Venelin Shurelov. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist

About the artistic work and the curatorial concept of the central exhibition of the Danube Dialogues 2021 we are talking with Venelin Shurelov, who is, together with the Artistic Director of the DD2021 Festival, Sava Stepanov, the curator of the central exhibition of this year’s Danube Dialogues entitled “Society and Art in the Circumstances of Forced Reality” that will be organized in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina in Novi Sad.

DD: Whether and in which way does the topic of the central exhibition “Society and Art in the Circumstances of Forced Reality” fit into Your previous curatorial practice and experiences of the DA FEST (The International Digital Art Festival) that You manage?

VS: From my position as an author, it seems that the forced reality and the resulting crises of the personality and states of society are constant. In my practice, the crisis is an important factor around which I build my actions and choices. The turbulence that we experience collectively and personally is an occasion for constant construction of new imagery, new social mythology, and new patterns of behaviour. Crises support the processes of self-actualization.

Venelin Shurelov, Peripatetic. Photo:Courtesy of the Artist

DD: How often do you have the opportunity to collaborate with foreign artists and curators and to what extent is Your previous experience in co-operation with the curator and Artistic Director of the DD 2021 Festival, Sava Stepanov, important to You?

VS: Collaborations happen often enough not to be unknown to me and rare enough not to be routine. We have known Sava Stepanov since 2016, when I was a participant in the exhibition. Over the years, we have kept in touch and planned this more in-depth form of collaboration. I am grateful for the trust in the assessment and the curatorial flair of Sava Stepanov. In such distance partnerships there is no room for unnecessary moves, communication and decision-making are maximally optimized. Sava’s intuition and erudition have played a very decisive role in the process.

DD: At DD 2021, you perform in a double role: as the co-curator of the central exhibition DD2021 and one of the authors. Can you tell the readers of the DD 2021 Newsletter a little bit more about the creation process and creative strategies related to the work you present yourself with as an artist at the DD2021?

VS: Usually such a dual role is problematic. I admit that it is not new to me and therefore it was not difficult to be convinced to take it. I think the reason I accept this duality as normal is the mixing of my theoretical work as a teacher and my authorial practices. The efforts I make to explore the field of digital arts, to present the topics, manifestos and ideas that excite me, always have these two faces: theory and practice. The work I present entitled “Peripatetic“ is one of my latest autonomous, somewhat grotesque, sad, and stubborn performative mechanisms. The recent global crisis confirms its complex subtext. In very thin associative boundaries through this mythological figure we can read our dependence on natural resources, the vulnerability of the human species, the electronic extension of the body, the biological continuation of the machine and at the same time the romantic aura of walking poets.

Venelin Shurelov graduated scenography from the National Academy of Arts in Bulgaria; PhD (2009). He is a co-founder and associate professor at the MA programme “Digital Arts” (2008 – ) of the National Academy of Arts; co-founder, part of the curatorial team and technical organizer of DAFest, the International Festival of Digital Art in Sofia (2009 – ). He is also the founder of the “Subhuman Theatre” (2004 – ) and the “Via Pontica” International Art Group (200−2005).

He is the author of numerous interactive installations-performances, such as: “Drawing Machine” (2005), “Phantomat” (2008), “Orthoman” (2009), “Tabula Rasa” (2010), “Shooting Gallery” (2012), “Rotor” (2016) – presented at the Ars Electronica Centre in Linz. In 2011 he realized the “Man Ex Machina” cyber lecture, and in 2016 he directed the “Post-Everything” performance/installation, as a guest lecturer at Towson University in the USA.

He has realized a number of stage projects, solo exhibitions and participated in exhibitions and festivals in Bulgaria, Europe and the USA.

Shurelov was awarded for his work in theatre and contemporary art.