Art in General (New York) and Swimming Pool present Voice 1/5: On Tradition, a performance work by Snejanka Mihaylova. This New Commission is curated by Viktoria Draganova as part of Art in General’s International Collaborations Program and marks the artist’s first-ever performance in New York.
Mihaylova’s practice investigates the intersection of philosophy, performance, and agency. It reflects on the relation between interior thought and exteriorized voice to consider how knowledge is created and circulated. Voice 1/5: On Tradition is the first part of Mihaylova’s long-term research centered on three female saints considered in juxtaposition to contemporary notions of feminism, radicalism, and nationalism. Using her own voice, Mihaylova activates a vocalization of the subjectivities of these remarkable female figures that are typically limited to text and score-based representations. The work is invested in an aural practice that is political and opens towards an experiential understanding in the context of the Christian Orthodox musical tradition. Opening up questions around how history and tradition are employed in contemporary culture, a close reading of a female saint’s vita is accompanied by piano performance by the artist. Posters created in collaboration with designer Dima Stefanova are distributed to the audience as a visualized version of music theory, systematizing a knowledge that, for thousands of years, has mainly circulated in oral form.
Across all her work, Mihaylova is interested in the relationship between written text and the voice as exteriorized through sound. Her 2015 book Acoustic Thought, commissioned and published by If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution in Amsterdam, explores the relationship between reading and writing that was central to the development of The Bible as a cohesive text. Initially, a collection of oral histories, Mihaylova argues that this text was created by listeners, not by writers. It is from this place of dissonance between reading and writing that the artist engages her ethics of the act of listening and embodied performance. With Voice 1/5: On Tradition the transmission and embodiment of sound between bodies present in the performance space, the voice, and the acoustic instrument are central to the work. Through an attention to the physicality of sound and its affects, Mihaylova reveals a notion of a “collective subjecthood” that brings an acoustic practice to bear on the very space of the art institution—experimenting with a potential for institutional practice to create cognitive and sensorial resonance that deeply engages its audiences in its call for collective thought.
Snejanka Mihaylova’s (b. Sofia, 1978) practice is located at the intersection of philosophy and performance, thinking and theatre. Mihaylova holds a degree in philosophy of language and hermeneutics from the University of Florence, Italy (1996–2001). Mihaylova has also been trained in theatre studies and completed a master’s degree in theatre at DasArts, Amsterdam (2009–2011). In 2012, she was a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. Her work Theatre of Thought, for which she published an eponymous book, has been performed in several locations in Europe, including De Hallen in Haarlem (2011). In 2012 she published the book Practical Training in Thinking and led a seminar in dialogue with Mladen Dolar at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. She has collaborated with If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want to Be part of Your Revolution and took part in the group exhibition curated by Sohrab Mohhebi, Hotel Theory, at Redcat in Los Angeles. She was recently main tutor at the master programme the Master of Voice at Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam.
Curated by Viktoria Draganova (Swimming Pool, Sofia)
Art in General is a nonprofit contemporary art organization that assists artists with the production and presentation of new work. Founded in 1981 by artists, it has been a pioneering force unlike any other institution in New York City, supporting thousands of local and international artists early in their careers. Alongside Art in General’s exhibition programs that take place in New York and internationally, its public programs and publications examine critical and timely issues in artistic and curatorial practice. Offering support that will have a lasting impact on artists remains the cornerstone of its vision and programs. www.artingeneral.org
With the support of Trust for Mutual Understanding.