Created in 1997 by Ruen Ruenov, an art critic, journalist and curator, the Sofia Underground Art Festival has won a reputation of a major art event in the interdisciplinary genres of visual performance art, actionist art, happening and new media.
In 2007 the Sofia Underground organizer and director Ruen Ruenov is joined by Yovo Panchev to renew the annual character of the festival, now focusing on the relation between the new generation of artists and the different social and political context. The Sofia Underground Remember Sofia Underground 2007 edition becomes a success bringing together around 30 performance acts, sound art and several installations as well as a big exhibition of documentation and actionist works in matter. The 2008 Sofia Underground Alone brings together more performances and an international crowd. 2009 finds the festival with no funding and a “Crisis Edition” is held with a series of lectures, screenings and few smaller scale nights of performances at several locations in Sofia.
The documentation of the festival has been presented on several special screening occasions in Sofia, Plovdiv, Berlin (2011), London, New York (2011), Rousse (2012) as well as the Cairo biennial in 2002.
Occupy Yourself Poster
Photo: Sofia Underground
The Sofia Underground International Performance Art Festival 2013 was organized by Yovo Panchev and Ivo Ivanov on the concept of a Gesamtkunstwerk and was called Occupy Yourself.
The Festival took part in several segments:
- An exhibition Sofia UNDERGROUND 1997 – 2003 FILES with the video documentation of
the festival that concluded with the donation of the video archive to the National Museum
for the Visual Arts. The exhibition opened and closed with performances and featured a
lecture and happenings.
A presentation at SAMCA which was seen by a large audience and caused public interest.
The workshop "Occupy Yourself" which gathered experimental sound artists and introduced
them to the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or the Total art piece. It was held at the
Neu!Berlin Bar along with few informal screenings.
- The performance night scheduled on May 18 - the International Night of the Museums
and Galleries included some performances, interactive interventions and a lineup of
experimental sound and music artists and was meant to spontaneously develop into a
fusion of sound, visual and movement/presence by the various different artists and styles
covered. Some 15 videos where created and shown in the context of the Gesamtkunstwerk
simultaneously on on four screens as a part of the visual context.
On May 20the festival was also presented in Varna, at ConTempo festival by Vjunk (Helsinki) and Yves O (Ivo Ivanov).
The festival is supported by Gaudenz B.Ruf Award, Union of Bulgarian Artists and ArtExpress-2004.