Daniel Bozhkov

Daniel Bozhkov, Music Not Good For Pigeons, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal 

Daniel Bozhkov, Music Not Good For Pigeons, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal 

Daniel Bozhkov (b.1959, Bulgaria) often characterises his site-specific works as ‘situation retrievals’. Created after months of research and engagement with a particular location, his projects draw attention to unusual coincidences and reveal hidden strains of meaning. To unearth instances of surprising proximity he spends a great deal of time with a variety of people, learning first-hand about their personal history, experiences and practice, and sharing his own stories and expertise in exchange for new skills. Bozhkov’s work acquires its form in a process of social anthropology. Appropriate means are decided along the way – painting, photography, film or interventions on the city street. He has even developed a new eau de cologne and a type of bread as ways to engage with specific situations and sites.

For Touched, Bozhkov examined his memories of the Liverpool he first visited in 1986 as a sailor when he knew it as the home of the Beatles, an historic trading port and a place where local left-wing politicians had stood up to the policies of Margaret Thatcher. Bozhkov clearly remembered seeing his first homeless person on that brief seven-hour visit, a memory confusingly muddled with Bulgarian Communist propaganda that taught him that homelessness was a social plague of the West.

On his second visit nearly 25 years later, Bozhkov investigated the discrepancies between what caught his attention then and in 2010. Merging the phenomenon of online culture with football, music and politics, his reflection is darkly humorous, poignant and timely. The main structure of Bozhkov’s installation was a replica of the dressing rooms of Liverpool Football Club. When he visited the Anfield stadium, the artist was struck by how humble and austere these spaces were. At the centre of the structure is a projection of a music video that presents the half-forgotten, but still controversial, history of Militant Tendency – a Trotskyist group within the British Labour Party, which played a crucial role in Liverpool City Council’s struggle against the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher between 1983 and 1987.

Bozhkov interviewed several of these former Militant Tendency councillors, and then painted a series of frescoes inside the cells of the recently closed Somerset County Jail in Skowhegan, Maine, recounting chapters of Militant’s story. These frescoes appeared in a music video along with Bozhkov taking 107 voice lessons in Liverpool, learning how to sing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Performed in collaboration with local musicians and bands, in a style changing from bluegrass to punk to Socialist and anti-Fascist songs, Bozhkov provocatively suggested that the message Lennon embedded in the song could be viewed through a more specific local political lens.

Daniel Bozhkov at Liverpool Biennial 2010

Music Not Good for Pigeons, 2010 

Benches, massage table, football players’ shirts, music – video projection, YouTube video, monitors, soft toys
Commissioned by the Bluecoat and Liverpool Biennial 2010
Exhibited at the Bluecoat

Supported by

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Daniel Bozhkhov
The Andrew Kreps Gallery