Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Hristina Tasheva.
Lives in The Netherlands / Bulgaria
How do you describe your own art practice?
My artistic practice is a fulfilment of my responsibilities and demand of my rights as a citizen of the European Union, a migrant, and a woman.
When I arrived in the Netherlands, I was a Bulgarian illegal immigrant and had no political rights. I realised how easy it could be to strip a human being from public existence and bring the person down to its biological entity. I wonder when people say that the political is not from a personal matter.
The place that was given to me in society, made me feel a victim, seeing no future for myself, being useless and empty. Photography as a medium had empowered me and it became a research tool for me to look at and observe my situation and environment. It was a great discovery. I was not the only “victim”, searching for someone else that is guilty for what I had become, for not having a future and awaiting a miracle from the outside me to happen and liberate me.
What made me a free individual again was this energy and power inside of me that had grown out of the knowledge of the “other” – the migrant, the local, and the human being. I am not alone anymore as I am part of a family: the artist and the theoreticians that created the incredible archive on what it means to be a human. Migration as a theme is only one part of it.
This is how my artistic practice is also a way for me to ask what are my responsibilities to the world I am living in, what can I give to the other, how can I use my experience into my work.
What was your first experience with art?
Coming from a working class family, I was more familiar with folklore: music, traditions and rituals. Later on, in my teenage years, it became some kind of introvert personal experience, born out of my endless walks and “encounters” on the streets of Varna (the town in Bulgaria where I was born). The art had the form of graphic prints, socialistic monuments, orthodox icons and archeological artifacts.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
It is the mixture of hope, love, humour and the belief in the greater good.
What do you need in order to create your work?
I could say I need to be alive. But this will be too idealistic, a statement that belongs to the past. To develop as professional, my experience showed, that I need basic financial security and means to produce my work. With a one-year scholarship granted to me by Mondriaan Fund in 2017, I was able to speed up my progress and invest all my time in my practice.
What are you working on at the moment?
My new book “In Belief is Power” needs to be presented to the world. This is a really hard work for a starting artist and self-publisher, but also part of finalising the work.
Besides thinking about book presentations, exhibitions and distribution of my artist books, I hope to be able to start a new research on the concentration camp “Belene” (1949-1989) in Bulgaria and hopefully in a few months to make the first visual experiments, working also with archival material and performance. I don’t know what will be my personal approach yet to this very dark and heavy time of the Bulgarian history; it will be a great long-term challenge.
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
It was a really great experience last September when visiting the exhibition and symposium “Seeing without a Seer”, organised by the research-based art cooperative Radical Reversibility.