What is Normal

Collaborative exercise by Radiator Gallery, New York and Structura Gallery, Sofia
Curators: Naomi Lev, Boris Kostadinov and Gregory Volk

Online Launch: July 16, 2021 1 pm New York time, 7 pm Sofia time
Location: www.whatisnormal2021.com

What is Normal is a three-part collaboration between Radiator Gallery, New York, and Structura Gallery, Sofia. It takes place online, creating a unique curatorial platform for the exchange of ideas, presented in a series of exhibitions with curators Naomi Lev, Boris Kostadinov and Gregory Volk.

This online collaboration was conceived during the Covid pandemic crisis in 2020. Galleries and museums were closed and the future seemed hopeless. Strangely, the world had united in common battle and suffering. It was then that we dared to jump out of the comfort of local life and embark on overseas cooperation. Under normal circumstances Structura and Radiator would not likely have met each other, considering their physical locations. It turned out that isolation opened new doors and provoked conversations for which otherwise there wouldn’t have been time, money, or enough energy. Abnormality gave birth to a different normality and to communication that we would otherwise have missed.

The resulting project, What is Normal, is not only a showcase but also an attempt to re-examine currently popular formats for presenting contemporary art online. We began relying on visual communication highly dominated by words and enabled by Zoom and other “live” Internet formats. The first exhibition in the series, Words and Actions, curated by Naomi Lev, shakes up this new reality by presenting an online discussion among four female art collectives engaging with remote geographies and socio-political issues. It is followed by Boris Kostadinov’s project Between Beasts and Angels, exploring the mechanics of human’s interaction with art, in which the machine is the central instrument, mediator and inspiration. Shifting the discourse back to nature, Gregory Volk curates the last show in the series, Contact. Author Jane Bennett has written of “things” in nature as “the vital materialities that flow through and around us” and ascribed to them “thing-power.” Jettisoning an anthropocentric orientation, the artists in Contact collaborate with such “materialities,” which maintain their own vitality and agency.

All the projects are available on the specially designed website www.whatisnormal2021.com and through the online platforms of Structura and Radiator.

Words and Actions
Curated by Naomi Lev

Words and actions is a collaboration and documentation of unique projects created by four art collectives. The all-woman collectives were selected in relation to the dialogue they are creating within their community, as well as the dialogue they’ve established for creating a community. Oda Projesi and Nadin Reschke, a Turkey and Berlin based group of artists created “Tongue”, a creative community-based pedagogic project that plays with the role and influences of subjective language; Mujeres de Maiz, based in L.A. leads ceremonies, poetry readings, pop-up shows, and supportive community healing events that allows a space for their members to come together and talk (literally and emotionally); the NY-based Collective_View created home-based exhibitions between its members and collaborators during recent lockdowns, enabling intimacy and bonding in times when human connection and some form of physical presence were needed most; and finally, The 8th of March Group based in Bulgaria, speaks up for a community of women through political art exhibitions, generation after generation, creating a radical space for growth, change, and a deeper manifestation of freedom. Each participating collective in this dynamic and interactive online show will have a special webpage dedicated to their project, highlighting the groups’ alternative radical actions and soothing words that create unlimited interpersonal connections.

Naomi Lev (https://www.naomilev.com // @nlvrouge) is an independent art writer and curator based in Brooklyn. Lev is dedicated to supporting artists in their process, and promotes rights for creators and women in the field. In 2016 Lev founded the group Collective_View which is an all female-identified, art professional group. This intimate group meets monthly to discuss their roles as women in the art world and in society at large. During New York’s first lockdown in March of 2020, Lev has launched a YouTube channel titled “7 Minutes with Naomi”, where she meets online with artists and art professionals from around the globe to discuss their current state and look at their works of art. Another project that was launched a couple years ago is “Artistsandwriters4ever.com” – an online platform that connects artists and art-professionals and offers a work-per-work barter between its participants. These are all collaborative initiatives that aim at creating a large supportive community. Lev has previously hosted a series of talks at Independent Curators International (2013-2014); curated a conversation and performative-monologue with Jonathan Meese at the Tel Aviv Museum (2013); and artistically directed a series of talks and panels with Vito Acconci at Bezalel Academy and Beit Berl College (2011). Recently curated shows include: “Headlines” (SPRING/BREAK Art Show, 2018), “With Passion” (NY), “in, side – throughout” (NY), and “Preliminary Study: RSI-T” (NY and MI). An upcoming collaborative curated show at Structura Gallery in Bulgaria and Radiator Gallery in NY will launch in July, 2021. Lev was a contributing editor at Creative Time Reports (2015-2016), and has contributed to international magazines such as ARTFORUM.com, Artcritical.com, TOHU Magazine, and BOMB Magazine, among other publications. She holds a BFA in Fine Arts from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, and an MFA from the Art Criticism & Writing program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.

What is Normal would not be possible without the active cooperation of Maria Vassileva, Tamas Veszi, and Daniela Kostova.

Coordinator: Gergana Moudova.

National Culture Fund, Bulgaria: “One-year program to support private professional organizations in the field of arts”