Gorgons in the Storage Room, or Apocalypse Now

Sofia City Gallery, Sofia

April 28-May 28, 2013

From the series “The Other Eye” at Sofia City Gallery

Curatorial project in collaboration with Ani Vaseva and Monika Vakarelova.

Work on the creation of the third exhibition in The Other Eye series of the Sofia City Art Gallery (initiated by Maria Vassileva, to whom we are very grateful for inviting us) placed us in the unexpected and challenging situation of having to think/watch/display as a group. We alternated between uniting into a triple being, different-eyed and different-faced, and re-forming into smaller entities (and multiplicities). A triple monster with a revealing gaze, with six eyes or three bodies in a cave full of images.
Ancient Greek mythology has a name for such beings: the three Gorgon sisters and their three sisters, the Graeae. “Who are the Gorgons? They are monstrous beings of utterly contradictory traits; their monstrosity consists in that very condition – incompatible traits in combination.”1

Their sisters, the Graeae, have only one eye and one tooth, which they share among them.
Conversely (mirror-wise), we united the multiplicity of our eyes into a singular (single) event: the exhibition Gorgons in the Storage Room, or, Apocalypse Now. Our gazes crossed in the art gallery’s storage room, discovering attractive but monstrous images – images that roam the edge of the known world. “The Gorgons live beyond the Ocean, beyond the borders of the world at the gates of
Night…”2 The female gaze reveals already existing images which we omit or do not want to see.
Besides the obvious wink-and-nod to the gender and number of the three curators which indicates the potential feminist uses of the image of the

Gorgons3 (expressing female rage, turning what they see to stone so that it can be critiqued, re-examined and renegotiated), the title of this exhibition also gives a wink and a nod to the very idea of “another eye” insofar as these mythical beings embody the anthropological connection between the eye and the image, the threat and risk to the agent related to them, evoking terrifying
fantastic visions regarding the monstrous autonomy of the eye. Here is one of the countless connotations of the image of the Gorgons: the direction which no one should turn in; that which no one should see. We couldn’t help being fascinated by this generative power of the mythical monster – a female monster, an inhuman organ, a creator of images. Yes, the Gorgon is in the storage room because she constitutes the foundation of all the paintings stored there and waiting to be rediscovered. In the section of the exhibition titled Apocalypse Now, Ani Vaseva and Monika Vakarelova trace the line in the Sofia City Art Gallery collection whichdeliberately or accidentally reveals the dual foundation of the images of the real. Works that use a banally imagined “reality” as primary material for the formation of a hazy, dual, ambiguous, occasionally topsy-turvy and ultimately monstrous world – frozen under Medusa’s petrifying gaze, swollen with impending tension. The Gorgon’s terrifying gaze makes visible the troubled tremor on the apparently calm surface of images.
Boryana Rossa communicates with the world not by presenting that which is “beyond” it but by seeking the contradiction in it and showing “the beyond”, “the otherworldly” within its heart. Just like Perseus, this complacent world is trying to use a mirror shield in order to deflect Medusa’s fearsome gaze. This gaze has not been eliminated, the head still has the power to kill even though it is severed from the body. That is exactly why it is those who do not want to see a mirrored simulacre – those who want to step back from the TV screen, from the media reflection that protects us from many problems through the shield of social conventions – that wrest Medusa’s head from the hands of Perseus, put it on their shoulders and start to turn to stone. It is only by taking the place
of the Gorgons that viewers will be able to understand why there exist angry petrifying gazes and maybe wish to join them in order to express their own rage.
We would like to express our deep, sincere gratitude to the Sofia City Art Gallery staff for the opportunity to work with the collection and for the provided freedom and kindly assistance.
Ani Vaseva, Boryana Rossa, Monika Vakarelova

1. Vernant, Jean-Pierre (200) The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths. Translated
by Linda Asher. New York: HarperCollins.
2. Ibid.

3. The figure of Medusa has been interpreted in a feminist perspective by Hélène Cixous; in the last
few years Kamelia Spasova and Maria Kalinova have initiated several events and publications on
the Gorgon Medusa with the participation of Miglena Nikolchina and Boyan Manchev.