Daniela Kostova, MFA 2005, new video work

Daniela Kostova, MFA 2005, new video work

Date posted: 2006-11-20 16:32:00


 Here's another REVIEW of this work: http://www.undressmerobot.com/umr1164516101-showfull-default.html


Two stories follow:

by Katia Anguelova

Body Without Organs: Bulgarian Bar is a new video-documentary by Daniela Kostova that was presented in Tirana, Albania (1). 

The title of the work borrows the concept "body without organs" from Gilles Deleuze. The expression "le corps sans organs" can seem obscure, but its definition is quite clear. It means conceptualizing the body without reducing it to an organic form, not a body without organs, but instead a body on the road to differentiation. A body without organs is therefore an in-organic life, therefore bearing the power of individualization that has not yet become organism. 

I began the reflection on Daniela Kostova's work with this slightly theoretical specification to say that the change of context gives the body another means through which to feel, a new frontier of identity. 

Dancing (in the Bulgarian Bar) entails an overcoming of the usual functions of the body, whose organic unity is overcome by new possibilities of meaning provided by the orgasmic fusion with the music (2). 

Deleuze and Guattari affirm that "A body without organs, the unproductive, the inconsumable, serves as a surface for recording the entire production process of desire", and it's within this framework that Daniela Kostova's video-documentary was conceived, a documentary that reflects on immigrants, Roma, Bulgarians, Americans and travelers, whose experience is a sort of non-permanence. 

Inspired by ethno-mesh and gypsy punk music of the New York music scene, the video discovers the Bulgarian Bar through the eyes of a recent immigrant. 

Bulgarian Bar is not a "cultural center" as is ironically stated on the board at the entrance, but rather a cultural imaginary and an area of convergence of opposing trends: on one hand the institutional representation of the idea of identity with the National Cultural Center and on the other the essence of the nomad spirit expressed through the gypsy-punk music. 

The theme of the immigrant is confronted as a hybrid of cultures that the immigrant encounters with his nomadic spirit and his mobility, provoked not only by economic need, but also by a sort of "migratory instinct" that asks one to change locations, habits, partners and to express the different facets of one's own personality (3). 

Experience in the Bulgarian Bar becomes an anthropological metaphor that shows that culture is plural. The work of Daniela Kostova becomes the search of one's self in the human community where spiritual values are the consequence of collective adventures. (Not by mistake dj Boro says regarding gypsy music – "the gypsy idea works very well, because they don't have a state. They are continuously nomadic").

The project uses the ethnographic method of participant observation and it isn't chance that Daniela Kostova decided to finish her work with dj Joro-Boro's words who with popular simplicity clarifies: "There is an idea behind it but the idea is not a conceptual idea, it is an idea of body, it's the way your body takes you. So it doesn't matter what your nation is, what your class is, your age, race, sex, etc., it matters how you feel towards the music and if you feel like a spectator or like bringing some categories to it then you can't really fully participate in it until you start getting it and its just a matter of time. For this you have to go several times if you don't get it from the first time… and drinking helps a lot". Finally, the party and the encounter depend on the people and their chances of forgetting their identity.


(1) 1.60insurgent space/July exhibition/ artist: Daniela Kostova/ invited curator: Katia Anguelova

(2) It is not by mistake that Antonin Artaud from which Deleuze also borrows the concept of a body without organs, says in 1947 in the broadcast "Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu" ("To put an end to god' judgment"): And bind me if you like, but there is nothing more useless than an organ. When you'll have made him a body without any organs, you will have then liberated him from all automatisms and rendered him authentically free. Then you will teach him once again to dance in reverse like in the frenzy of the dance-halls and the reverse will be his authentic place.

(3) On this question see Michel Maffesoli, Du nomadisme. Vagabondages iniciatiques, Librairie générale francaise, 1997, Paris.




by Andrew McKeon, The Pittsburgh City Paper

On Jan. 1, Bulgaria will join the EU, becoming part of an international community with shared interests. Yet its music has already found such a community -- in the Bulgarian Bar.

Patrons and performers mix cultures at this New York club, because politics forgot its dancing shoes. For video artist Daniela Kostova, this phenomenon means much more than just the same old American melting-pot metaphor: It means reinterpreting her native Bulgaria as a cultural crossroads.

Rooted in the immigrant experience, Kostova's documentary Body Without Organs: Bulgarian Bar digs into the burgeoning ethno-mesh music scene to understand the negotiation of place among the displaced. She examines the Bulgarian Bar as a sort of "cultural imaginary" where music transcends ethnic identity. People lose themselves to find each other, dancing to a cross-section of Balkan folk music, gypsy-punk and world-beat.

"I want to think about it as a dialogue," Kostova says via e-mail from New York. "It is a little utopian but worth trying." Considering the dystopian "us vs. them" imagery Soviet television force-fed Bulgarian children, Kostova shouldn't feel guilty about utopian impulses. The film's segues feature one such propaganda throwback, a silly cartoon that reads like a cautionary tale about the perils of Western culture.

Throwing this caution to the wind, many Bulgarians fled westward to escape the Communist government and its designs for ethnically cleansing their diverse homeland. And when that all collapsed in 1989, a sort of national identity crisis emerged.

"After the fall of the regime, everything that was oppressed and hidden came out and created a strange mix-hybrid image of Bulgaria borrowing from the East and the West, Orient and Occident, and getting out of control," Kostova says. Body Without Organs captures this hybrid sensation in a new context: as manifested on the dance floor. Barriers tumble and strangers merge into one body sans politic.

"The process of integration will see a lot more intended and unintended cultural inter-penetration," says DJ Joro-Boro, also by e-mail from New York. No, he's not describing the Bulgarian Bar dance parties he incites. He's talking about his native Bulgaria's ticket to the EU dance.

However, becoming a new diplomatic crossroads is going to be a lot tougher than crumpin' with neighboring bodies. Joro-Boro mentions how Bulgaria must reconsider its social hierarchy that prizes folk tradition while ignoring its "kitsch" street culture and manifold heritage, including that of the nomadic Roma.

In Kostova's film, Eugene Hutz (of gypsy-punk group Gogol Bordello) draws on the silent plight of these people with no place to call home. Onstage and in the crowd, Hutz leads the audience through anthems for the dispossessed, mustering sweat and respect for the marginalized "gypsy" lifestyle. "We're all immigrants," he says. "This is how we live. This is what we experience and that's why it's fucking authentic."