Viktoria Draganova is a curator and writer living between Frankfurt am Main and Sofia. In 2014, she founded Swimming Pool, a non-profit project space in Sofia focused on artistic and curatorial research, collaborative approaches, art education and art community politics. Her personal research relates to present and future of micro organizations and institutional inventiveness. Since 2020, she participates in several working groups on promoting social and structural support for art workers and independent organizations in Bulgaria, as well as she is co-founding member of the Visual Arts Initiative. Outside Swimming Pool, she has worked with Städel Museum and Schirn Kunsthalle (both Frankfurt am Main) and curated projects at David Dale Gallery, Glasgow, Art in General, New York and Futura (Prague). Viktoria writes for research publications, artists’ catalogues and art magazines, her texts have appeared in Badland, Echo Gone Wrong, Flash Art International, Frieze, Mousse magazine and СВЕМА. Viktoria has studied law and holds a degree in law and PhD in legal history.
What you are doing right now?
My curatorial practice has mostly evolved through the institution – first through Swimming Pool, and for a year now, also through the Center for Social Vision. I’ve been increasingly relying on the conversation format – I first used it with educational platforms, then it was an important part of the project The Possible Institution or the public program Negotiation, meanwhile I’ve employed it in all the different projects and causes I invest my thought and action in. I try to create a frame around a loosely defined topic for regular encounters between artists, researchers, curators. After certain amount of time we get to the point to know what matters most to all of us, and we bring it into the public space where we engage different people and perspectives in order to create a broader discussion. This is also where the (micro)institutional framing is crucial: When the state is in a permanent crisis, it is independent organizations that are the result of an individual (or of a few peoples’) choice and effort, which manage to resist and are able to take care of long-lasting directions and policies – mostly by keeping the conversation alive.
What comes to your mind in connection with contemporary art when you hear the word “exhibition concept”?
One of the Center for Social Vision’s main questions is how art practices in public space or community art translates into the gallery space; we also discussed it in depth with Dessislava Terzieva and Dridon Selmani whose practice is closely related to that. To me, the exhibition has become a sort of emanation of these ongoing conversations, and an opportunity to create a space where we invite the public to join this conversation as well as to engage with topics raised over the course of long-term research and observation that have mostly taken place outside of the white cube and with the participation of many different people and positions.
Who are the 5 CEE artists / works of art that come to mind when you hear the word above?
Well, there are so many amazing artists in Bulgaria, and I’m lucky to have worked or to continue working with most of the artists I admire and enjoy, Nevena Ekimova, Maria Nalbantova, Martin Penev, the playwrights Stefan Ivanov and Stefan Prohorov, the collectives Sapromat, Kosmotehnika, the dramaturg Yasen Vasilev, also the expat artists Rada Boukova, Zhana Ivanova and Gery Georgieva, to name a few …