Ina Valentinova

Ina Valentinova, Вълчи дол / Valchi Dol, 2020, tapestry woven on a vertical loom, variable dimensions

Ina Valentinova started working on her surreal tapestry in the first days of the lockdown, which she spent in Valchi Dol (Вълчи дол), a town in north-eastern Bulgaria. In the centre of the composition is a nude female figure with three eyes, a clearly depicted vagina and nipples, and a stuck-out tongue, lying in an ambiguous position. While at first sight she may appear to be experiencing ecstasy or writhing with pain, the way her hands are arranged in a mudra – a symbolic gesture used ritually in Buddhist traditions – suggest a kind of meditation. The background is a dystopian landscape consisting of plants, flames, and fungi, among which dominate three oversized fly agarics. The stem of one of those pierces through the figure’s neck, while the caps of the others evoke the shape of the atomic mushroom cloud. In the landscape itself can also be seen little clouds of debris, smoke, and condensed steam caused by a huge explosion, the artist pointing thus to the destructive activities of mankind obsessed with domination and expansive growth.

Valentinova: “In this specific landscape I am trying to accept that we as a society have reached the question of: How did the safety of our home, family, friends, local environment, became so distant from the natural way, that we are all playing a role in a political strategy of creating military conflicts creating weapons of mass destruction? We have forgotten the animistic nature of our world and we are shocked by the concept that if our nature and environment is having a disease, we will suffer from it soon, too.” But a crisis means also a chance for a new beginning, the artist says. A disease, whether in our body or the planet body, can be considered as a warning gift to help us notice issues that need to be dealt with. Such is also the case with the pandemic, which can import an end unless we change our attitude to the planet and each other.

Ina Valentinova is a Bulgarian artist. She has participated in numerous exhibitions and projects in Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Romania, Greece, Serbia, China, and India. Her first solo show, Flying Medusas and Aromatic Cakes, took place at the Arhis Gallery in Varna in 2012. She works with various media, such as textile, painting, graphics, street art, or public art. Interested in animism and the human relationship with nature and spirituality, she produces vital representations of utopian nature which, however, are motivated by a profound frustration with the current political and environmental situation around the globe. Nature in its various forms is the driving force behind Valentinova’s fantastic narratives, combining cultural, anthropological, and religious themes. She lives and works in Valchi Dol.