The Herbarium Project, curated by Irina Batkova, explores the working environment in contemporary culture where ideas are born and exchanged. The focus of Herbarium is to create a collection sealing, in 40 x 40 x 10 cm, or 20 x 40 x 10 cm boxes, the creative energy of different generations of artists from all over the world. The contents of each box, accompanied by a description and an audio file with the artist’s voice, will be presented both in the exhibition and on the project’s website. The artists invited by the curator of Herbarium choose two new participants—thus, the project tracks creative contacts in the world of art. The development of the collection has no time limits and grows exponentially with each new participant until the final exhibition is announced.
The Herbarium Collection documents the energy of the creative act, irrespective of whether it is a fixed momentary impulse or a precisely considered gesture. ‘Herbarising’ is an action of imprinting memories, emotions, words; images that have lost their significance, images that have gradually become essential; the explosive joy of new ideas and its transformation into calm indifference or—in a nutshell—the permanent human strive towards seeking the meaning of life in all its dimensions. What would the selection of museum specimens of world culture look like if it were made by artists and not by art historians? How would each artist summarise his creativity in a space limited by physical parameters? How would one’s own view of the personal field of artistic expression turn certain research models on their head?
The entire information gathered in the process of developing the archives will be published on the website: www.herbariumcollection.com. All the artists will be presented both with their boxes for the collection, and with an additional selection of photos from exhibitions and of works of theirs. This virtual database will be available to anyone—researchers, curators, gallerists, students or art lovers—interested in the less visible mechanisms by which contemporary culture functions.
The H Talks series of video portraits was shot in the working milieu of the visual artists as part of the Herbarium Project archive. In these short films, the artists describe the creative process behind the realisation of their ideas and concepts of the world and people, the topics that moved them, and the creative energy that drove them to press forward.
The first exposition of the Herbarium Collection will be held at Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art. It includes 55 artists from Bulgaria, Italy, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, China, Poland, Finland, Turkey and Austria. Subsequent editions will be presented in different countries in partnerships with local exhibition venues, organisations and institutions.
H-Talks were produced by MK Production in partnership with Art Project Depot.