Straight in the eyes

Boryana Petkova, performance, contemporary art,
SeeN video, installation view, Nosbaum Reding project space, 2024
SeeN video performance, 2024 video and photography Gregoir Avenel

All those eyes that rest on her, and with which she now seeks to come to terms, shape the armour or corset that protects or constrains the body. Each correcting of vision acts like a magnifying glass that amplifies or distorts the vision, enhancing it with a singularity. As the horizon of our gaze, the gradient images appear as a range of viewpoints that look at the world through a prism. Inclusive and breaking down the cultural boundaries of good and evil, her work flirts with the taboos of our societies by confronting us with sometimes illegal or amoral borderline experiences. Her images are derived from carefree moments shared with her daughters, from her everyday work or a social event, but also from scenes in which she replays her past, when drugs, prostitution, begging and theft were part of her daily life in the suburbs of Sofia. The blurring embodies the tipping point where the brain either believes it sees, or refuses to accept, the evidence of what is happening in front of it. Because it is up to each of us to maintain our status as members of a class, consumers, voyeurs or, on the contrary, to share the sum total of these extreme experiences, be they confused, fantasised or repressed.

 As though putting a filter on the brutality of reality, the Bulgarian artist Boryana Petkova performs her past, which she re-photographs through various correction glasses, not to sublimate it or out of nostalgia, but to reveal its masquerades and intensify the fictions that constitute us. This means she uses photography not as a documentary tool, but as an optical play through which she superimposes the camera and the psyche, reality and fiction, seeing and looking. By crossing biological, mechanical, social, individual, conscious or unconscious perspectives, she tears the veil of appearances, and in so doing highlights the norms that rig our gaze.

 Boryana Petkova does not seek to illuminate the obscure; rather, she confronts us with our own prejudices and complicit silences – and does so looking us straight in the eyes. So much so that, in reality, what we see depends exclusively on what we are.

Marion Zilio

SeeN video performance, 2024 video and photography Gregoir Avenel

In a dark space, I wear an armure made by  optical lenses collected  from different people. Different « points of view » , which distort, destabilize my own vision, and twist my faced body. There is a projector flashing lights, which have the rhythm of my blinking eye. The audience can only see me through the flashing, convulsing light that blinds me. 

 Duration : 3h

Performance by Boryana Petkova
Creative Producer : Nalini Cazaux
Video and editing : Grégoire Avenel
Video assistant: Sève Berrier

boryana petkova, seen, sculpture,
SeeN safety helmet made by used optical lenses, dimensions 35x20x20cm, 2022
SeeN hand guards, gorget (neck and face guard) and armour made by used optical lenses 2022/2023

Straight in the eyes, Installation view, Nosbaum Reding project space 2024 credit photo : Nosbaum Reding

Straight in the eyes, Installation view, Nosbaum Reding project space 2024 credit photo : Nosbaum Reding
Straight in the eyes n°1 2024
Straight in the eyes n°3, 2024
Straight in the eyes n°6 2024
Straight in the eyes n°18 2024