OFF AND ON and on and on

Nina Kovacheva and Valentin Stefanoff

22.12.2021 - 22.01.2022

ninavale. OFF AND ON and on and on, 2021. EXHIBITION VIEW

ninavale. OFF AND ON and on and on, 2021. EXHIBITION VIEW

Exhibition of ninavale*
Curator Maria Vassileva

The room is relatively dark. Its walls disappear; only the contours, outlined by pink-red neon tubes, are visible. The walls are gone, and the room has become elusive, ephemeral, abstract. The architectural narrative of the space has been cleaned and minimized to the idea of it. The structure of the Structura Gallery.

Upon passing through the portal of entry into the main space of the gallery, the viewer activates the microphones, and the sound of footsteps mixes with the sound coming from speakers – 24 in number, loosely scattered across the gallery floor, connected by black cables that resemble drawing, or nerve fibers.

The speakers fill the space with a sound composed of various superimposed abstract elements and a constant sound from the neon with minimal variations. The monotonous repetitiveness of this sound is punctuated by switching on and off. The sound generates a dense and intense environment to create architectural compositions of sound and to activate the structure we are in. Ultimately the result is an immersive, absorbing, captivating, physically intrusive aural and visual experience.

On the wall opposite the entrance, you can see the shadows of letters that make up the phrase “Sometimes Closed is More Open than Open and Open is More Closed than Closed.”* On closer inspection, the shadows are the effect of an illuminated object – metal letters on a glass base.

Ascending the stairs, which are also outlined by neon tubes, the viewer perceives the muffled sound of beating hearts. They find themselves in the next room, which houses eight small-format video screens. The heartbeat is more palpable here. An eye looks out at the viewer from each screen; a heart beats from each screen.

The exhibition aims to explore the question of closure and its effects, both physical and psychological; to make sense of the boundary between pleasure and pain, a powerful yet ambiguous experience. What we are and what we are not, whether our own perception is not based on a permanent illusion. Freedom – it is a matter of constant renegotiation.


* ninavale is the artistic name under which the artists Nina Kovacheva and Valentin Stefanoff sign their joint projects.

** The phrase is from Valentin Stefanoff’s work created in 2000.