The “August in Art” Festival was first held in 2000. It has undergone various metamorphoses in the past ten years in search of the perfect model. The festival’s structure has remained flexible to allow changes in tune with the sometimes uneven, yet fairly quick pace of significant social change. Initially promoted as a visual arts festival, “August in Art” evolves, keeping in line not only with the development of the art scene in the city of Varna, but also in Bulgaria as a whole. The festival is to a large extent a reflection of the establishment of a new social reality, whose rules and laws offer fresh new challenges.
Today “August in Art” is more assertive in its search of an image as an international contemporary art biennial. What is the fastest way of achieving a “recognizable image”? Is there such a way at all? What is required at this point is substantial support for the festival on the part of the community. One possible solution is to view the world surrounding us through the prism of what is most familiar and obvious. Many people associate the city of Varna first and most of all with the beauty of the sea, the dream of a romantic getaway, potential journeys, endless horizons, love affairs and separation. Varna residents, however, view the city from a somewhat different angle. I have chosen the title “The Big Wave” as a metaphor standing for everything associated with endlessness and imagination, yet also with destructive forces and mercilessness. It also is a reflection of the willingness to have a dialogue with locals, as well as an attempt to interpret their own take on the sea and life at the seaside.
Is there such a thing as “the big wave”? What is it like and where is it to be found?
According to research, every single moment there are at least ten freak waves reaching 30 meters in height roaming the seas and oceans of the world. Instances have been recorded of ships having come across such waves. Yet, there is also a large number of oceanographers claiming that they are a mere fancy, similar to the stories about sirens and sea monsters. Human practice, however, has been speaking more and more often to the contrary. That is the reason why a lot of researchers today specialize in their prediction. Until that happens, everybody should be alert to the big wave.
The “big wave” is a term also used by mathematicians. After it was established that the universe is expanding and accelerating at an ever-increasing pace, there came the theory of “dark energy”. This hypothetical form of energy prompts the universe to expand like a balloon, thus pushing galaxies further apart. The landscape of outer space is gradually growing barren. The “Big Wave” theory offers an alternative explanation according to which galaxies are simply misplaced as a result of the big bang wave passing through space and time.
Regardless of where it might be, the “big wave” is a blend of truth and imagination, scientific fact and legend, evidence and counter-evidence. A substantial body of fictional work is devoted to the sea. Legends of sea nymphs, i. e. the Nereids, are to be found in the folk tradition of many countries. Those beautiful creatures like music and dancing; they entertain sailors and also help them fight perilous storms. Nereid is also the name of planet Neptune’s most distant moon. Naming a heavenly body after legendary sea creatures is hardly a coincidence. Enhanced knowledge of the galaxy and water expanses does not make us less attracted to them.
Over the last 20 years the history of Bulgaria, Eastern Europe and the world has had a lot to do with big immigrant waves, which have changed forever interpersonal relationships, as well as whole local cultures. Artists who will participate in the eighth edition of “August in Art” will explore in their works both the specific and metaphorical dimensions of the “big wave”, seeking for the points of intersection between reality and fantasy, going all the way from mythical sea creatures through to today’s heroes, from poetry through to prose, from the big wave as a natural phenomenon through to the big Bulgarian immigrant wave and global migration. New technologies and approaches will be competing with traditional ones, fairy tales will go hand in hand with reality. Because regardless of technological advancement, using stars in the night sky to find our way, as well as romantic star counts have not been declared void yet.