expectation about the culmination of the narrative, and after the end of the video, questions – about the museum – are there in want of an answer.

The author of the video resorts to the "mockumentary" technique, the pseudo-documentary film-making, by directing the clash between “the elevated” and the “base” – the traditional museum, and casual sex. The opposition evolves in the minds of the viewers: culture and nature, old and new, cold and warm, inanimate and alive.

Radical institutional criticism carries a touch of nostalgia. The museum, the total storage in linear history (of art) is underlying for cultural memory. In our Bulgarian reality, though, the museum has forgotten its being part of the living organism of the society, and while functioning as a minute part in the mechanism of political representation, it is reduced to an unpopular realty, to the "place". In the highly competitive "society with affinity to spectacle", this is insufficient for anything other than "meeting and acquaintance".

Iara Boubnova

Video Stills