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Images - Transformation/Disappearance
The Original/The Print/The Copy: Installations Of Nadezhda Lyahova

By Angel Angelov

In 1999, Nadezhda Lyahova had three exhibitions and a performance where the objects were masks made of various materials [1]. The masks had the peculiarity of being casts from the artist's face. Contemplating on the relation between face, mask, print and material seems relevant to the exhibitions.

The first exhibition titled "Soapy Reflections" was displayed in the three halls of ATA Center for Contemporary Art (3-14.02.99). In the first hall, twelve cylindrical tin vessels with porcelain lids were placed on a table covered with violet velvet. In them, there was "100% diluted author's soap", as the writing said (photograph 1)Immagine 1. Some wire ending in a circle was fastened to the vessels so the "hundred-per-cent" author's soap could be blown out into bubbles. The authenticity of the product was certified, consolidated by the initial letters (resembling a seal) and the artist's signature. The "author" dematerialized in splashing, glossy soap bubbles, disappeared without a trace. The signature and the seal remained. Nadezhda Lyahova did not call herself an artist, but an author - reflected, resembled, dissolved, washed out. In the English translation (on the back side of the vessel), the word was "author" ". perhaps the swap in the words author/ artist was accidental but it calls for reflection. Did Nadezhda Lyahova announce the drama in the situation of the disappearing, disappeared author/ work?" [2] .

Even if the replacement of "artist" with "author" was accidental, this was the word and we have grounds to ask why it was the one that was preferred and chosen? The difference could be in the generalization - authorImmagine 2 (the word has replaced the general Medieval word "artist" in today's language) is a supra-generic notion for creator. The author made masks after her own image but she also transformed herself in 100% author's soap, so that we would not perceive her transformation 100% seriously. But could I truly say that the masks were her face, her faces? The artist made a plaster cast of her face. She used that cast to make 24 masks of the handmade ("author's" - here in the meaning of craft) soap. The masks were displayed in rectangular metal tubs on the floor of the second hall; as they were made of soap, they gradually (time is a continuum) washed away. From the plaster cast (the positive one), the negative one was made, and it was used to produce another 16 masks that looked like positives, as if the author (the original?) had printed her face on each and every one of them, leaving its light on.

". the author, who has dissolved herself into an attractive liquid this time, is dematerializing", disappearing without a trace. Another variant of memento mori. Alongside the tragic and the epic, a kind of musical comedy, a candid joke was being offered.And all three were soapy. ("Soap opera" comes to mind inevitably.) If we conjure the meaning of "opera" as an action/series of actions that lead to an accomplished goal, as something that was completed in its form, we could also read "Soapy Reflections" as a completeness that is an end in itself both in terms of items (forms) of soap that could be used, and as a "soap opera" whose mass usage, impractical though, was being suggested by and was made possible because of the chosen material. To sum up briefly, contemporary art "does not define itself" synonymously as art, it merges/distinguishes elements of behaviors/practices among which aesthetics is only one, not necessarily defining or strongly depending on the frame, which "refers" to what is within as art. Thus, discussing the issue of the notion of art, it discusses itself.

Whereas we could answer the question "Who is the author?" empirically by pointing to him/her, without solving the theoretical issue, it would be more difficult to answer the question "Where is the author?" when he/she seems to be present directly (printed) in the work. The author is the outside artifex that is present in the work through some similarities - her own but not tantamount to her, however the similarities are "authors" (the positive cast of the negatives) of other images-similarities. The latter, according to the solution of the artifex, are more lasting than their "authors".

Distinguishing between original and copy begins to seem insecure to me, the technique of making casts preserves some traces and deletes others. I know this is the artist's face but I am not sure I would recognize it without knowing it. The mechanically resembled does not seem to call for reference, does not refer to what it has come from. The resemblance is at the same time differentiation. I would rather ask myself about the presence of the mask than only or even so much about its origin. Despite the title of the exhibition "Soapy Reflections", I should not think along the line of what is reflected in what. "Reflections", even in the plural, can be a word that is overloaded with meanings and ideology. "Reflections" makes associations with water, mirrors, surfaces, possibly smooth, slipping of the reflected, transience. It causes associations with distance, the immateriality of the reflected. The title could refer to the washed away author's soap, but only to it. It should be improper to call the relief prints "reflections" because of their immateriality and the cloudy lye into which they are transformed. By changing the material of the print, a shift is accomplished - a relation that does not happen with the reflecting surface, it does not adopt the form of the reflected [3].
The reflection (Nadezhda and Narcissus)

Let me briefly dwell on the difference between reflection and print (likeness) by using the story/myth about Narcissus, the way it was told by Ovid and Pausanias.

When Narcissus eliminated the distance between his image and its reflection by touching the water with his face, the distance disappeared and the image went away with it, the water rippled and broke the reflected into pieces. However, the longing remained, it did not disappear with the covered distance, his difficulty with his passion for himself was not solved. The salvation is possible not as deletion but as extension of the distance - up to losing his own image from sight; or as a passion for another face - both unachievable for Narcissus. Narcissus' face is a metonymy of integrity, enraptured by its reflected self. The general paradox upon which the story is built comprises various details - in this case, the simultaneity of shapelessness and fixed contour - Narcissus' image on the water surface was cut like chiseled Paros marble. Certainly, we can think about Alexandrinian influence (getting petrified because of amazement) but also about the Roman practice of sculpting, creating firm outlines. However, the presence in a definite social environment considered eternal, is a characteristic that is contrary to the out-social transience of Narcissus' reflection.

Immagine 4Narcissus rejected the love of many young women and men - of any otherness (in terms of body, voice and image) and difference compared to his own self. When the nymph Echo fell in love with him, some of his words, of his voice came back to him faded/reflected. But were they the same? "Come here", "Let's meet here", Narcissus called out but those were just exclamations whose source and goal was he himself because upon seeing Echo (someone outside himself), he drove her back [4]. "Coeamus" (let's get together/meet/have an intercourse is the word in the text) [5]. The play of words clarifies the impossibility of Narcissus havingImmagine 5 an erotic/sexual relationship with someone else. This is why the sex of the people who are in love with him makes no difference. Any bodily pressing to him - hetero or homo-erotic - would be impossible. As well as any attempt to reinterpret in one direction only (of hetero or homo-erotic) would mean pleading a one-sided cause. The inexplicitness (the non-choice, the existence outside the roles) is emphasized by additional detail: Narcissus was 16 years old and looked like a man and a boy at the same time. (III, 350-1 "Namque ter ad quinos unum Cephesius annum/Addiderat poteratque puer iuvenisque videri:"). "Intercourse" with himself is the impossibly desired, that would contrast Narcissus' image to the one of Hermaphroditos (IV, 382 and ff.). Because of all that, it seems appropriate to define Narcissus' story as paradoxical (as a desire for) - existence in insolubility.

Immagine 6Ovid developed the story on the paradoxical, placing it after the part on Tiresias. Tiresias (before being blinded by Hera and before having acquired his prophet's gift from Jupiter) had been a woman for seven years - he had gotten to know the love passion of "both Venuses" (III, 324 ". venus huic erat utraque nota") [6]. Tiresius lived with the awareness of duality - of sex (man and woman) and of sight (blind, seeing), and Narcissus was the first he prophesized about. Thus, the placing of Narcissus' story after Tiresias' one seems like the "natural" course of events. The topic of duality (reflected and reflecting) and coincidence (with his own image) proves to be a topic of knowledge. To the mother's question whether the child will live till maturity, fortune-teller Tiresias replied: "If he didn't (wouldn't) get to know himself" (III, 348 ". si se non noverit"). Getting to know one's own self is presented as a characteristic of sight - seeing/ recognizing one's own image. "One's own self", seen as a mirror reflection, is the knowledge of death. "Not a single prophecy in Antiquity was mentioned more often" than "get to know yourself", worded in (the most famous) Delphi oracle of Apollo. Then the story of Narcissus was namely the experiencing of the paradoxical, an attempt in the field of insolubility. Or "his own self" should be practiced through a different understanding - of the non-reflection, of asymmetry.

III, 418 and ff.

Spellbound he saw himself, and motionless
Lay like a marble statue staring down.
He gazes at his eyes, twin constellation,
His hair worthy of Bacchus or Apollo,
His face so fine, his ivory neck, his cheeks
Smooth, and the snowy pallor and the blush,
All he admires that all admire in him,
Himself he longs for, longs unwittingly.[7]

It is impossible to speak about Narcissus without mentioning his reception in European culture. It is the reinterpreting assimilation that guarantees the classic nature of the image. I would like to mention some of the assimilations.

The topic of temptation and the choice of reason over remaining in insolubility (fate) is Milton's reception in "Paradise Lost". In book IV, 457-69 Narcissus is transformed into Eve. This is Eve's first monologue, taking up the topic of temptation/knowledge/relationship between the self and the other. How soothing is Milton's solution, unlike Ovid's insolubility, causing anxiety and confusion. What would happen if Eve behaved like Narcissus, if she did not hear the voice (of reason, of God)? But her desire to hear is also her choice, not inescapability or fate. The Reason, the norm that rationalizes the paradox, is Salvation. "Had not a voice thus warned me: "What thou seest/ What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself: With thee it came and goes"(IV, 467-69). Milton developed a similar situation out of the original creation but he solved the issue of knowledge by referring to otherness: knowledge would become available through Adam's body. She is his image but she is not himself (Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy IV, 472). The image is a likeness, it is not a reflection and this is why it is not death either. The image that is knowledge of the self, understood as a reflection, is arrogance that is unforgivable and hence punishable. The aspiration for complete coincidence with oneself is called "biased loftiness"; as Ovid said, because of it, Narcissus drove back the love of others. This is why Nemesis, goddess of retribution, punished him to fall in love with himself. In another variant (also in Ovid), Narcissus kept on looking at himself in the waters of the Styx after his death. This is the topic of the punishment of eternity, which can also be found in contemporary literary works but we are not going to deal with it here. The topical ethic issue of cloning can also be studied in the Antique hybris.

The sameness of the face, neck, shoulders (pars pro toto for the whole body) of Narcissus and his reflection is reinterpreted in homoerotic reception as the sameness of the sex, the same and yet the other of the body. Such a reception "rakes up" the desires (the reasonability is left to the prevailing heteroerotic environment) and at the same time it tames them, rendering the image of desire and the environment more aesthetic so that even the outer space (the exterior) is often transformed into a decorative interior. The topic of Narcissus is developed as a combination of naturalness/ simplicity and sensitivity rendered super aesthetic. The paradox is reduced at the expense of aesthetics. The intention is not the impossible transposition in one's own but the staging of the same and different body as the one recognizing the reading/ seeing ones [8].

Immagine 7In his critical philosophy (based on the utopian, imaginary as the forces for the transformation of historic reality), Herbert Marcuse interprets the images of Narcissus and Orpheus as opportunities for liberation from the "repressive civilization of productivity", as non-repressive erotic attitude to the world, as images of the "Great Refusal" to accept and a chance to overcome the division between the libidinous object/subject, a refusal whose goal is the "linking of what has been separated". To H. Marcuse, the image of Narcissus is also a protest against the "repressive order of child-bearing sexuality".  Using an analytical and at the same time, mythological and poetic course of thought, Marcuse reinterpreted "archetypal Narcissism" as "a unity with the universum. beyond any unripe auto-eroticism" [9].

I would search for an interpretation that can keep (and even reinforce) the indefiniteness of the image, including elements which Ovid did not mention: for instance, that "the narcissus is a flower laid upon the dead" [10], that it was used namely in a floral motif in the myth of the ravishment of Percephone - an interpretation referring to the chtonian aspect in the image of Narcissus. A similar discussion on the opportunities/directions to remain within the paradoxical seems to involve the texts dedicated to the image/story of Narcissus by Paul Valery [11].

Before the attitude, the glance, the otherness.

What can be read in Narcissus' enchantment with his own reflection? Narcissus sees his face reflected in the water of a spring (III, 407-12), untouched by any shepherds or goats, by any other animal or bird, by any beast whatsoever, not even troubled by a fallen sprig - the chance that the crystal water of the spring is changed by a living creature is eliminated by enumeration. "Not troubled by a fallen sprig" reinforces the originality/the virginity. The spring is the impossible purity, it comes before any possible relation - event,  a more of nature, an exemplary non-change. The spring is hidden, as it should be, surrounded by thick shrubbery and lush grass that does not let the sun heat through. The spring water is also optical perfection - when Narcissus bends over the water, his image will be outlined on the surface, clear, not blurred by any gleams. The spring is a natural mirror. Certainly, the description of the spring is a topos of locus amoenus, a "description of idyllic beauty" but as is often the case in "Metamorphoses", here again, the idyllic atmosphere is the contrast of the future event: the death of Narcissus, Diana's chasing away the nymph Callisto, the shame of Diana and the nymphs, exposed naked before the glance of Actaeon  (II, 455 and ff., III, 155 and ff.). In "Metamorphoses", the beauty of nature is a notice of transition towards a kind of misfortune. The transition to misfortune is done through a kind of attitude, which makes it impossible to stay in the identical state of naturalness, in the idyllic. "Beauty is awesome". None of the descriptions of loca amoena in "Metamorphoses" is so detailed as the one with Narcissus.

We can imagine that Narcissus breaks an unspoken ban - he penetrates into a space that is unaware of culture or attitude. Seeing his image, he creates an attitude and a distance, doubles himself towards and at the same time into himself - an attitude that cannot be either overcome or solved. The sound image of the distance which cannot be covered, is presented through the voice of Echo who gives back some of the spoken as the same. And yet, the distance between their bodies - hers and the one of the speaking Narcissus - remains. The meeting of the voices (of the words "come" and "let us meet") is not a meeting of the bodies, those words are not performed, the meeting, the attitude are brought to nothing. The other body is not an echo. In the composition of the episode, the unfulfilled relationship between Echo and Narcissus is just a notice of the other - the impossible intercourse of Narcissus with himself. Echo is the image of something that cannot begin, cannot distinguish, cannot articulate anything different, she is the reverberation/the echoing of the same. Once punished by Hera to exist on the border of the natural and the cultural, suffering for Narcissus, Echo turns into a voice and bones/stones, disappears from culture, identifies herself with nature: life as a rock, insusceptibility to change, impossibility for a relationship - Echo presents the direction of regressive transformation.

Similar and different is the transformation of Narcissus into a flower. The coincidence with oneself would be full closing, an ideal (natural) identity, to coincide with the image one has of oneself, be the self that one perceives oneself to be. Identity as doubling, reflection, is impossible. III, 450 "I love him, I see him, but whoever I love and see, escapes". The longing to eliminate the difference, the glance, the interpretation cannot be fulfilled. The image (III, 430-30) of Narcissus is a portrait one - the face, the head and the neck (this is the usual Roman practice of the symbol preservation/reinforcement of the human through images, which probably began with imagines maiorum) [12].In other cases, the body, but not the face, is changeable: this happens with the sculptures in full size where different heads were mounted and changed on the same body. I wonder if it is proper to ask myself about distinguishing of essence and image or the image covers both without distinguishing them because everything here is surface, smoothness (water) and inaccessibility (light) and at every attempt to go beyond the image, to penetrate into the essence, the image disappears (as well as the essence sought beyond). Narcissus' attempt at an intercourse with himself is unachievable, once the distance is established.

In his "Description of Greece", IX, 31, 7-8, Pausanias offers a variant of the story where Narcissus falls in love with his twin sister, which is a rationalizing reinterpretation: the assumption of minimal otherness is introduced - despite being twins (as they are not Siamese twins), they have different bodies, despite wearing the same clothes, having the same hair and looking very much alike (IX. 31, 7), the one is not a reflection of the other. The short interpretation of Pausanias is along the line of sanity: it is absolutely foolish to imagine that someone who is grownup enough to fall in love cannot distinguish between a person and his/her reflection. It would be interesting to know from what age on, Pausanias considered proper for one to fall in love. I wonder if to Pausanias the meaning of the myth is not lost because of (purposeful) unwillingness to perceive the paradoxical, emanating a threat? Then his wish would be to render the facts causing concern in the story of Narcissus safe. According to Pausanias, Narcissus is aware that he sees his reflection, but in order to find some comfort after his sister's death, he imagines that he sees her likeness reflected in the water. I guess Pausanias uses the word likeness and not reflection, to signify the difference in the sameness. Falling in love with your sister looks less threatening than falling in love with yourself. Despite the safety measures taken to control the meaning, Pausanias' interpretation closes one and opens (involuntarily) another insolubility - of the male female as closed within the likeness, which brings us back to the story of Hermaphroditos (Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV, 285-388). The likeness is not the same indeed, it is not a reflection, but it is the other/same, which with Hermaphroditos is closed in a single body. However, as a "positivist", Pausanias cannot but "exhaust" the available material and he announces at the end of par. 8 that the flower narcissus existed even before the story of Narcissus, if we can judge by the poems of poet Pamphos who was born long before Narcissus. In his poems, Demetra's daughter - Chora Percephone was taken away while she was picking flowers, and the flower she was enticed with was not a violet but a narcissus. Unlike Pausanias, who tries to fix one meaning and looks for a single reasonable explanation, Vergil gets the narcissus and the violet closer, along with other flowers in the duality of beauty/death. In a similar manner, Ovid describes the spring where Narcissus will see his reflection as the locus amoenus of a stalking threat. In Vergil's second eclogue, into the general catalog of creatures and objects, filling up the world of the shepherd, a word still life of flowers and colors is "weaved", and they smell sweet and suggest beauty/death. If I stick to another tradition of naming, I would say that in the general genre scene of the second eclogue, a part of the imagery/story is dedicated to the "still life" of flowers and fruits. (II, 45-55). Here is the excerpt:

huc ades, o formose puer: tibi lilia plenis
ecce ferunt Nympae calathis, tibi candida Nais,
pallentis violas et summa papavera carpens,
narcissum et florem iungit bene olentis anethi;
tum casia atque aliis intexens suavibus hedrbis,
mollia luteola pingit vaccinia caltjha.
Ipse ego cana legam tenera lanugine mala
castaneasque nuces, mea quas Amaryllis amabat;
addam cerea pruna: honos erit huic quoque pomo;
et vos, o lauri, carpam et te, proxima myrte,
sic positae quoniam suavis miscetis odores. [13]

I think the photograph of shepherd Alexis with this still life would be stimulating because of the intimate differentiation between the masculine and the floral, of the bodily blooming, emanating melancholy through its ecstasy because of the inevitable "ubi sunt.?" But we could achieve the same suggestion by collaging elements of paintings by Caravaggio, where "la natura morta" is not only a decoration but also a "character": Boy with grapes (Roma, Galleria Borghese), Boy with a basket full of fruit (Roma, Galleria Borghese), Boy with a vase with flowers (private collection, USA), Bacchus (Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi), Basket full of fruit (Milano, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana), Cittern player (St. Petersburg, Hermitage), all from the early period of the artist. And certainly, we should add Narcissus (1609, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Roma).

Or, if we want to stay in the classical period, we should think about David (by Donatello) with a head reminding one of Antinous, and a body referring to the nudity of the Greek ephebes, because Antinous is the one who takes his life to avoid aging - the transforming disappearance of youth/nature [14]. Sometimes Donatello's bronze statue is reproduced only in the detail of the head, neck and shoulders - as a bust, so as to be almost felt that "despite the sharper Florentine accent" (K. Clark), David looks like Antinous or a Greek god (Mercury). That would lead to a random but not weaker impact of the young man's figure. We could think that Antinous/Mercury does not look at Golyath's cut head but at himself, sees himself, and that explains his slight smile. If we go on looking for grounds for the power of the impact the fragment has [15] against the meaning of the whole, we can claim that this "bucolic" shepherd does not quite look like a winning warrior. It is also significant that we ask ourselves which is the whole - the statue as a detached self-concentration (as it is the first free nude figure in bronze after Antiquity) or the environment and the situation (and after that, the environment of reception) that the statue was initially meant for. The first mention was made in an announcement on the wedding of Lorenzo de Medici in 1469 but the year of creation is not certain, it is somewhere between 1430 and 1453, respectively the purpose is not certain either. If we think that the whole and the fragment are replaceable and unstable values, the perception of the detail as a whole would be permissible. Such an approach provides an opportunity to make links whose grounds cannot be obvious, it should be substantiated each time: the context, the facts and the interpretation, the interaction altogether  (the created discourse) would be a result of gratuity that can be verified.

We cannot interpret (perceive) the next David by Verrocchio in a similar manner. (1465/1475, Firenze). It has Donatello's David as a model to equal/overcome. He remains within the framework of small-size sculpture and the same material (bronze); the young man's figure looks like a warrior, without giving us the chance to recognize it as different - his tunic looks like chain armor, his glance, the expression on his face do not suggest a confused smile at himself/the ones present at the happening, while Verrocchio's David looks at us, the witnesses of triumph. Finally, the reproductions of Verrocchio's David present him in full size and thus deprive us of the chance to think of him as a fragment, and this fragment - as a whole. Verrocchio's sculpture is more convincing as David, more synonymous. Donatello's figure, with its helmet/hat decorated with a wreath, ribbons (weaved in the hair falling to his shoulders) and a tassel, with the expression on the face and the eyes looking down (to stay within the frames of the bust which Narcissus sees reflected in the water) provides opportunities to be interpreted both as David and as someone else.

Soapy prints

"Known questions and answers are suddenly articulated. Reflection and originality, as well as reproductions and original - can the artist claim originality and which is the original in "Soapy Reflections"?" I am looking for a word to name the (in)dependence of the masks on the face, their (non)reflection, the (un)likeness of the face (with regard to the origin), but even more of one another, to name their own presence. Or shall I think of the exhibition outside the terms of the original and the reflection, shall I think of a likeness without an origin where none gives rise to the rest. Speaking about likenesses seems more relevant to making casts, prints, similar but not the same, changing differently in time: the ones differently dried up; and the others washing away with different speed. (Photographs 2 and 3) In none of the likenesses, has the author made any changes, she has only provided the chance for time to exercise its impact on the material. The masks that have stopped the course of time simultaneously embody the running of a different time - in relation to themselves, not to the face. The author is the original, but the original is missing, the face is the origin of the masks but it is hidden. Hiding, they reveal the author's face, it is forgotten, it disappears. The transition of the face into the mask is hard to trace. I ask myself why it is so hard to compare the masks made of soap, ice, ice-cream and sand to the face of Nadezhda Lyahova. Why do I not recognize her face the way I would recognize it when I see it live, in a (passport) photograph or in other images. She can certify the coincidence, placing the hollow on her face. But what would we recognize then? Another mask.

Forgetting and displaying here are not a matter of choice or interpretation, the shift is mechanical, the soap sticks to and gets unstuck from the mould, then the change of the masks themselves and between their selves is left to time. This is not a process the artist controls, it is not a result of new understanding, of placing the masks in a different context through which the same becomes different. The time that passes by until the masks decompose and turn into soapy lye is not historical time.

In death masks of modernity, the intention is to monumentalize the deceased raising/preserving him beyond time, to overcome the time. Death masks are taken from faces, which can only change into decaying (except in the rarer cases of embalming). The death mask is stiffness, beyond life. The artist's face, its outlines, the face as a map can be a proto-image of masks but we cannot see that face. Owing to the processing - the clear outlines are revealed, not blurred/clarified by the soul - it has been elevated into a scheme of a face. The scheme/mask is the Other face, that has covered the variety, the indefiniteness over which it has placed itself. As it seems, the mask can be a face only as increased individuality, as a stiff, stopped exemplarity. The main difficulty for me to accept the likeness (origin) of the mask and the face lies in the suggestion of life beyond as compared to life history. In the masks - the positive and negative prints - vitality as history appears to be over. Entering what is beyond, which the masks suggest, remains inexplicable/unfathomable. No reference to the technique (the making of the prints) can explain how it happens. The simultaneous presence of the artist next to the masks does not clarify the transition into the life beyond as opposed to vitality and history. Making a death mask out of your face is a symbolic death and as it seems, a chance for rebirth as someone unknown and multiple. But who is reborn? And whose history is terminated?

The masks taken from the artist's face confirm the tendency to use your own body as an object of experimental practices whose purpose is not treatment or beautifying. The body here is limited to the face, almost to the cerebral, to an established (portrait and passport) idea of individuality. However, lately we have been able to think that individuality is constituted socially out of bodily characteristics that are more difficult to control or supervise, and also to replace - the DNA formula, the heartbeat, the blood content. If we do not think along the lines of original and copy, we could fit the masks (the likenesses) within the topical issue of cloning - the reproduction of the same, the circulation which is usual for objects and recently possible for people as well. The topic of the changed mimesis, of the traces cannot be avoided here, even if we want to. The effort of the memory is in the search for traces, prints, in the impossibility to achieve the originality, the archetype, the origin because as it seems, they have not existed. The mould is but one - a form of the desire to be identical to oneself. But it is also off stage and the masks, although cast from the same mould differ through the complicity of the incident, in color and even in form. Each of them sacks, gets washed away - let me repeat the archetype - in the Lethean waters of forgetfulness, of the memory deprived of density. The effort of the memory is in the search for traces, prints, in the reconciliation with the impossibility to achieve the originality, the archetype, the origin maybe because they have not existed. They are signs for faces. The print is an original, and the mask is a face. Which of them shall I choose as mine - the ones that frighten me most? Arranged closely one to another in a rectangular form, the tubs keep the viewer at bay. Why does peering/staring down, especially at water, provoke a feeling of attitude to the past, to time gone by? Whence do I know that blur of outlines and the impossibility to get a clear picture despite the effort, that recovering and losing of images and experiences, if not from dreams and dream-like states of remembering, which the exhibition "recalls". The masks will wash away in the water, col tempo, will mingle into opaque lye - without a past, without a memory, in the darkness of "Alzheimer". Now I am able to add certain density to the loose sense in the first hall - of a threat coming from forgetfulness and desolation. I doubt whether I am able to construct my own life story without any showiness or self-ideology, the memory is the last effort to recognize myself, without being able to say exactly who I am.

Let me however try to mollify the sense of death, adding/replacing time with a possible space aspect. So much effort has been made in Europe to transform time into history that experienced time is being transformed into coercion to history. If I look upon the masks as islands naturally surrounded by water, the effort will be not so much along the line of past and time than moving on relief ground.  The memory will be the mapping of topical movement, not remembering the comfortable or the necessary. Instead of someone' s face story that is subject to ideologies, constantly threatened by prescriptions - imposed from the outside or self-imposed and made sacred prescriptions for explaining what has happened, I will have sensations - sounds (the ear), images (the eye), smells (the nose), touches (the mouth) of a mask or all together in a rushing syncretism. "On the fifth day after the opening, the homemade soap smell was descending in the void of "ATA" - slight on entering, getting denser and more haunting in the center, dispersing at the far end. The smell seemed to place the emphasis, the culmination point in the three-component exhibition. On the fifth day, the casts were gone too far in getting washed away - distorted, misshapen, with swollen sides, with changing grimaces. Simulating the sinister process of flesh rotting, having strong visual as well as olfactory effects."

Memory will be a presence on a spot in the map that changes with the movement. Memory will also be time of non-history, the stimulating presence of remembering now will be significant for it, not the knowledge or the documents certifying the existence of things that have happened. What will be significant is the space of "I am now", outside it, memory will be enveloped by the forgetfulness of non-presence. I guess that if I say - enveloped by the soapy lye of forgetfulness, it will suit the material better.

In the third hall, on a shelf along the walls, are arranged like jars or, if we prefer, statues of home gods, the negatives of the cast masks - "absent faces" [16]. Hollows which absorb and emit light so that the concave and the convex start mingling and increasing the mystic and dream-like suggestion from the previous hall. Unlike the masks, the hollows do not resist me, I wonder which of them would be the mould of my face whose individuality is only a new "reflection of the reflection". The soapy masks there that served as original will get washed away in the water, and the reflection here will be lasting, washing away in light. The reflected is the most lasting. Memory is light from the disappeared, the saved from forgetfulness is a halo and the like religious metaphors can be applied here. Or even truer is that memory is ghostly and insecure, that we can only partially trust it, it does not restore truths, it creates a feeling of an insecure identity, the only possible one. Its outlines - found time and again, slipping away, are the opposite of the steady "truthfulness" of the document and the archive. The wishes for security, clarity and definiteness as features of the identity received from memory are shaken through the washing away/melting of the soap in water and light.

The hollows are changing under the influence of light. The catching of the light in the object, its changing through it, the elimination of materiality is an attractive peculiarity in Nadezhda Lyahova's works. In "Rest" (1996, Plovdiv) the prints of the steps, going up in the air, are light, traces of light. While in white neon light, the hollows emit distance and coldness. If I cannot stand the deadly whiteness or another color range can help me remember better, we can change the impact through new light, creating a sensation of warmth and closeness. Remembrance means wandering in far-off worlds but doing it because of presence here and now. So as not to stay in the far-off world, we can change the order of the "triptych", start from the central second hall and end up with the violet color of the table and the blowing of bubbles from the washed-away author's soap. The movement across the exhibition stage will be propelled by my effort to have a memory for presence - through it experience in the present. This will be an attempt opposed to the desire to forget whose transforming revelation will not be instrumental for the remembrance as a motive for accusation and revenge, but will have a life in the renovated effort for remembrance, for salvation through memory.

I am concerned with the issue of these masks because they look like prints of an individual and definite face and at the same time, they tend to be abstract and faceless, so why not insert my face in them, as well? And which shall I call mine? These masks/prints are offering me clearly, in images, the anxiety for identity, individuality, definiteness. Does each mask cause such anxiety? Where no definite face has been used for the making of the masks, the problem of likeness and origin does not show with such clarity.

We can look upon the mask as a cover for the essence, as compulsion, forced on the real face, as lack of coincidence between visibility and essence. That direction, which has been tested a lot of times, is still attractive but the exhibition urges me to read the mask rather as a presence that does not differ from the face and makes the use of the two words redundant or synonymous. The mask as a character - as printed/engraved presence, I guess, can be formulated as an anthropological issue (sustainability and interruption) coming before the historical one and related to it. Such an understanding would take us to the materiality (tangibility) of "character", a word that has lost topicality as it seemingly refers to non-changeability whose existence we doubt. The mask as the character of the face means change/disappearance of the previous, stopping/starting of time, covering the distance, the view from the outside, creating a space inside, an attempt at terminating the interpretations, the evaluation placed outside. The mask/character then would mean deletion/engraving of the images as "forces of the soul". The glance, the distance does not sense materiality: dense or loose, soft, porous, smooth or heavy, uneven, but they can harden it into a sculpted image. So even if I am convinced that my face is just an image, cast from outside glances - interpretations, the masks in the exhibition and the washed-away soap make me think in the opposite direction - of independence and concentration from the outside glance. Is the character really sculpted by the outside glance as if by fate? The alien glance/presence is not a "medusa", it can probably petrify but through our complicity of "narcissi". However, it can probably urge to salvation through tribulation, from our own ("as if cut from Paros marble") reflection. The inner images as "forces of the soul" will be the creator. The character would be the applying of masks/faces, engraving/deleting, geo-psychic precipitations/palimpsests, however not under the dictate of an outside glance but rather as a tested, sometimes achieved, independence from it, from circumstances: the character would be a will for impossibility. So even if I do not believe that independence, choice, concentration exist, I would obstinately test them again and again in an ethical aspect. In this way, I would add something to the issue of the ethics of aesthetics...

Physicalities (carnes, carnalitates).

The glance cannot only combine with but can also completely draw back before the sense of smell, taste and touch. The body can be included not symbolically but directly, through swallowing up food within "the aesthetic experiment". At the Apollonia Festival of Arts (September 1999), Nadezhda Lyahova staged the performance "Vanitas" (photograph 4). On the terrace (of the town gallery in Sozopol) overlooking the sea, on a long table were arranged "still lives" - plates with ice-cream masks ("positive casts of the author's face"), and next to them - spoons. The ice-cream is "handmade" as the text under the photograph reads. Does it point to one's own production (trademark) or to the handmade object (the unique item) or to both? Has the master (the author) remained a craftsman as she used to be in her anonymous existence before capitalism or after it, when the brand name was just an emblem for a sort of quality and not for individuality? The soap was also handmade and was not for sale, so what is the point in emphasizing the handmade quality, if not to stress it is unique? Unique also with regard to time, after the action the item disappears, dematerializes, remains as memory and documents that nourish, refute memory. If authorship is emphasized through the transforming return to the craft, to the making, this is at the same time distinguishing from the tendency in contemporary aesthetic practices of artists to assign their works to assistants because they cannot make them themselves, they provide the concept but cannot make the object using their hands, they are not craftsmen. The artist is also a craftsman, Lyahova's objects claim, a craftsman making things with his/her hands.

The atmosphere invites the viewers/guests to partake of the author's "face". The ice-cream masks are trimmed with fruit (like triumphal, funeral wreaths) (photograph 5). On a violet velvet table-cloth, contrasting with the bright colors of the still life and the shine of the silver spoon indicating clearly that a meal will be taken, a fruit - carnal salad is served: we are present at a merry sacrifice. Even the artist can swallow herself, she can partake of her own "face". On the background of the felt/seen infinity of the sea and across it, the still lives are arranged - the finiteness of life. If the ice-cream mask is not eaten up, it will melt. It measures time and it is finite: ars brevis. Ice-cream is of the same order as the sand-glass, the torch, the smoke, the book eaten by the Baroque memento mori, it replaces and represents live flesh, et vita brevis. Right in front of our eyes, in Nadezhda Lyahova's still life "Vanitas" the "tooth of time" tangibly gnaws at and through the ice-cream mask/the imprint of the artist's face until breaking it into shapelessness, similar without being the same (in terms of materiality) to the lye from the decaying soapy masks.

The staging as a whole seems to refer to a certain extent to the Baroque Concordia discors [17], to the corporal, the splendid, to death and (in)finity, to fun. I can choose between several possibilities: abstain from eating because I will fall down to a symbolic cannibalism below a certain civilization threshold and also because (in my view) there is only one ritual where it is admissible that the food (wine and bread) is flesh and blood. However, this is rather too dramatic. I can eat as well, and without going deep into it, I can accept what is being offered as a party, a spectacle, a feast - a little odd but why not? The ice-cream is even homemade, of a special brand, tasty and the fruit - tempting. It is a little disgusting to scoop up from the skull but one can get used to it. By swallowing it, do I swallow the artist herself in a magic way, do I take her character while the mask makes its way into my internal organs? I can go on making associations with the food, death, plenty and simultaneously eat but I can also chat with people at the table, if I don't like ice-cream. The feast presupposes togetherness and joy; (photograph 6) the impact of that togetherness can be stronger than the thought about the meaning of the performance, and vice versa. The mask and the fruit can be a spectacle, a ritual and also art. You can be a viewer, a participant and a gaper too. The offers co-exist.

Shall I say that the ethical aspect becomes possible, stands out when the assimilation is bodily? Not when I "transfer myself inside (sich hineinversetzen, Dilthey)", live through someone's existence (someone's face) although this is so attractive as I do not become him/her, it happens when I remain in my body but change the mask temporarily and alongside it - the character (the existence). Lyahova's masks are impenetrable from the outside - with closed eyes, closed mouth; no glance or voice can go through them. They do not interact or refer to a reality outside themselves. The interaction is still possible but as an introspection towards myself, as an experience/understanding/transformation of the imprint imposed on me by the new face. It is then an image of my face and the face itself. It has defined me from the outside, and I have chosen it as well. What would however be my grounds to make a choice? These masks are images on a borderline, beyond which we are not allowed; however, this side of it is a good position for making transformations. The ethical would be in my refusal to make judgments from a distance, through an interpreting glance or even through feeling into things, but from a distance that can guarantee my safety.

The title "Vanitas" could be accidental, it could differ from the suggestion of the image. Pondering upon the way contemporary artists title their works, I often think they do it at random which gives me the advantage of perceiving the image (object, installation) without the false guidance of the title (this is however another topic). In this case, I find the title appropriate, providing a clue to contexts, at least one. Is it possible that Nadezhda Lyahova's works made in 1999 can be inserted in and come before traditions, setting themselves free from the narrowness of individuality or are these my fantasies? Her previous works  (given their undoubted quality) remained in the domain of the contemporary whereas these allow their placement in the "depth" of time.

"Vanitas" - I can follow this word in its historical complexity (not so much as a given than as a sought meaning), taking up the topic of the reflection in its ambivalence of being enchanted by/knowledge of herself; and yet for the time being remaining within the epoch the artist had in mind. Remaining within the time frames of Baroque is necessary only to mention some similarities/to emphasize some differences. If the artist claims that by the performance "Vanitas" she had in mind the atmosphere and the symbolism of the 17-th century Flemish still lives, then I would do nothing but follow the trace and its ramifications. The context (beyond the disputable unity of space and time) is possible if some forms have influenced others and if some common attitudes can be compared. For the time being, it is sufficient for me that image and words in the performance "Vanitas" are welded together in the suggestion of physicality and splendor.

In early September Sozopol is still crowded with holidaymakers, for most of whom being "at the seaside" has long ago become a habitual festivity. The town space, as an idea at least, is festive in the sense of carelessness and missing obligations, of merriment and looseness, generally, of a sought loose elevation of spirit. The closer environment of the performance is a festival of arts. We can think of art within the framework of the festive only in a twofold manner - as a festive interpretation of existence whose coercion at the moment we do not experience directly. I could imagine my route in Sozopol, along cafes and semi-naked bodies, through dense colors and mingling sounds, careless myself, in Arcadia almost, coming out on the alley leading to the "wine-colored" sea,  "making hundreds of noises", I run into the deadly ice-cream masks, beginning to melt away in the heat.

There is no phosphorescence on them indeed (through an ivy leaf) of "Et in Arcadia ego.", but a form, an island of symbolic death among the carelessness might be the meaning of the performance. It will be a reality within the reality but as its limit, otherwise what would be the other meaning of staging a woman's figure on the background of the sea (the big water) and at the literal limit (the railing) behind the figure, beyond which the other space begins, on the borderline between the two and rather as a transition to it, she looks at us and her liminal peculiarity is confirmed/certified by the ice-cream skulls in front of her, separating her form us. It would be naпve to claim that Nadezhda Lyahova is in the picture. As I do not want to eat from the "skull" and I do not believe in the uniqueness of individual experience, I need models - in this case, Baroque ones. So as I can imagine the space of Sozopol as normatively carefree, and the performance "Vanitas" as its border/threat and to relate their concurrence through the comfortable formula of Concordia discors or to liken all this to a careless fancy of an arcadia. Then I would be in the elegiac tradition - confronted with a symbolic death, through its impact I can fall in contemplation/experiencing physicality or to stiffen in surprise and thus answer the expectations, piecing the frame of the title. With the reservation that I have replaced happiness "le felicita' (pl.)" with carelessness because it seems more appropriate for the described context and my experience. "Vanitas" is the message of the skulls, the images of death, of destruction. Like in "Soapy Reflections", here too, the topic is the "all-consuming time, tempus fugit", but as a borderline and transition [18]. Let us keep our attention on the photograph for a while so as to feel the impact of the lonely figure, stiff in contemplation, on the elegiac, melancholy expression of her face. It is not quite justified to gather in one the states of elegy and melancholy; after all, the presence of the figure in front of the skulls/still lives (arranged on the table without any other ones partaking) is somewhat taken out of any time run, deep in contemplation/experience/thought of the past, but a past that can no longer be defined and that is rather a denial of the temporal, an eternal now, at the same time we are aware that time is already eating through the ice-cream skulls. The woman's figure stands on the borderline between time and its dimension beyond which we cannot experience, even if we can name it, but the contemplation about/on that borderline can influence the behavior here, at this side.

I would not claim that Sozopol is a context of the performance, or that the performance focuses on the rest of the space. That would mean adding a certain advantage  - in terms of meaning, symbols of a given practice - let us call it aesthetic, with regard to others. The two realities along with other possible ones co-exist in the town space.

If "Vanitas" is a general title for transience and mortality, for the images of disappearance, the 100% dissolved author's soap from the exhibition "Soapy Reflections" is one of these images. The power lies in its disappearing tangibility and the fact that it updates a classical tradition, becomes part of it: the wire resembling a child toy, ending in a circle invites us to turn the liquid (the author's soap invites us to) into soapy bubbles. The transience, the disappearance of the author is the leading suggestion. The transition of the elements one into another, the elimination of their solidity, the dissolving of the form in sounds, light, air, water seems to be a key feature of Nadezhda Lyahova's objects and installations - the transformation means becoming lighter. The leading suggestion is most often one of dematerializing/disappearing/desire for the life beyond. (photograph 7 - Rest)

The children who were brought to the opening of the exhibition "Soapy Reflections", as well as some of the adults, (photograph 8, soapy bubbles) had fun blowing the liquid (the essential author herself!) in the air and following the flickering/bursting up of the multi-colored bubbles. This way all of us - viewers and participants, makers of soapy bubbles - fell into the iconography of mortality and melancholy, with some needed changes, though, among them the merriment and joy that replaced melancholy. Melancholy, however, is a state that is hard to accomplish. Which is to confirm that there are no pure and untitled territories, and even the unsuspecting viewers of an exhibition become voluntary participants in a theatrum mundi which is also a theatrum storiae humanae, participants not in a single action but in a scheme where they enter to certainly change it.

If the author belongs to the same synonymous order of artist and creator and presents a basic characteristic of the human, creator of forms, artifex minimus, the main question would be the one about the nature of these forms and also the anxiety about the durability of the human, of the creator and the forms. One of the answers is: "cosa bella e mortal passa e non dura" (Petrarca). The issue of time is denoted - again in an existential manner - with the anxiety about durability. The issue of the author's disappearance and the disappearance of the forms created by her is basic in Nadezhda Lyahova's works in 1999. The question why exactly in 1999 after all, deserves an answer. A soapy bubble - that is what the durability of the human is - of the face and the mask, vanity, etc. cultural memories can mingle here. Time, human time is the main doer in Lyahova's installations in 1999, the disappearance/transformation of the face, its freezing as a "hope" (the name Nadezhda means hope in Bulgarian - translator's note) (photograph 9, frozen hopes), which upon warming up will become part of the circle of elements and who knows whether it will remain a "hope".

So the soapy bubbles are part of a possible context of the delight in creating forms and the melancholy over their transience. "Man is a soapy bubble" is a known iconographic type named "homo bulla" whose origin is believed to be in Antiquity (it can't be any different). This definition was evidenced in Varro and Petronius - "we are no more than soapy bubbles" ("nos non pluris sumus, quam bullae"), which through Erasmus' "Adagia" was received during the Renaissance/Reformation. Initially (during the 1620-es) the comparison appeared in the imagery area as an inscription in the Flemish repetitions of "St. Jeronimus" (by Durer, Lisbon) and only in the second half of the 16-th century through the figure of the cherub blowing soapy bubbles, the translation of the words into images became a fact and was related to other motifs of the complex "vanitas" - smoke, fading flowers, sand-glass, all of them allegories of the shortness of human time. The main development of the type "homo bulla" was carried out in the Dutch still lives of the 17-th century [19].

In an engraving by Hendrik Golzius "Quis evadet?" (photograph 10) of 1594, a boy is depicted blowing soapy bubbles, leaning to a skull which is gnawing at a bone. The beginning and the end of human life are put close to one another, as if childhood breaks down straight into death; without experience, without wisdom that could be brought by the contemplation on death. With a melancholy glance, the child is following the disappearing soapy bubbles mingling with some smoke, coming out of an urn where a statue of a small human figure is placed and its burning causes the smoke. The urn is placed on a cut pillar around which a dried plant without leaves is creeping. Even the pillar, which is usually a symbol of staunchness and durability, does not suggest stability. A broken pillar appears in the images depicting "the hermitage of the wise men" and symbolizes the withering away of paganism, the pre-Christian world; here the pillar supports the general suggestion that there is nothing, which is not subject to time (even the stone/marble is corroded by it). "Who will slip away?" reads the inscription on a broken column, placed on the ground, which can be of no use any more.

The boy is placed in natural surroundings, which are no longer a symbol of life - the grass is thinned out, somehow eaten through and dried, part of the blossoms (front left) are fallen on the dry ground; the image is confined from the left by a steep slope on which the tree can hardly keep and we can almost sense its slow pulling down. Beside the slope and the tree, the outlines of a far-off town can be noticed: both nature and the human world are subject to mortality and destruction.

The transience of nature and the human should convince us that this world has no support in itself. The complexity is due not so much to the fact that the support is somewhere else but to the insecurity about whether such a place exists. The engraving itself does not offer any convincing suggestion of religious beliefs or at least of life after death, it rather urges us to realize how shaken this world is, given the absence of another one that would support it with eternity and meaning. The visual suggestion is reinforced through words - a quatrain - below the image.

A new blossom, smelling sweet of spring with silvery shine
Fades away suddenly, it dies, oh that beauty dies.
Like human life that dies right after birth,
Like a soapy bubble disappearing like smoke. [20]

However, Bialostocki provides another quatrain as an illustration to this engraving: "Why can't we learn to die before the term/shaking off the chains of the enticing body, while still alive,/after death, we travel light/the spirit soars in the sky where it felt bliss even before [21].

This question/recommendation to die/set oneself free voluntarily can be interpreted simply as a refusal to live and through such refusal the motives for that behavior can be sought in the context. Then we could turn either to the very micro-context of the artist and his environment or to the larger counter-reformatory context of that period. Then I would explore the possibility of reading the engraving through the issue of salvation and the loneliness of man who for the first time after Christ was left without any secure spatial, temporal or value landmarks, in a sense, without a God, alone before and in the Universe. The still lives seem to have replaced the home prayer images and instead of the everyday lifting to life after death, they offer a transient but beautiful materiality. The skull does not symbolize the victory over death, on the contrary - the vulnerability of man from time, the iconographic type of the boy who could be a cherub, the Infant, the little John, here does not mean any sanctity or sweet eternal beauty but doom and destruction. The symbolism (the skull, the cherub, nature) of life and faith in the symbols of the human, natural and sacred transience is re-interpreted. Bialostocki also provides another illustration - the comparison of the Earth to a soapy bubble by Petter David in 1610 [22]. In Pascal's Sphere Borges says that Pascal feared the Universe and wanted to pray to God but God was to him less real than the threatening Universe. The pining away of faith, against man's will, the lessening of God's presence as support in human life and the increase of the threatening can be read in many of the Dutch images on the topic of "Vanitas" from the late 16-th and the 17-th century. Life itself grows into a problem.

[1] The exhibitions were titled: Soapy Reflections - casts of soap; New Nadezhdi - casts of ice; Tale Without End - casts of sand; Vanitas - casts of ice-cream.

[2] I have used Irina Genova's article "Tempus fugit. Art is ephemeral" several times without expressly referring to the text but putting the quotations in inverted commas. Cf. I. Genova, "Tempus fugit." - Kultura Weekly, Sofia, March 12, 1999. She helped me have a different "reading" of the exhibition.

[3] I wonder if the regimes of the 20-th century calling themselves socialist preferred the theory of reflection rather than the theory of imitation so as to confine the shift, the change, the history? Erich Auerbach's "Mimesis" followed the changes in the manner of presentation, the images of reality (die dargestellte Wirklichkeit) in European literature from Homer and the Old Testament to Virginia Wolf but not the reverberation of a ready, existing reality. The cover of the Russian edition of 1976 (that was very much in use in this country before) interpreted the title "Mimesis" as a mirror reflection (closed in a Narcissus manner) of two triads of rhombs all in the same (black!) color.

[4] In "Echo's Letters to Narcissus" by Antoniu Felicianu de Castillu (19-th century) Echo enticed Narcissus in a cave; he could not see her in the dark but touching her, he realized hers was not the body he desired, so he ran away. In that variant (of the late Romanticism) the realization/the repulsion of the otherness does not happen owing to the glance but by the body, the sensation. "Like water and thirst are the same." Portuguese classical poetry", Sofia, 1985, p. 156-60 (translated into Bulgarian by S. Hadjikosev)

[5] Although I read again and again the Latin text, the impact and the pleasure to read this one, as well as a number of other episodes, comes as a result of several translations; among which the most significant for me because of the notes by E. J. Kenney is. - Ovid, Metamorphoses, (transl. by J. Melville), Oxford, At the Clarendon Press 1986.

[6] Juno and Jupiter went to wise man Tiresias so as to solve the argument whose love delight is greater - of men or women. Tiresias' punishment that followed is indicative of the insolubility of the argument.

[7] Ovid, Metamorphoses, (transl. by J. Melville), Oxford, At the Clarendon Press 1986.

[8] I would cling to the classic example - O. Wilde, "The Portrait of Dorian Grey" for whose works the aesthetic is only natural. For the view, refer to H. Bryson, The Homo-Erotic Code - Kultura Weekly, issue 32 (August 13, 1999), p. 11, of the photograph - Kant magazine, issue 1/2000, p. 20-1.

[9] Herbert Marcuse, Triebstruktur und Gesellschaft, Schriften B. 5, 1979 Frankfurt am Main, (Suhrkamp Verlag), H. Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, Sofia, 1993, p. 168-181 (transl, by Esther Bodurska, Hristo Botev Publishers). The quotations are from Asen Davidov's translation (p. 60, 61) - In: Herbert Marcuse, The Images of Orpheus and Narcissus - in: Philosophy (students' magazine) 4/1991, p. 56-64, ibid. Asen Davidov, Free Eros: a subversive utopia, p. 49-55.

[10] Mifologia. Iliustrovannii enciklopedicheskii slovar, Sankt Peterburg 1996, p. 496; Der Kleine Pauly, B. 3, S. 1572-74, Mu?nchen 1978.

[11] Valery, Paul, Narcissus - In: Paul Valery, Ocharovania - izbrana poezia I proza, Sofia. 1996 (Colibri Publishers)

[12] Der Neue Pauly. Enzyklopaedie der Antike, Stuttgart - Weimar 1998, B. 5, S. 945-47; Der Kleine Pauly, Stuttgart MCMLXVII, 2. Band, S. 1372-73; Paulys Realenzyklopaedie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Stuttgart 1914, IX, I, S. 1098-1104; Roman Portraiture - In: Oxford Classical Dictionary, 1970.

[13] Vergil, Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid I-IV, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, London William Heinemann, MCMLXXIV (Eclogue II, 45-55)

[14] Also about the bronze statue, partially gilded David by Bartolomeo Bellano (New York, Metropolitan Museum), who worked with Donatello in Padua. (14a) The enumeration of the dates and their argumentation is an issue leading to a different direction. And yet, see J. Pope-Hennessy: Italian Renaissance Sculpture, London 1971, p. 263 ff. (2 ed.) Recently the extraordinary book by Francesco Caglioti, Donatello e I Medici, 2. Vol. Firenze, 2000 (Olschki) (14b) About Antinous, outside the special studies, in Bulgarian - Marguerite Yoursenar, Memoarite na Adrian, Sofia, 1983 (and especially p. 179-192).

[15] The seeming synonymy of detail and fragment is deliberate. The distinction, which looks like a clue to me, would take a lot of space.

[16] Maria Vassileva, In her exhibition "Soapy Reflections". - Kultura Weekly, Sofia, Feb. 12, 1999.

[17] The literature on the Baroque is enormous; I would like to refer only to the articles on the Baroque in the Macropaedia of Encyclopaedia Britannica (the various editions), inspiring as usual with their combination of erudition, transparency and depth. Or in a different aspect - to Umberto Eco, The Island of the Day Before, "one of the fascinating interpretations of the Baroque person" (Giovanna Brogi Bercoff - In: Il Barocco Letterario nei Paesi Slavi, Roma 1996, p. 24 (La Nuova Italia Scentifica), as well as to the interpretations of G. Berkoff herself in the above book. (my review of "Il Barocco Letterario nei Paesi Slavi" in "Literaturna Misul" magazine 4/ 1995-96, p. 192-97).

[18] "E la Morte a luogo in mezzo le felicita'", G.P. Belori. Cited after E. Panofski "Et in Arcadia ego". Poussin I elegichnata tradicia, p. 318 - In: Ervin Panofski, Smisul I znachenie v izobrazitelnoto izkustvo, Sofia 1986; Louis Martin, Zu einer Theorie des Lesens in den bildenden Kunsten: Poussins Arkadische Hirten - In: Wolfgang Kemp (Hrsg.), Der Betrachter ist im Bild, Koln 1985, S. 110-136 (DuMont Buchverlag)

[19] Jan Bialostocki, Kunst und Vanitas - In: Jan Bialostocki, Stil und Ikonographie, Dresden 1966 S. 187-231 (Verlag der Kunst). Insbesonders S. 199-200

[20] Ausst Kat. Manierismus in Holland um 1600, Berlin 1979, N. 85

[21] Here is the quatrain given by Bialostocki on page 199 of the cited book and which does not coincide with the one under the illustration of the engraving but is of the same meaning: Cur non sponte discimus mori ante diem?/Excussa blandae carnis dum vita superstes,/Compede post mortem liberiore gradu/Spiritus astra petet iam sedem ubi foverat ante.

[22] Bialostocki, ibid., S. 198.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Iren Kroumova, a graduate student of mine (who defended her thesis in 1999), for the literature and the bibliography on Narcissus in Bulgarian that she was so kind to provide.

Part of this text was delivered as a report at the conference on "History and Eschatology", Giolechitza, Bulgaria, May 2000. I am also thankful to Irena Krasteva, Dorotea Tabakova, Vladimir Gradev, Krasimir Stoichev and Oleg Georgiev for their speeches and questions that made me look for other sources and relations.

Reference literature:

I have referred to the edition of "Metarmophoses" Publius Ovidius Naso Metamorphoses (Editit Rudolfus Ehwald) vol. II, Lipsiae in Aedibus B.G. Teubneri MCMXV

Antichna literatura. Entziklopedichen spravochnik (sust. A. Nikolova, B. Bogdanov), S. 1988 (editing house Dr. Peter Beron)

Batakliev, Georgi, Antichna mitologia. Spravochnik, S., 1985 p. 70, 106 I dr. (editing house Dr. Peter Beron)

Gradev, Vladimir, Mulchanieto na litzeto - V: Demokraticheski pregled, kn. 41/42 (esen-zima 1999), s. 319-25

Deguy, Michel, Na tova, koeto niama krai, S. 1995 (editing atelier) (The book has no pagination so I cannot cite the pages on Narcissus.)

Maska i ritual (sust. G. Kraev, I. Bokova), S. 1999 (Nov Bulgarski Universitet). Also the review of T. Iv. Zhivkov, Maska i ritual - Bulgarski folklor 1/2000 (Vizualizatzii na kulturata), p. 99-100

Mifi narodov mira. Entziklopedia v dvuh tomah, Moskva 1980-1982

Cooper, J. K., Entziklopedia na traditzionnite simvoli, Sofia. 1993 ((editing house Dr. Peter Beron, fondatzia Otvoreno obshtestvo)

Denis, Shek, Rechnik na amerikanskata trivialna leksika, Sofia., 1993 (the article on "soap opera")

Rechnik na simvolite (J. Chevalier, A. Geerbrandt), t. 1 & 2, Sofia. 1995, 1996 (editing house Petrikov)

Fraser, James, Zlatnata klonka, gl. XVIII, Sofia., 1984, p. 244-49 (editing house of the Otechestvenia front)

Smidt, Joel, Rechnik po grutzka I rimska mitologia, Pleven 1995, (editing house EA)

Gerhard J. Bellinger, Knaurs Lexikon der Mythologie, Muenchen 1889/1993, Narkissos S. 336, Echo S. 125

Jan Bialostocki, Stil und Ikonographie, Dresden 1966 S. 187 - 231, (Verlag der Kunst)

Charakter - In: Kluge, Etymologisches Woerterbuch der deutschen Sprache 1989 (22. Aufl.) S. 190-91; P. F. Ganz, Der Einfluss des Englischen auf den deutschen Wortschatz, Berlin 1957, S. 51; Etymologisches Woerterbuch des Deutschen, Berlin (2. Aufl.) 1993, S. 190 - 91

Michael Grant, John Hazel, Who's Who in Classical Mythology, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1993, p. 227

Etymologisches Woerterbuch des Deutschen, Berlin 1993 (2. Auflage, Akademie Verlag) S. 190 - 91

Kunstlexikon (bearb. Von Emerich Schaffran), Wien - Stuttgart 1950

Laplanche, J./ Pontalis, J.-B., Das Vokabular der Psychoanalyse, Frankfurt am Main 1989 (9. Aufl.) (Suhrkamp Verlag)

Lexikon der Kunst in 12 Baenden, 1994, (Karl Mueller Verlag, Erlangen) (Vanitas, B. 12, S. 90)

Reclams Lexikon der Antike, Stuttgart 1996 (deutsche Uebersetzung von Margaret Howarson, The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature 1989) Narkissos S. 434, Echo S. 190

Propylaeen Kunstgeschichte. Die Kunst des 17. Jahrhunderts, Berlin 1990 (2. Auflage)

Herbert Jennings Rose, Griechische Mythologie. Ein Handbuch (8. Aufl.) 1992, Muenchen, Verlag C. H. Beck, S.161

A. Samuels, B. Shorter, Fr. Plaut: A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis, London and New York 1986 (in Bulgarian - Kriticheski rechnik na analitichnata psihologia na C.G. Jung, Pleven 1993 (editing house EA)

L.P. Wilkinson: Ovid Surveyed. An Abridgement for the General Reader of "Ovid Recalled", Cambridge, At the University Press 1962

Woerterbuch der deutschen Umgangssprache, Sofia, 1996 (editing house Prozoretz)

List of photographs:

1. Nadezhda Lyahova, Cast of the author's face (positive), material - handmade soap, life-size, metal tub (21 X 30 cm), water; metal tub full of diluted handmade soap, with a porcelain lid, curved wire; ATA center for contemporary art, Sofia, February 1999.

2.Nadezhda Lyahova, Cast of the author's face (negative), material - handmade soap, life-size, metal tub (21 X 30 cm), water; ATA center for contemporary art, Sofia, February 1999 (2a). The same casts after several days.

3.Nadezhda Lyahova, Cast of the author's face (negative), material - handmade soap, life-size, metal tub (21 X 30 cm), water; ATA center for contemporary art, Sofia, February 1999.

4.Nadezhda Lyahova, Vanitas. Performance, September 1999, Sozopol.

5.Nadezhda Lyahova, Vanitas. Cast of the author's face, material - handmade ice-cream, fruits, life-size, performance, September 1999, Sozopol.

6.Nadezhda Lyahova, Vanitas. Feast - togetherness, performance, September 1999, Sozopol.

7.Nadezhda Lyahova, Rest, 90 X 680 cm, handmade paper, "Mexican Graphic art" House, National autumn exhibitions, Plovdiv, 1996.

8.Viewers as participants in the exhibition "Soapy Reflections" at ATA center for contemporary art, February 1999.

9.Nadezhda Lyahova, New Nadezhdi, positive cast of the author's face; material - ice; life size, Sofia 1999.

10.Hendrik Golzius, Quis evadet?, engraving, 1594

The American Citation Index states that Erich Auerbach's "Mimesis" was the most cited book in the theory of literature in the period 1950-1976.


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