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Nina Pancheva-Kirkova

Image-Text-Object: Practices of Research Exhibition

Image-Text-Object: Practices of Research An exhibition of doctoral research projects from Winchester School of Art Level 4 Gallery, Hartley Library, University of Southampton. 10th February - 16th March 2014. This exhibition presents a series of images, texts and objects, which lead us to think about different ways of seeing, thinking, writing and making. The works on display derive from a range of research projects at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. The School is dedicated to the exploration of diverse practices and creative research methods. Studio-based researchers in art and design work alongside those engaged in humanities and social science research, covering areas of art history, critical theory and curatorial practice, as well as the management and marketing of design, media, fashion, and textiles. All researchers at the School are engaged in the critical making of new knowledge: each moving in and out of complex and disciplined modes of activity. Whether it is reading, writing, looking, making, coding, speaking, recording, and much else besides, each are forms of imaginative and critical engagement, developed and extended within the context of a collaborative and inter-disciplinary research community. Works shown by: Richard Acquaye, Bedour Aldakhil, Hazel Atashroo & Oliver Peterson Gilbert, Najla Binhalail, Jane Birkin, Rima Chahrour, Ian Dawson, Kate Hawkins, Ben Jenkins, Sunil Manghani, Kay May, Nina Pancheva-Kirkova, Nicky Athina Polymeri, Walter van Rijn, Elham Soleimani, Lisa Temple-Cox, and Simiao Wang. Practice [ˈpraktɪs] trans. To test experimentally, to put to the test; n. the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it; v. to perform an activity or exercise a skill repeatedly or regularly in order to acquire, improve or maintain proficiency. ORIGIN late Middle English to mean ‘a way of doing something, method; practice, custom, usage’; also ‘an applied science’ (late 14th Century); similarly from the Old French of practique to mean ‘practice, usage’ (13th Century) and directly from the Medieval Latin practica, meaning ‘practice, practical knowledge’; with the underlying root from the Greek praktike to mean ‘practical’ as opposed to ‘theoretical’. Yet, equally, practice encompasses understanding, relating, for example, to the knowledge of the practical aspect of something, or practical experience, which arguably underpins all forms of enquiry, research and the creation of new knowledge. “In everyday language we refer to practice as the application or use of an idea, belief or method. For example, we can speak of the principles and practice of teaching. It also means exercising a profession. The lawyer practices law, the doctor practices medicine. We’re familiar with the idea of business practices, which may differ across sectors of an economy and alter over time. Practice can also refer to the premises of a business, such as the doctor or solicitor’s practice. Perhaps most frequently, however, we refer to practice as the repeated exercise of an activity or skill so as to acquire proficiency in it; a child practices a musical instrument and if they complain we gently remind them: ‘Practice makes perfect!’ Practice, then, can mean a customary, habitual, or expected way of doing of something: a technique or set of techniques that end in a particular result (as Aristotle claims for praxis). In the university setting, the practice of a subject, such as law, medicine, art or music, refers not simply to attaining of a certain degree of proficiency, but to becoming situated and expert within a field of study. Furthermore, practice in this sense can refer to speculative endeavours, which allow unexpected outcomes and help challenge established ways of thinking, thus making it both repetition and variations based on and in response to repetition required to hone a skill. The artist’s studio, for example, is a site of sustained practice in making and re-making images and objects of culture. The writer, as a practitioner of words, works and re-works texts in pursuit of new thoughts, images and meaning; while the ethnographer, as participant observer, reports on the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group, which otherwise remain unarticulated. As a set of interacting centrifugal and centripetal forces, research practices – simultaneously and paradoxically – take us toward and away from disciplined ways of understanding and fashioning the world we inhabit. We look, ponder, write and make; always prompting practical forms, engagements, and processes. To decouple the misconstrued, yet persistent divide of practice/theory, we might usefully pair the Greek praktike not with a single term for theory, but two philosophical terms: theoria (contemplation) and theoros (participation), the latter emphasizing an act of witness and participation in an event or activity. Together these terms help us consider a more fluid notion of theory and practice, whereby the two become inextricably intertwined and one impossible without the other. In experiencing an artwork, for example, theoria helps conceptualise the interface between art and its viewer. The artwork does not possess an intrinsic ‘truth’ claim, but does have a claim upon us – at its simplest, the artwork demands it be considered an artwork, to which the viewer must respond, even if the response is to deny it such status. The artwork, then, places us immediately into both a practice of thinking and a thinking of practice.” Sunil Manghani 2014 Private View 13th February 5pm – 7.30pm. My installation at this exhibtion is titled "How to Create an Ideal Past" and it's part of my current practice based research. "When does the ‘past’ end and the ‘now’ start if we look at a country which was under a totalitarian rule 24 years ago? Travelling around Bulgaria, one can still see Socialist Realist images throughout the country. Displayed in different forms – as sculptures, portraits, even on billboards – sometimes they dominate the urban space, leaving the question “did the communist past actually end?” valid and open. As part of my current research, my installation “How to Create an Ideal Past” is situated in the context of these questions, although far from the ambition to answer them. The work seeks to explore approaches for constructing notions of the past by means of images, a peculiar ‘repainting of the past’ which has taken place after the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria, supported by the ex-official artists and the main art institutions in the country. The installation focuses on one aspect of ‘repainting of the past’, namely the constant repetition of the same Socialist Realist images in the post-communist situation as signs that are claimed to represent a ‘whole and truthful’ notion of the past. To reflect on this subject, I used as source material popular photographs and sculptures of the Bulgarian communist leader Todor Zhivkov from the communist era. Using one of the sculptures as a model, I have created three almost identical paper sculptures, after that cut them into pieces and arranged them in a way that obstructs their perception as an ‘entity’; in this way they constitute chaotic fragments of a ‘past’, or maybe a ‘present’…"

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