Nevena Ekimova is among the first Gabrovo-based artists with a studio at the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Center
The author presented two monumental installations in the courtyard of the former textile school, part of the project Тrash to Treasure, even before the building was transformed into an art center.
She defines herself as a creator who loves to experiment and create objects of varying scales. She seizes projects through which she always learns something new, she says, and we would confirm that each time she chooses increasingly challenging tasks on the edge of time and resources, surprising both her surroundings and possibly herself. We are having a conversation with her in her old studio, a few days after the opening of three exhibitions featuring her work within one week.
She shares that from a young age, she was surrounded by women engaged in clothing production and can’t remember when еxactly she learned to sew. She loves working with textiles, and she says it comes naturally to her. She admits to being a passionate collector of fake furs and uses them to create a tactile and visual sensation. She often works with waste materials. Her artworks include a huge creature with an unclear shape between an amoeba and a bear, created from bottle caps, adhesive tape, and car wash brushes, which climbed onto a column in the courtyard of the Center Christo and Jean-Claude in 2021. When it appeared there, the building was still the former Textile Technical School (with ambitions for more). She is also the author of the Garden Town exhibition at the Museum of Humor and Satire—a scaled-down model of a city that children can change (just like real cities, where adults seem to have forgotten they can make an impact and thus mostly grumble). She also designed and executed the mythical but nonexistent (before 2020) Mirror Hall at the Museum of Humor. It was mythical because thousands of visitors were convinced they had entered it before and were very upset that it no longer existed, as is often the case in Bulgaria when something nice exists – it gets demolished. And it (the hall) simply never existed before Nevena. Still, it’s wonderful that this riddle of collective memory was erased with a leap into the rabbit hole (and quite a bit of courage).
Nevena completed her secondary education at the Aprilov High School and later enrolled in Scandinavian Studies in Sofia. She received a scholarship that allowed her to study “Liberal Arts” in Sweden and Norway (sounds like a major created especially for her), where she met incredible teachers and became an artist.
Upon her return to Gabrovo, she dreamed for years of a place with large spaces to accommodate her outrageously ambitious projects and vast quantities of materials she tends to collect. When she learned that the former Textile School building would become an art center, she turned out to be the most active artist in organizing studios and transforming the old dusty classrooms and workshops there.
She remembers how as a child she looked at newspapers and magazines with works by Christo with eyes full of admiration, and she herself wrapped everyday objects and observed the transformation of the artwork with curiosity.
She sees the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Center as a place accessible to both artists and art enthusiasts. The studio she now occupies will finally match the scale of her work. She envisions the center as a vibrant space where various cultural and creative activities take place, in which everyone can participate. Such a place is needed not only for today’s artists but also for future generations who will have the opportunity to unleash their imagination and creative skills. Described in this way, the Center sounds exactly like the place for her.
Photographer: Rosina Pencheva
See Nevena’s art live at the following exhibitions:
The New Collection – Center CJC, part of “New Weavers for Gabrovo,” only on 30.09.2023.
Dream Home – Co-op Sofia, until 8.10.2023.
Contemporary Art in the Collection of the European Parliament – nominated works – SAMSI, Sofia, until 21.10.2023.
Tchotchke – Positano Square 1, Sofia – foryouandyourcustomers office, until May 2024.