To art history, it doesn’t (or at least it shouldn’t)
Written by Siana Genovska, edited by Scott Green, photos by Pixabay and Siana Genovska
Can the humble in size medal be just as significant to visual culture as a space-dominating artwork such as The Night Watch by Rembrandt? That’s a discussion Nadezhda Rozeva initiates in her 13’ documentary about the art of medals – an overlooked creative process, nowadays often defined simply by its celebratory purpose and inherent relation to award ceremonies.
The short Bulgarian film “The Medal” opened the international festival “Master of Art” on 22 April at 19:00 in the cinema “Lumiere”. The film is an idea of Nadezhda Rozeva, an artist and cultural manager who has been devoted to the art of medal-making for over 20 years. The film is a collaboration with the inspiring young director Slav Velkov. Filmed during the first lockdown of 2020, the film “Medal” is an opportunity for a rare look at the world of medal art, a genre that often goes unnoticed. Participating are Nadezhda Rozeva, medalist, Prof. Bogomil Nikolov, founder of the medal studio at the National Academy of Arts and longtime head of the Metal Department at the National Academy of Arts, and Philip Attwood, former director of the British Museum’s Coins and Medals Department. The production is supported by the program “Solidarity in Culture” of Sofia Municipality. The film is accompanied by English subtitles.
Talking not only about the physical and technical process of sculpting a medal, but also the mental one – a mixture of automatism and immersive focus. It’s an object, which denotes the ability of the artists to synthesize their thoughts to such an extent that they’re able to produce two corresponding and complementary sides of the same object – to establish a relationship between the obverse and reverse. These two sides assume the role of interlocutors in a dialogue between the artist and themselves, the artist and the medium, but also between the artist and the beholder – the one who’ll (be)hold the discussion in their palm. The medal is hand-held, and thus the discussion it posits enters the realm of the tactile: a voluntary multiplication and layering of the sensorial experience, a polysemy praised in post-modern culture. The medal, with its lack of a monumentality when it comes to size, with its contemporary association with sports, could easily be dismissed as a means of personal expression. Nadezhda Rozeva successfully makes the audience recognize it as an art medium just as expressive, just as valuable to art history, as any other visual medium. The short film reminds us that size doesn’t really matter when it comes to means of expression.
The same thing could be said about the festival itself. It’s a niche film festival, fully dedicated to documentaries on art. It is a unique cultural event and the only Eastern European international film festival. Its uniqueness and what at first glance seems to be a limited scope of genres do not by any means limit the scope of its impact – the goal is to show documentaries that manifest the talents and the creative process in the following categories: Architecture, Design and Fashion, Art and Power, Contemporary art, Culinary art, Fine Art, Photography, Literature, Music and Dance, Theater and Cinema. A wide range, a spectrum of creativity, all on this two-sided festival, which formulates a relationship between documentary film and the arts beyond that.
I invite you to look at the “Master of Art” program – the festival’s SPRING EDITION was held from 8 to 29 April 2021 in art cinemas in Sofia, Plovdiv, and Varna. The SUMMER EDITION is yet to be announced. All movies are accompanied by both English and Bulgarian subtitles where needed.