Sofia Underground 2018 – Open Call for Participation

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Sofia Underground is an independent participatory and inclusive community-oriented initiative dedicated to serve as a platform for flexible and experimental showcasing of performance art and other contemporary art forms.
Presenting works across a dynamic range of unique performances, presentations, lectures, screenings, exhibitions, public interventions, electronic music parties and other events, Sofia Underground acts like a critical bridge between the local and the international art scenes and between emerging and established performance art practitioners, activists and enthusiasts.

In 2017 Sofia Underground marked its 20th anniversary and closed a chapter in it’s history. Over 65 participants from more than 30 countries took part in the event, spread over 8 locations, and a week-long program – the longest and most intense edition of the oldest festival for contemporary and performance art in Bulgaria. It asked and answered a lot of questions related to time, space and durability.

In 2018 Sofia Underground will present the traditional three modules – live art, talks and an exhibition, although it will return with another approach to the artists and the public, conceptualized as a reflection over the feedback of its experience so far.

Physically participating artists will be personally invited to realize specially developed projects. It will also feature an exhibition with carefully selected via open call video documentation of performance art works.

SU open call



Two simple words questioning the present state of our mere existence as humans.

What is now? What is contemporary in present-continuous tense? What is contemporary art and the role of the audience now and here?
What happens now when we are constantly viewing, posting, sharing, co-existing, co-producing, co-creating and reach a state of living gone elusive?
What now when we can’t just shut technology off?
Addictions and newly formed psychological diseases are deeply rooted in our everyday life, while anything stored in computerized form is vulnerable to breakdown and obsolescence.*
What now when tech-sphere already generates its own living tissue, thus integrating with biology and eventually nature and technology become one?
Now what? How can we be relevant with the ever changing now?
In a world that’s increasingly non-fixable, answers, solutions, alternatives can always be given, but what are those applicable to now?

*As proposed by Bruce Sterling more than a decade ago in 2004 in his article Delete our cultural heritage?

The open call for participation in the upcoming 2018 edition of Sofia Underground could be downloaded here.

About Antibody-ness as a Form of Expression

This post is also available in: Bulgarian


Adam Rose and April Lynn are Chicago based artists involved with performance art who are also thrilled about presenting their work in various contexts around the world. In the middle of their world tour this summer they had a chat with Ivo Ivanov (Sofia Underground) about influences and what is it to be an antibody performance artist on the road.



Ivo Ivanov (II): So, I guess the first thing I should ask you is: what does performance  art mean to you? Do you have your own definition for that? Can you say that what you do is performance art?

Adam Rose (AR): For me performance art now means a space where new forms of expression can exist. Originally it comes from visual art, whereas dance comes from the traditional performing arts, but there are some forms of radicalized dance that cross into performance, or look like performance art. What we’re doing is more radicalization of traditional forms like music and dance.



Palamartsa, Bulgaria, 2016 ©Ivo Ivanov



II: You’re a classically trained musician. How did you get involved in performance art and why?

AR: I studied music at Ohio State University. My cello teacher told me I lacked body awareness and that my technique was suffering as a result. He had me take an Alexander technique course that focused on body awareness and posture. Soon after I began to improvise movement on my own and dropped out of college, because I had lost interest in classical music. I took two years off and got involved in activism. Then I went to Antioch College where I took a course that had a dance component and liked it a lot. We had this bio portrait project where I made a piece about Antonin Artaud that was a dance and got a good reaction. The dance professor Jill Becker encouraged me to continue and I ended up graduating with a Bachelors in Dance. That’s how it began. Afterwards I moved to Chicago and founded Antibody Corporation.


II: What is the concept behind Antibody Corporation? How does it relate to performance art?

AR: The central concept of Antibody Corporation is the antibody itself. The word “antibody” implies a body against itself, or some form of “negative” body. With that we play with the idea of negation, negativity and conflict: conflict as a form of action, conflict as process — to set into motion the mind-body conflict. Or to turn the traditional mind-body hierarchy on its head. Body over mind. Prioritizing the body as the origin of culture.


II: So, the mind is not the origin?

AR: This is a philosophical and scientific problem: the division between the mind and body. You can’t separate the mind from the body. Most of those wrong ideas come from religion, which claims spirit as the origin of everything. With antibody I take this apart and rearrange it to reintegrate mind and body. It’s an endless conflict that produces many new associations and combinations of ideas.


II: Last year you participated in the Sofia Underground festival doing three separate performances, which strongly involved the audience. How did that feel? What can you tell me about that experience?

AR: Last year I was touring with Non Grata as part of their nomadic Diverse Universe festival. I joined the tour through six different countries – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Greece and Germany. I was really impressed with the organization of Sofia Underground and the spirit of the whole event. The industrial nature of the literally underground hall provided a good context for a dance that involved the audience. Also, as part of my practice I like to just take photos of buildings and empty spaces imagining the way an animal body might move through, or against them. It relates to Antibody’s aesthetic, the element of corporate mimicry, or critique of institutions. The first performance in Sofia was a dance with written choreography based on common words for the body’s parts i.e. hands, arms, feet, legs and head. I invited two audience members to join the performance by executing a simple routine of hops. I also composed the accompanying music. The second performance in Sofia was an improvised talk about E-Prime, a form of English that eliminates use of the verb “to be”. I framed it as an English teaching exercise and it was partly humorous, so the audience reacted with amusement.



I felt Sofia has similarities with my hometown of Chicago. Chicago is a working class city with a lot of empty and repurposed industrial spaces like factories and warehouses. My last performance for Sofia Underground in Plovdiv relied the most on audience interaction. I asked the audience members to sing parts of an old Motown song with me. Then I invited them to play inside a wooden structure in front of the Kosmos cinema, as if it were a forest. We moved around inside with our eyes closed to activate the tactile sense. People used their voices to help guide each other trough this kind of maze. Local artist Boyan Avramov played accompanying acoustic sound with a chain and a metal lid. I remember him saying that I made a miracle by getting the hesitant audience to participate in the performance.


II: Is that your usual approach? How important is interaction for you?

AR: It’s not always necessary, but on that tour I was focused on involving the audience; asking them to translate bits of text into the local language. I used a text like: “Art is bullshit. Murder is wrong. The sky is blue.” – cliché statements that all use the verb “to be. I‘d say that audience participation usually requires some use of language. And dance cannot easily communicate instructions or specific ideas to an audience. Dance lies mostly outside of translation. I try to reveal the gap between dance and language.


II: Now you’ve started to use your own invented language. Was it the next logical step to bridge the physical expression and the mindset programmed by language?

AR: It was a natural progression to deepen our critique of the English language by developing our own as an alternative. It is called Lashtek. The name simply means language”. Lashtek excludes the verb “to be” and uses a Verb-Object-Subject word order. Using this grammatical form prioritizes action and movement as central features of reality. It challenges the idea of fixed identity promoted by the use of English i.e. “I am male. I am American.” It aims to clarify an understanding of a world in motion, rather than a permanent, unchanging world. We live in a world full of transformation, movement and conflict. For me the logic of fixed identity leads to depressing emotional conclusions. To say “I am sad,” implies that I will always be sad, instead of accurately viewing my emotions as transient and always changing. Further, this relates to dance as an art form founded on the idea of movement, of a body in motion.



Pärnu, Estonia, 2016 ©Caroline Sada


II: You’re back in Bulgaria now with your partner April Lynn. How did you guys meet? April, why did you decide to join him for this tour?

April Lynn (AL): We’ve known each other for many years. In 2011 we were part of a group show by our friend Glen Jennings. We have a lot a mutual creative interests. I don’t have a degree in dancing, but in visual arts, but I love to dance and perform and I’ve been doing this my whole life. And last fall he invited me to perform with him and everything happened kind of naturally. I’ve realized I’ve been antibody my whole life.


II: What does that mean?

AL: Growing up as a tall biracial girl in Northern Minnesota wasn’t easy. So, I’ve always felt a disconnect within myself and interactions with other people socially. I was marked as different because of my height and skin tone. I always stood out, never being able to blend in. I was aware of this disconnection and was trying to find a way to fit into the society around me and to fit into my own body.


II: Was performance the way to express this discomfort? Does it help?

AL: I’m 31, so at this point I know my own body very well. I’ve been performing forever quite unintentionally. Recently I feel like I’m performing with a clear intention, an idea of what we want to evoke, though my movements are quite improvised in the moment directed by the space and the people around.


II: Is your work site-specific then? How important is the local context to what you do?

AL: We try to incorporate the audience with our own language, wherever we perform, responding to the space we’re in. Utilizing the differences in each structure we perform in, taking advantage of all aspects of the space, good or bad, is a practice that is common for many artists.


EKKM Estonia

EKKM Estonia ©Pille Laiakask


II: You’re near the end of your European tour. What are the highlights so far? Where was the most interesting location or audience?

AR: We made six different performances in Romania, Bulgaria, and Estonia. Each place we performed in had something interesting about it. Our first performance at REACTOR in Cluj, Romania, had a really engaged audience. They asked us a lot of questions afterwards.

AL: Someone gave me a handcrafted necklace as a gift after the show. I feel like I have friends in Cluj now.

AR: In Bucharest, Romania we performed at Green Hours jazz-café, an underground club which has been in existence since 1994. Through talking with its owner, Voicu Radescu, we got to learn some of its history as one of the oldest alternative spaces in Bucharest.

EKKMi Kohvik hosted the performance we did in Tallinn, Estonia. Seeing the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM) and performing there was interesting for me, because I work as a security guard at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The EKKM did not have security guards. The building it was housed in began as a squat that later became official and legalized. Because of this, it seems they can take more risks than larger institutions and show work that is new and exciting.

AL: We performed in an outdoor space in front of the Museum. We both scraped our knees and shed a little blood on the gravel area. There was an old metal tower-like structure there that we climbed up as part of the end of our performance. We had a great time!

AR: In Pärnu, Estonia, we performed at the Kunstnike Maja, as part of a group exhibition organized by Non Grata and others. In this way, the tour came full circle from last year, performing as part of Diverse Universe hosted by Non Grata again. This was the last time we performed Antiworlds in Europe, and for that reason it felt the most intense and complete in some way.

AL: I agree, performing in Pärnu was a perfect end to the European leg of the tour. A few hours later we found ourselves swimming in the Baltic Sea at night. The water was cold, but it was so beautiful I didn’t want to leave. I almost got hypothermia. I had a great time!


Palamartsa, Bulgaria, 2016

Palamartsa, Bulgaria, 2016 ©Ivo Ivanov


II: You just did a performance in the central square of Palamartsa village. Nothing like that has ever happened there. People didn’t know what to expect the surprise element was on your side. What are your impressions? Did it feel very different from a show in an institutionalized space with a more educated crowd?

AL: Yes, of course it felt different. The number of British ex-pats living in the village was surprising, and many of them came to see us perform. At the beginning of the performance, I read a text in Lashtek, then walked around, asking audience members to read parts of it out loud as well. One woman refused at first, wanting to know if the words we were asking her to read had any meaning. So many different personalities were present. A group of people had just come from the nearby pub. Afterwards a young girl and her father talked with us. She said she liked our movement, and wanted a photo with us. She became maybe Antibody’s youngest fan. If children see our performances, they’re usually scared by it. So this was noteworthy.

AR: In Palamartsa’s main square, we began our performance in front of a monument dedicated to fallen soldiers. This was important for me, because I like monuments and that sense of history. Now, some decades later some weird artists from the US are performing in front of it with an android tablet and bluetooth speaker, dancing around. I’m not sure if something like we did has never happened in Palamartsa before. I feel like events always repeat themselves. Maybe many years ago a group of performers created something strangely similar there and everyone has forgotten.

Before and after the performance, we handed out fliers with info about the performance, and our Lashtek alphabet printed on the back. We had never shared our alphabet before. It felt correct and meaningful to share it for the first time in Bulgaria, as this is the place where the Cyrillic alphabet originated. A couple who own a house in Palamartsa, and also live in Morocco, afterwards wanted to know how to say and spell “magical love” in our language. I wrote it out for them in the alphabet:


They liked it, and said they would name their house in Palamartsa this.


II: How should Antibody Corporation change in order to stay current within the contemporary art scene?

Antibody Corporation changes naturally on its own, just as everything else does. We don’t try to stay relevant, but instead approach current events and trends from a certain oblique angle. We have arrived now in Shiryaevo, Russia, where we will present as part of the Shiryaevo Biennale of contemporary art. The Biennale began in 1999, and this is its ninth iteration, yet we are the first US citizens to participate in it, which is an honor. The subject of this year’s Biennale is CASH, and we are approaching this by thinking about physical currency in relation to the materiality of the body, and dance as a medium of exchange between bodies.

From what we hear, it seems there is not a big scene or market for contemporary art in Russia. But this makes it a more interesting context to make performance in. Once again, we are staying in a rural village like Palamartsa, and preparing a performance to present at the dock by the Volga River.

After this, we will land in New York city, the home of the US’ art market and financial markets.


Shiryaevo, Russia, 2016

Shiryaevo, Russia, 2016 ©Antibody Corporation


Further Antibody related view you are to enjoy following these links:



Sofia Underground as a Form of Protest

This post is also available in: Bulgarian

This interview was first published online in Bulgarian in the portal on the 3rd of Mai 2016.като-форма-на-протест/
We reissue it in English language with the kind permission of the author and the media.


Sofia Underground was held for the twelfth time from the 19th until the 24th of April 2016. Its main stage for a second year in a row was the electro-control room of the National Palace of Culture.
A conversation between Daniela Radeva and Yovo Panchev, organizer of the festival.


D.R.: Yovo where is this festival going to?

Y.P.: Sofia Underground has a very flexible form. We define it as a festival rather because of the lack of other word, or just because it’s easier. It’s maximum close to the mood, the feeling – social, spiritual, emotional in certain moment. This “sense” that the festival developed with the years is, perhaps, it’s most curious quality. It worked out as a effect from one moderately open selection, but also from our hooligan approach towards our work. It’s been organized as one organizes a strike or a protest, not like a professional festival with the parameters and the attitude, which other festivals  have. We do it with our own means and the impermanent support by some institutions (we mainly thank to Gaudenz B. Ruf). This allows us to maintain the character of the “underground”, independently from the location of happening, the content, the topic, even from the participants. In this sense it is a serious exercise as a artistic practice for us as organizers.

The period 1997 – 2003 is the “first generation” of the festival, created then by Ruen Ruenov. From 2007 to 2015 is provisionally the “second generation”. Following is the “new generation” I hope. I’m just finishing a collection of texts and images about the “second generation” with working title “Below In The Underground”. Because our goal is to investigate border forms, the borders of art and the meaning, how far those forms can cary content, message, thesis – that’s why in this generation we have a lot of noise, experimental, a lot of non-artists, various border attempts, even though mostly those are borders only for one generation. Alas, the lack of cultural memory is a insuperable factor in our culture. When we put out a variety of practices, acts, gigs, attitudes, artworks in our context, in that frame, which is presumably one dark “maze”, we test how what functions, how it gets done, does it work, how it speaks, which are the new for us expression means, languages.

A strike or a protest you say – agains what is Sofia Underground protesting?

That’s what I’ve explained, Sofia Underground is a form of protest, a laboratory for possible conclusions, solutions. The topics of the protest are changing with the curatorial concepts, with the annual tittles. But the energy and, I hope, the meaning of the underground, what makes it more than a festival, is that it shows live art. The art of action, which, besides performance, is the art of acting, of including, of activating in much broader definition. I am talking about the distance between the festival and the people, who participate as audience. Because they are not audience, they participate as audience.


Geeske Janßen from Germany deals with the inner conflict with the body.


We allow ourselves some liberties and we have certain reservations according the ex officio attitude towards art, declared by some of the players in the local scene… and around the world, of course. They call it professionalism. We call it trading.

Art can save the world, but the art market won’t participate.

Have you been asked about how SU is collaborating with institutions like National Palace of Culture, Union of Bulgarian Artists (UBA), Sofia Arsenal – Museum for Contemporary Art (SAMCA)? Why there have to be institutional galleries as partners? And also, did some of these institutions protested agains that the event is “underground” as character, conception, i.e. anti-institutional in it’s nature?

Institutions are a very important thing. Terribly important in our epoch. I am a official in a institution for almost 10 years now. I have always strived to help and work with institutions, not only for the festival, because they have to be activated, to become alive, to be reminded of their roles and responsibilities in society and often to be guided.
When we made our “institution” in the Studio Dauhaus space (later it disappeared physically, the building was demolished), we passed into a ephemeral nomadic platform, which brought added value to other spaces. It gathered content, it stratified cultural layers of the contemporary, often underrated artistic practices. I think we helped a lot of places, such as Vlaikova, the firdge and Plastelin amongst others in their first years.
But of course, about partnership with UBA, SAMCA – it’s because those institutions have to be included, to be reminded of the potential they have. And our strength is in the imagination. Usually it’s missing in institutions. Without imagination nothing happens, there’s no energy, no strength for action.
Let’s not forget also, if we get back to the beginning of the question, that we do everything not only because we like art, but also out of social engagement and position.

According to me sometimes even “underground” places lack imagination. What do you think about the underground in Sofia and in Brussels? Make a comparison.

There’s no comparison, there’s no base for a parallel. Sofia Underground is a name that has gained some meanings.

I mean your overall impression from the scenes.

According to imagination and places, I think, we passed long ago by the for-the-sake of doing some stuff in interesting places. Now it’s a subject of interest for advertisers, the pope rules now the warehouses and yuzinas, even literally.

Is there underground in Sofia?

Well, this question has already been asked to me.
There’s more to be desired, of course. But there are also settings, which are interesting and difficult to reach. There is some stuff happening. With the gradual increase of social isolation and the crisis, in which we cycle, the production and the content of these circles also increases.

I think they will say one day, that in the beginning of the 21st century in Sofia there was no underground, as we say now that a while ago there were no dissidents amongst the artists.

Popularity and information change as they want trough history. In some time the people will say what they have been told to say. Only in the underground of the future some truth about the past will be known, some un-manipulated seed from the truth. So, I believe in the underground of the future.

Generally I think that there’s no reason to make ourselves famous and to fit in history. It’s full with butt-heads, but it has also some dilettantes like us. We don’t last centuries and, as I said before, our haven is imagination and the energy it brings, not the history, but the legend.

What is the topic of SU this year?

“Inner conflicts”. This year curator and author of the concept is Ivo Ivanov. Until now he co-curated different programs of SU. Thanks to the extension of the team with our collaborators from – Vanya Grozdanova and Rad Gyulemetov, the festival developed horizontally and reached more international participants. This year, even though we don’t have main funding, is а peak according to the number of foreign artists.


Lia Ikkos from London is taking part in this year’s festival.


The topic “Inner Conflicts” is very exiting for Ivo, so he developed a conception that rests on the choice of future – attitude towards the outer world and one self, the responsibility.

I wanted you to share your opinion about the different artistic scenes as someone who’s between Brussels and Sofia. And also to say something about the performative character of SU –  why the audience expects a exhibition, but it’s in itself one big performance. Would you organize a event like this in Brussels?

Alternative scenes are very different. In Brussels I’m especially impressed by the curatorial exhibitions and the museums. i.e the work with art, the topics and the society as a mediator. The exhibitions in some nice galleries in Brussels really show exceptional curation – co-inventing, upgrading over the works, introducing of new uses of classical forms. Demonstrating attitude towards art which makes you not only to respect, but also to get more acquainted with the work, the thesis, the author’s point of view. In this rich bourgeois society, with it’s pampering and compensations, the art scene is a polite space for intellectual debate. Or rather a space for polite debate.
This is how one creator from our “underground” translates himself into the scene here – Ivo Dimchev – and crushes some layers, causes excitement, brings charge. Other question is that Ivo Dimchev’s work is not entirely of local character.

Event like this in Brussels I don’t engage to imagine. There are enough people here who do that and it’s not my job.
That’s why I include myself only in our practice and context, which needs modeling and improvement.

As far as my “solo career” as curator and artist, it is not only provoked by woe, but also from practice that gives meaning and makes bearing of things more interesting. The position of active interpreter is a zone of comfort, or at least
sanitary zone. Everybody who deals with art understands and appreciates that, I think, that’s why also we remain in the “zone”.

To get back to the question about Brussels and Sofia. Here [in Brussels Ed.] there are a lot of good practices, developed system, infrastructure, relations, levels, horizontal and vertical borders in the art world, that define the coordinates of every artistic action. As long as it has positive sides, as for example the purely practical “good practices”, it also has its negatives. We don’t have these negative sides. We have others, but with a bit more character and work they are overcomed. We cannot be trivial in our attitude to art and it’s role (the role it must have) in society. I don’t speak as a idealist, but as a practitioner.

Our infrastructure will improve if we import a row of practices from the world scenes. Everyone will benefit from that.
It’s very easy to organize a contemporary art fair without scathe, but not a saloon of galleries. Some well working residential programs also. Protection of syndical and other rights and various stuff, which UBA and MC [Ministry of Culture Ed.] have to do. The chitalishta in Belgium for example – meaning municipal culture centers – and even in neighboring Serbia, have open calls for projects, residencies, they have sense for contemporary, or at least actual art, and not only interest in traditions, folk and crafts. What else is there to say?

Beuys or Duchamp?


Yovo, is this interview a performance according to you?


Yovo Panchev is a curator, art critic and artist. He graduated cultural studies and political science at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  Founder and co-organizer of one of the first independent art spaces in Sofia, Studio Dauhaus. he is also a organizer of the Sofia Underground Festival. Currently he works in the Permanent representation of Bulgaria in EU in Brussels.


Sofia Underground 2016 – Inner Conflicts

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Sofia Underground ’16 – a festival for performance and border art forms – has just finished its 12th edition, built over the concept Inner Conflicts and realized between 19 and 24 April in a few various locations in the city of Sofia, Bulgaria. The program of the event presented over 60 artists, coming from 13 different countries. It was created through the selection of this year’s festival curator – Ivaylo Ivanov, who has chosen the participants stepping on an open call for artist acts based on the announced concept.

The main program of the festival, the so called Underground, happened in two following days in the weekend, taking place in the industrial underground space of the Electro-control hall of the National Palace of Culture (near its building Lumiere Cinema), which for a second subsequent year the organizers of the event manage to integrate due to the needs of the independent contemporary cultural practices.

The intensive and rich program presented various performance acts – diverse in character and expressiveness, while enduring from 7 p. m. on Friday and 5 p. m. on Saturday till 3 a. m. during the night, slowing transforming in a culminating way to content of audio-visual performances in the field of electronic music and media arts. As in previous years, this time again, in addition to the program of performances to the attention of the public, were presented a screening program of video art works and a few art installations.

SU '16

Following its already somehow established status of a platform, which is presenting and connecting independent artists in the field of contemporary art practices, in ’16 Sofia Underground again managed to set a program, balanced between Bulgarian and foreign participants, as well as between established and emerging artists, thus encouraging their interaction and sharing of experience, while supporting the development of the local art scene. The involvement of the audience, which is another important focus in the programming of the event, in this edition of the festival was provoked by the interactive performances as well as through the special supporting program of the festival.

SU '16

The warming up part of the program, named Higher ground, gave the audience the opportunity to attend some introductory for the discourse of the event lectures and artist talks by local and guest artists. They were held at the places of the NG / Sofia Arsenal Museum for Contemporary Art (in which collection actually, is included the documentation of the first editions of Sofia Underground), also, the “Man and Earth” National Museum and the “Red House” Centre for Culture and Debate. Sofia Underground 2016 ended with a post-program, named Overground, within which metaphorically, as a representation of a kind of a sociocultural “inner conflict”, in the festival was integrated one, locally active during the past years, public debate and the protest related to it.


SU '16



The artists, presented at Sofia Underground 2016 – Inner Conflicts:

Andreas Mares (АТ), Andrey Hinkov (BG), Arch. Iassen Markov & Divine Design (BG/DE), Arch. Philip Bitrakov (BG), Daliah Zipper (DE), Daniela Marcozzi (IT/DE), Desislava Tsoneva-Chumma & Olga Yocheva (BG/DE), Fabiano Mixo (BR/DE), france rose & Helle Grøndahl – Art[]Gender[]Art (US/NO), Frances Kay (UK), Geeske Jansen (DE), Georgi Yamaliev feat. Nino Gomez (BG), Hilda Kahra (SE/FI), Ilina Konsulova (BG), interference (IT), Iren Petrova & Violina Ivanova (BG), Ivan Yamaliev (BG), Jacek Sienkiewicz (PL), Janine Eisenächer (DE), kek (TR), Krefer & Matsu (BR), Kristin Zlatanova & Petya Mukova (BG), Lea Pischke (DE/FR/UK), Lia Ikkos & Daniel Hernandez (UK), Luthien (VE), Marcel Sparmann (DE), Marian Tzenov & gang (BG), Martin Penev (BG), Mira Jankova (BG), Natasa Prljevic & Joshua Nierodzinski (SR/US), Nellie Borisova (BG), Olia Sosnovskaya (BY), Orlin Dvoryanov & Maya Antova-Mayoto (BG), Prodan Markov (BG/DE), Radoslav Maglov (BG), RoboKnob (BG), Ronald Bal (NL), Rositsa Getsova (BG), Sara French (IE), Veronika Prejdarova (BG), Yanko Andonov (BG), YvesO (BG), Yvonne Costa & Diogo Maia (FR/PT).

The festival Sofia Underground 2016 is realized by Studio DAUHAUS and, in cooperation with the Congress Center of the National Palace of Culture, and with the support of the Polish Cultural Institute in Sofia and Gaudenz B. Ruf Award for Contemporary Bulgarian Art. Additional support for the event was received by the European Cultural Foundation, Goethe-Institut Berlin, Goethe-Institut Munich, State Institute for Culture to the Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, OCB and V/HOD – platform for documentary arts.

* * *

The organizers are grateful to all the large number of volunteers, which actively supported the preparation and the realization of the event, as well as specially thank to for their support in our work with the volunteers.

We also thank to all artists, who participated in Sofia Underground 2016, being open and supportive and who helped us conduct a content of quality, no matter the lack of financial and institutional support, which were the conditions of the 2016 edition of the festival.

Our team is expressing gratitude to the team of DNA – space for contemporary dance and performance, which helped us in the realization of the dance performance in our program.

We are thankful to all those of you who decided to stand behind us, while doing Sofia Underground 2016. And, last but not least, we greet our special audience!

Get ready for the upcoming next explicit edition Sofia Underground 2017 – when the festival is having its 20th anniversary!

SU’16 team

SU '16

DARK LIGHTS: félin amour @ Night ’15, Plovdiv

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Visual identity: So Many Stories To Tell

Steffi Weismann @ Sofia Underground 2015

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Just before the opening of Sofia Underground 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting one of our international artists- Steffi Weismann. We talked about her long-term relationship with machines and the performance she has prepared for us tomorrow. Make sure you don’t miss it. 


About Steffi Weismann

I work with any sort of live art. Combining sounds, voices, using my own body, sometimes video. I am interested in the live situations, to create a performance that is unique and interacts with the audience, with the current situation and, of course, the place.  So you can say I never repeat a performance, it doesn’t happen in the same way. It’s always a combination of prepared performance an improvisation. My work is a process itself. I need the contact with the audience in order to develop it. It changes with every performance and I try to use the experience I’ve gained. I’m not an improviser, at least not completely. I have a concept that keeps my performance together, that I work on, but also a great part of it I leave open for improvisation. Communication is a key word for me. Using not only words, but images and sounds in order to communicate.


I am interested in the human- machine, interface and relationship. Ten years ago I started working with do it yourself technologies and building little machines and robots. Five years ago I begun working with this instrument that I brought to Sofia. I call it the lap-strap. It is a sound-belt, allows me to move with sounds. It is independent in a way that all of it’s parts are on my body, the amplifiers, the mixer, the microphone and other interfaces. With this equipment I can record right away- audience reaction, for example- and mix it. Instant composing- a mixture between the movements of the body and music and sounds.



I interact with machines in my everyday life, so I like to bring this into my artistic work. I have another project in which I communicate with my computer, it knows more about me than I do myself, it’s my coach in a way. I did this 15 years ago, when this wasn’t such an obvious topic, the computer having this collection of data, keeping our identity. For me it is very important to look at this human- machine communication. And I find it also very funny. I don’t see it only in a critical way, there is a humorous side to it. Because people often treat machines like… people. Like someone who is close to you and you have an actual relationship with. And I find it’s important to make a comment about it, take a closer look at our behavior around machines.


There are people working on programs, that I think can be dangerous. Programs that control people. But if I chose to be afraid instead of looking for my own way to incorporate technology in my work, this wouldn’t be a solution. So I started creating my ideas throughout technology, use it as a tool. Machines aren’t good, nor bad, they are a possibility.

As a performance artist, I think, it is also very important to use your own body, voice, senses and not use too much technology. Because you can loose too much time and focus. If you concentrate too much over a technical problem, you wouldn’t be as focused on the interaction with people.



About coming to Bulgaria 

It’s the first time I am here. And I like it, all this little pieces of my experience so far. The talk we had on the bus, the drinks we had in the park in the evening, the nice and open people I’ve met. The site- it is rough and intense, gives a strong provocative atmosphere, something to work with. It’s not just a neutral space, it has history. It both asks questions and wants answers. I am collecting ideas, recordings that I might use tomorrow. The dialog has begun. It’s great that I had two days to develop a relationship with the place. Two days is not much, but it’s a beginning.


Check our program here and be on time for the opening tomorrow!

Backpullver @Sofia Underground 2015

This post is also available in: Bulgarian


On 25th of April at The Energy Source Center of the National Palace of Culture (under Lumiere Cinema) starting at 23:30, as a part of Sofia Underground 2015 – Machines, the sound will be held by Backpullver. 

Engineer Tzvetomir Krumov and Emil Hristov (together a.k.a. ZDimension until 2003) are Backpullver. During the years they had some rare and memorable festival appearances – Ambient Fest, Underground:United, Djebel Basma Service, Орг.Орг fest and a few small concerts at the Art Hostel, Sfumato Theatre, The Red House. Latest show in Bulgaria was at Krasno Selo cultural institute, which got fully recorded:

In 2010 the duo was joined by German Germanov (aka The Saint Inspector, Oppidian) who brought new horizons and verticals in the x and y axis.

They play with home made machines and controllers. Just for fun, without being pretentious, no posing and no remorse. They leave the seriousness to the specialists, because they are none. Their last gig was in 2014 in OCCI, Amsterdam:





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