Part of Brighton Photo Fringe 2018 is an experimental exhibition – The Collectives’ Hub, featuring work by eight collectives selected from open submission showcasing new photography in all its forms. Revolv were invited and had the opportunity to show their first entirely collaborative project at Phoenix Brighton.
The festival programme included an artist talk delivered by Krasimira and Lina on the 20th October, Saturday. The talk aimed to provide an insight into their practices since graduating, mainly concentrating on their methods of working and their latest collaboration 4UZHBINA. Krasimira and Lina discussed their use of found photography and alternative processes in order to question notions of belonging, representation and loss of their roots in the process of migration.
Krasimira has always been fascinated by found photography, but only started including this element in her practice out of frustration with images she had captured herself. Since then, she has been expanding her personal archive of found photography, acquiring the majority of it at car boot sales. Her fascination with the images she finds enables her to reimagine her own experiences by appropriating them through destruction and construction. Krasimira applies similar approaches to the images part of 4UZHBINA, transforming them to fit her vision.
Lina’s use of materials such as clay and found objects began in 2016, when she undertook an artist residency at Ashford School. Domestic objects, handmade ceramic pieces and projections developed a sculptural element in her work. Found photography made its way into Lina’s practice organically, through her discovery of archival material and physical response to her own family’s archive. Access to facilities during the residency provided an opportunity for Lina to move away from her documentary practice and explore more experimental grounds, by treating clay surfaces and found objects with alternative processes in the dark room.
The audience of the talk at BPF heard more about the ambiguous title of the project, which was born through ‘a borrowed memory’ from one of Krasimira’s childhood friends. The friend recalls playing a game called ‘Countries’ and always selecting the country ‘4uzhbina’. This word is Bulgarian and literally translates as ‘a foreign land’. However it is referred to a place where people migrate to by society. No matter what country one migrates to, the common reference across society is always to that ‘foreign land’. This explains the ludicrous misunderstanding of the young girl that ‘4uzhbina’ is an existing country.
The work on show at BFP commenced during a period when Krasimira was in the UK and Lina in Bulgaria. The exchange of photography, archival material, writings and ideas between the two artists in separate countries has become an important element of both the start, development and concept of the project.
Having lived the second half of her life in the UK, Lina feels like a tourist in her birth country. Whilst visiting Bulgaria, away from the fragmented identities constructed in an attempt to fit in UK society, she is able to reflect on her becoming and representation through images she creates and finds during her stay in Bulgaria. Material is brought back to London and printed onto found objects in the dark room. The printed surfaces, collected from her immediate surroundings in London, are affected by daylight and undergo a continuous transformation, much like Lina’s own status.
At the same time, whilst in the UK, Krasimira works with found photography purchased by her father at car boot sales. Lately, her father has become her personal collector and essentially decides what is included in her archive. Krasimira receives the family photography of strangers, but recognises herself and plays with the connotation and denotation. She references memories from her past experiences of the UK by appropriating these found images through alteration of colour, cropping and layering to create a piece fitting the context.
The two founders of Revolv have worked collaboratively on the creation of 4UZHBINA, not only through sharing their progress and organising regular crits, but also through experiencing the same estrangement and loss of home and identity. The two sides of the same story are being told through various materials and interventions of personal and found family imagery. Completing each other’s journey and stories, Lina and Krasimira aim to pose questions about where do they and other European citizens belong in such delicate times.