BFW in partnership with the National Gallery presents the exhibition “Needles in a Haystack”

  •  July 5, 2023

Opening: May 30th, from 6 PM, at The National Gallery – The Palace 

Artists: Boryana Petkova & Iskra Blagoeva, Boryana Rossa, Katya Dimova, Krasimira Butseva, Monika Popova, nada ree, Natalia Jordanova, Neda Milanova, Oksana Kazmina, Rayna Teneva, Sophia Grancharova, Zelikha Shoja  

Curator: Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva  

The exhibition presents the results from BFW’s open call with the theme “State of Emergency” under the framework of the second edition of BFW’s initiative — Fund for Art Projects by Women Artists, which aims to bring forward the conversation about the representation of women in the art world and their unequal access to financial resources. 

Curated by Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva, “Needles in a Haystack” brings together 13 women artists coming from diverse cultural contexts, each of whom offers her unique perspectives and creative positions. The female authors and their concepts were chosen among over 200 candidates in the competition. The expert jury evaluating the submissions consists of the curators Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva, Daniela Radeva, Stefka Tsaneva, and Margarita Dorovska, as well as Gergana Kutseva, Dobromira Terpesheva, and Rosena Ivanova from the BFW team.  

“The goal of our Fund for Art Projects by Women Artists is to present a snapshot of the women in Bulgaria’s art scene in this moment of time. Deriving from the negative statistics about the participation of female artists in all formal aspects of the cultural landscape, we want to fill the historical gaps with the perspectives of 13 unique female professionals – their stories, the battles they deal with, the ways they understand the world, themselves and others”, shared Rosena Ivanova, head of the project at BFW and curator. 

“Being a feminist is the only working strategy in the world. And when I say “working,” I mean the one that actually makes (new) things happen, that makes history move forward,” says artist Oksana Kazmina about her motivation to participate in the Women’s Art Projects Fund. 

Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva, the curator of the exhibition had this to say: 

“Invited to respond to the state of emergency, challenges, and urgency in this day and age, the women artists react with varied intensity, character, style, and a great amount of sincerity. Contrasts and similarities between them, in the choice of media, their candor, turning towards their inner selves, and sharing personal stories, experiences, and memories all create a shared environment of empathy and reciprocation. 

What inevitably connects them as women authors is exposing stereotypes about women’s social roles and positions. They are also connected by the needle as a tool chosen by most of them, but also as a byword for that patriarchal image of the woman holding her needlework. An image rooted in the consciousness of generations on end, which all these women defy. 

The story of the needle resembles a woman’s story, as confirmed by many feminist theorists. However, it does not follow a specific linearity, but is ambiguous and controversial, simultaneously a story about isolation, reassurance, and seclusion, but also about interacting with the world and opposition. The needle is the symbol of the skill passed on in the family, over generations, from grandmothers and mothers, knowing what it is to be a woman, the natural attraction towards the warmth of the fabric, and intimate interaction. The process of embroidery and sewing is storytelling. It encompasses the whole patience for bringing the threads together and passing on memories and messages. The needle as a means to create and to mend, as one of the symbols of the coziness, of childhood memories, is fragile, but sharp. 

The artist Louise Bourgeois writes that needles are never aggressive. But somehow pain is also present in them. They are like a generalized image of women – splendidly sophisticated and simultaneously strong and skillful. Their fulfillment is often linked with hardships and proving themselves, literally going through the eye of a needle. To discover a female leader, a woman in politics, or a female artist in a museum is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The general understanding of feminist issues, delving deeply into women’s problems, and the female presence and participation in social life fully match this phrase. 

The needle or the pen are the symbols of century-long role opposition. The tools destined for the particular sex to express themselves have been in an eternal war. Women, however, have the power and the confidence to use what they have been given in order to demolish this stereotype and to be both sentimental and equally analytical and prickly. Like a needle tip. 

Female artists coming from different cultural contexts, belonging to other generations, with different experiences, are linked here on various levels – literally through the line passing along their bodies, the deftness of their hands, the experience, the knowledge of their family or our shared history, the journey, becoming one with nature, emigration, alienation, mother-daughter relationships. These are the stories of women who are diversion in the museum, needles in a haystack. All pieces in the exhibition were created in 2023 with the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women and this is the first time they have been exhibited in front of an audience.” 

We invite you to the National Gallery, The Palace, 1 “ Knyaz Aleksandar Batenberg” Sq. from 30 May to 16 July 2023. 
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday – from 10:00 to 18:00 
Tickets – 6 lv. (for school, university students, and pensioners – 3 lv.) 
Contact us: + 359 2 980 00 93, e-mail: 

More information: 

The Fund for Artistic Projects by Women was made possible thanks to the trust and financial support of Veronika Puncheva, Lachezar Tsotzorkov Foundation, Legrand, Ubisoft, ALD Automative, as well as with the logistical support of the Institute for Contemporary Art – Sofia, Credo Bonum Gallery, and Goethe-Institut Bulgaria. The opening event is hosted by Freixenet – the most famous cava that will bring us the taste of Barcelona. 
Design: Viktoriya Staykova 

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