Artist
Vassya Vassileva

Bulgaria / Canada

Vassya Vassileva, performer and lecturer, is cuurrently working on her PhD in Visual Semiotics at New Bulgarian University, Sofia. Her previous studies include MA in Philosophy and Intercultural Studies, BA in Art Pedagogy at St. Kliment Ohridski University, Sofia. Since October 2004 she has been searching for the artist Friedrich Nichtmargen. Areas of interest: visual discourse and culture, contextual analysis, empathic reason, discourse ethics, mental mapping, geography of time-space formations, friedrichology, gargarisma, art as experience…

Performance
In Search of Friedrich Nichtmargen by Vassya Vassileva

Presented by FADO at the 2006 7A*11D International Festival of Performance Art. Co-presented by Toronto Free Gallery.

In Search of Friedrich Nichtmargen / From Uncreative Travel Book XXII [Surface Area 510,100,934 KM2 196.950.168 miles2] (short title: In Search of Friedrich Nichtmargen) will unfold as a series of talks (public and personal), actions, lectures and installations situated around the city, and a presence that aims to establish an ontological framework for the IDea of Friedrich Nichtmargen. Vassya Vassileva invites Toronto audiences to meet with her at the end of each day at Toronto Free Gallery. At that time she will share the daily results of her research through conversations, displays of the evidence she uncovers, and field trips to various local sites of interest.

Vassya Vassileva has been in search of the artist Friedrich Nichtmargen since Thursday, 4 Nov 2004 14:42:37 -0800 (PST). Upon losing him, Vassileva cancelled her engagements in order to search for all vestiges of evidence of his existence. According to Friedrich Nichtmargen, every declared identity is misleading, unhelpful and irrelevant ‚Äď a pure diagnosis. In explaining her reasons for believing she might find traces of Friedrich in Toronto, Ms. Vassileva sent this fragmentary message:

I was informed by the artist Hermann Hessler that Friedrich intended to go to the Canadian woods in relation to the ‚Äėindispensability of measuring the distance between certain kinds of trees.‚Äô I decided at once that the next geographical locality of my quest shall be Canada. During my stay in Toronto I will search for Friedrich Nichtmargen. In order to prefigure his local appearance, I shall strictly follow his own rules of mathematical formalization while scrutinizing geographical twists and measuring the distance by my own…

Additional performance: October 19 @ 8:00pm
XPACE Cultural Centre, 303 Augusta Avenue, Toronto

This performance was presented in FADO’s IDea series (2005‚Äď2007), curated by Paul Couillard.

© Vassya Vassilev, In Search of Friedrich Nichtmargen, 2006. Photo Henry Chan.

Series
IDea

Curatorial Statement by Paul Couillard

Issues of identity are at the centre of IDea, FADO‚Äôs multi-year international performance art series. Chris Barker writes that cultural politics are about “the power to name; the power to represent common sense; the power to create ‘official versions’; and the power to represent the legitimate social world.” These powers speak to identity in a territorial, institutionalized framework, but performance practices offer the possibility of turning their presumed weaknesses‚ÄĒcontingency, ephemerality and aterritoriality‚ÄĒinto strengths, by offering a potentially decolonized, non-institutional forum.

The concept of identity has been at the forefront of art discourse since the 1980s. Performance artists have been particularly concerned with how our various identities are constructed, how they mark us and how they influence self-understanding. At the same time, artists have also used performance tactics to problematize and transform their identities. In recent years, the debate has shifted to examine identity issues in subtler, less didactic ways, using the territory of identity as a ground for complex and often ambivalent readings of subjectivity, hybridity and representation. IDea draws from this growing body of work.

The series considers a broad range of identity labels, including gender, skin colour, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, physical appearance, familial role, economic status, political affiliation and profession, to name a few of the more obvious possibilities. In blunt terms, the series will circulate around an underlying set of interrelated questions. How do we accept or resist these multiple identities? Which do we choose to embrace, and why? What identity labels are misleading, unhelpful or irrelevant, and in what ways? How do these labels intersect with one another? How do they determine the nature and quality of our lives? How do they contribute to a sense of belonging or alienation?

While these questions inform the series, they are only a contextualizing lens, not a prescription for how individual projects should or will be structured. IDea is not about representation, or the politics of difference, which is to say that the intention is not to assemble a collection that presents one of each kind. We are not encouraging strident political statements (though there is certainly room for them), but rather, featuring works that reveal something about how the creators understand and situate themselves. Along the way, we also hope to track how artists use performance tactics to circumvent prescribed attitudes and behaviours around identity.

IDea seeks to consider a range of bodily identities‚ÄĒphysical, social, political, emotional, and spiritual. To provide further context for the series, commissioned critical that respond to each of the performances. These texts will come from an interdisciplinary variety of thinkers in the realms of philosophy, religion, politics and science.


The IDea series presented 12 performance projects between 2005‚Äď2007, and was curated by Paul Couillard.

Series Purple

An ode to FADO's history, Series Purple is composed of a collection of purple fragrance materials dating back to the Roman Empire. Dense, intense, and meandering, this fragrance tells us non-linear stories.

Top Notes

huckleberry, violet

Middle Notes

cassis, lilac, heliotrope

Base Notes

orris root, purple sage, labdanum