Title: High Blue Mountains, Rivers, and Golden Plains
Directed and produced by Borjana Ventzislavova
Format: HD video
Production date: 2009
Acknowledgements: BMUKK / Austria, Art Affairs and Documents
Distribution: sixpackfilm Vienna
High Blue Mountains, Rivers, and Golden Plains
Chalga is a Bulgarian version of turbo folk. Since the early 1990s, the driving, cheap Balkan sounds mixed with traditional drum rhythms and their aggressive obscene texts have been the mass market soundtrack for post-socialist life in Bulgaria. Chalga lyrics channel desires for fast cars, nasty money, and sex.
In High Blue Mountains, Rivers, and Golden Plains, Sofia born artist Borjana Ventzislavova sets a minimalist, performative cinematic language opposite the chalga phenomenon and its visualizations, which are omnipresent in music videos, advertising, and night clubs, and range from trash to the realm of pornography.
Ventizslavova has composed and confident teens and young adults step into the picture. Like model pupils reciting their memorized lessons, they halter, stutter, stammer, and rattle off chalga slogans into the camera. They gaze directly and yet distantly into the lens: a young man standing between parked cars dryly recites: “I just want a Ferrari in red, and I want a million in green…and I want a chick a day,” thus exposing the content of chalga as hard, crude facts.
In her critical position with regard to chalga, the artist refrains from including any accompanying, thumping beats. The nearly lyrical images underlie the street atmosphere of the capital Sofia, where weeds in the cracks of the concrete, the rundown parking lots, and reflections of dirty rain puddles offer a stage for Ventizslavova’s young protagonists.
It is estimated that at least 80 per cent of all Bulgarians know at least one chalga text by heart. Borjana Ventizslavova carries out a sober, poetic game with collective memory and pop culture, which serves as metaphor for Bulgaria’s transition from socialism to turbo capitalism.
(Petra Erdmann) Translation
Born 1976, Sofia, BG, currently based in Vienna and Sofia; graduated in visual media art / digital art at the University for applied arts Vienna. She works in the fields of film/ video, photography, installation and new media. Her works have been exhibited internationally in solo and group shows as well at film and media art festivals.
It’s so beautiful // 2001
Wishes for fishes // 2002
Es war schon immer dunkel draußen. // 2005/09
Fokus Pokus €uromatik // 2005/06
Hohe blaue Gebirge, Flüsse und goldene Ebenen // 2009