Media > Interviews

An applied artist and a photographer make dolls with souls

Classmates Tanya and Martinmeet again after 18 years and rediscover each other with a joint exhibition

Two classmates meet again after 18 years and resume their relation. Applied artist Tanya spent some of her life in Spain. After returning to Bulgaria, she worked as a gallery curator at the Gaya Gallery. It was there that she started making her unique dolls.
Retired photographer Martin, who lives in Prague, came to Sofia on a business trip. There, he met Tanya, and she introduced him to her model dolls, who enjoy going for a walk and posing for pictures. Martin did not miss the chance to capture them in all sorts of everyday situations. One day, the two had the following talk:
Martin: Your dolls are really pretty.
Tanya: You've taken really pretty pictures of them.
Martin: Shall we stage an exhibition?
Tanya: Let us.
Tanya's dolls, taken for a walk through Martin's objective, are a permanent presence in the Gaya Gallery.

A bit of background
Tanya Zamfirova graduated from 8th High School, in a class with extensive English language studies. She made her breakthrough as an applied artist. She's been creating mostly jewelery and accessories. During a trip to Spain, she began selling her decorations in the streets and in stores.
Q: A bit about your dolls?
A: I make them out of household cleaning wire. I also use plastic balls of all colors. No two are alike, as they express different states and spaces.
Q: You started doing this because...
A: Of my love for the material.
Q: The things you could never put up with?
A: I try to put up with almost everything. Sometimes one has no choice. Still, it's a good thing taking a stance and holding it.
Q: What defines an artist is...
A: Her love of nature.
Q: Beauty will save the world because...
A: It can fill or rob it, bring meaning to it or render it meaningless.
Q: Your day begins with...
A: The hormone of happiness.
Q: You try not to...
A: Rely on my personal opinion completely.
Q: Your mentor? A: Darth Vader, who carried all the burden of Star Wars on his fragile shoulders.
Q: Original ideas are born...
A: Before advertisements.
Q: Education is...
A: A necessary process.
Q: An artist's personal life involves suffering because...
A: The artist has defined herself as one. Suffering can be a very useful thing.
Q: The way you and Martin complement each other in this exhibition and beyond?
A: Things happen easily.
Q: In your line of work, you'd change...
A: Things are organized quite nicely, and there are all sorts of opportunities for self-fulfillment. I believe everyone's work depends on the artist herself. I'm a realist.>
Q: Your principles are...
A: To be more careful with the world around me. To not go too far in my self-assessment.
Q: You maintain your physical and spiritual shape by...
A: Loving life and everything that happens to me and around me.
Q: Reality in Bulgaria right now is..,
A: This country is becoming the land of filling one's face.

A bit of background
Martin Mladenov has been professionally doing photography for many years. At present, he takes pictures only now and then. Tanya's dolls are definitely worth it, so he decided to dust off his camera. The idea is to preserve them, have them travel around and finally find the people who would complement them. Once I saw how photogenic they are and how fine the pictures turn out, Tanya and I decided to hold an exhibition, he explains.

Other than that, Martin has graduated in chemistry, statistics and quality assurance, and currently is employed in international trade. He knows Tanya from high school. He lives between the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
Q: Your meeting was... A: Entirely positive and very pleasant. People are no more similar than dolls. Each one is an individual. Tanya is fond of her dolls and puts much of herself into them. They are awfully honest, which is probably what makes them pretty to look at and capture on film. Our common work was very enjoyable, with no arguments on the concept and aesthetics of the project. We get on very well and see the things we do in a very similar way.
Q: To you, art is... A: Nothing. Trade. Q: What can embarrass you? A: Primitive behavior, primitive manners and most of all, primitive thinking.
Q: You draw your artistic energy from... A: My interaction with this world. With the people who are part of it, and the events that take place. In the dolls made by Tanya, I saw something very original, something I hadn't seen before. It struck me that we may hold an exhibition with their photos, and have the dolls themselves take part in it. It turned out they're quite photogenic, and things happened easily.
Q: Your recipe for success is... A: I don't have one. However, success can be provoked when we are serious about what we do. We must work conscientiously and treat others honestly.
Q: The reforms you would introduce are... A: Art should entail success, including financial one, otherwise it dies. Unfortunately, in recent years, non-market thinking has been prevailing in Bulgaria, where artistic products have been offered not to the end user, allowing him to make a personal decision whether this is the art he needs; instead, state committees of so called doyens have been popping up. These are directly linked to the public budget and nepotist practices. Things have become so distorted over the years that now we basically have a perpetuum mobile driven by people with rather obsolete notions of how to go about art.
Q: You're now working on... A: My book, PVC. The story closely resembles the society we live in. A demigod arrives, an alien, does certain things, wins certain elections, forms a certain government, does some jobbery, and leaves. The book's already been written in Czech, and is to be published in Bulgarian.
Q: The rules of life... A: We must get our success relying on our own efforts and playing decently.


Published on 21.06.2008 . Newspaper 'Novinar'