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Mariela Gemisheva

Mariela Gemisheva

area: Fashion

Key Facts







recommending institution

boutique gegenalltag

time period

August 2007 - September 2007


Born in Kazanlak, Bulgaria. Lives and works in Sofia

2007 - PhD in Visual arts of National Academy of Art, Sofia
1992 - M.A. in Design, the Academy of Arts, Arhitecture and Design in Prague, studio of architect Borec Shipek

Individual activities:

2006 - “Theatralical Girls” the story of one performance, Delegation of the European Commission in  
Ljubljana, Slovenia
- “Spiders House”, art fashion performance and art fashion installation, fashion studio
“Totally Erected”, Sofia
2005 -  Art fashion seminar, Goethe – Institute Sofia
2004 - “Fish Party”, ATA Center / ICA – Sofia
2003 - “Fashion Fire”, art fashion performance, Fire and Emergency Safety, Sofia
2002 - “Out of Myself”, The Municipal Gallery, Sofia, curator Iara Bоubnova
2000 - “Spring – Summer, Autumn – Winter”,  Ata Center for Contemporary Art, Sofia,
curator Iara Bоubnova
1999 - “Out of Season. In Search of New Femininity”, fashion show – matinee,
Central Market Hall, Sofia
1998 - “My Wedding Dress on the Roof”, fashion show-performance on the roof of
6 Shipka Str. Gallery, Sofia

Group participations:

2007 - “Passion for Art”, 35th anniversary of the foundation of Essl Collection, Vienna
2006 - “Neither a White Cube, nor a Black Box. History in Present Tens”. Sofia Art Gallery,
curators: Iara Bubnova, Maria Vassileva
- “Reflections Multiplied”,Sofia Art Gallery, curator Maria Vasileva
2005 - “Altre Lilith”, Frascati, Rome, curators Rosetta Gozzini, Gabriella Serusi
- “Play Sofia”, Kunsthalle Wien Project Space, Vienna, curator Hedwig Saxenhuber
- “46th October Art Salon – Art That Works / Catch Me”, Cultural Center Belgrade, Belgrade,
Serbia and Montenegro, curators Darka Radosavljvic, Nebojsa Vilic
2004 - “Go East!”, Gas Art Gallery, Torino, Italy (
- “Privatizations. Contemporary Art from Eastern Europe” (The Post-communist Condition)
Within Luchezar Boyadjiev's “Freedom (is) for beginners”. Kunstwerke – Institute for
Contemporary Art, Berlin. Curator Boris Groys
2003 - “Balkan Visions”, AR/GE Kunst Galerie Museum, Bozen, Italy, curator Eda Cufer
- “Bllod & Honey/Future’s in the Balkans”, The Essl Collections, Vienna, curator Harald Szeeman
2002 - “In Search of Balkania”, Neue Galerie, Graz, Austria,curators Peter Weibel, Eda Cufer,
Roger Conover
1997 - “Erato’s Version”,Union of Bulgarien Artists, Sofia, curators: Maria Vassileva, Iara Bubnova

2006 - “Golden Needle’2005, nomination for designer of the year of the Academy of Bulgarian Fashion 
1998 - “Golden Needle ’98”, award for Avant-garde Fashion Design of the Academy of
Bulgarian Fashion
-  Award of “24 Carats”, award of National TV Fashion Show
1996 - “Golden Needle ’96”, award for Avant-garde Fashion Design of the Academy of
Bulgarian Fashion

Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia

E -mail:

Assistant: Vladiya Vladimirova Mihaylova

Since February 2007

PhD Candidate for Virtual Media and Cultural Identities, Faculty of Philosophy, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”

Since October 2003 till 2006

Master Degree in Contemporary Art, Faculty of Philosophy, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”

Since 1999 till September 2003

Bachelor Degree in Culturology, Faculty of Philosophy, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”

Since 1994 till 1999

High School with Foreign Languages Proficiency “Simeon Radev”, Pernik, Bulgaria

Practical Experience

April 2007

Participant in Vienna Fair, 2007, assistant on the stand of Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia

March 2007

Exhibition: “Orlin Nedelchev: Personal Art”, curator, “Pistolet “Gallery, Sofia,

February 2007

Exhibition: “Shrinking Cities”, co-curator, together with Timo Koester, Studio Dauhaus – independent art space, Sofia,

Since July 2006 till October 2006

“Art Space: Summer 2006”, (workshop, exhibition, discussion),
project initiated together with Yana Kostova, supported by Тhe National Academy of Arts

23rd of May, 2006

Daily observer “Wide vista”, Daily topic: City and urbanness in the light of the visual. Intervention and abuse. Part of the project “Mobile Studios”, Sofia, Bulgaria
Organizers in Bulgaria: Goethe Institute, Sofia and InterSpace Media Art Center

Since March 2006 till May 2006

Assistant of a project “Kuba – a journey against the current”, initiated by Tyssen-Bornemissa Contemporary Art Foundation, Vienna with partner institution in Bulgaria – Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia  (Nedko Solakov “BG Bar”, curator Iara Bubnova)

Since January 2006 till present

Initiator and organizer (together with a curator Yana Kostova) of a round of public discussions , part of the ongoing project “Critics’ Selection” (platform for discussions and presentations of young Bulgarian artists)

Since 2005 till present

Contributor (occasionally) to the section of visual art in the weekly newspaper “Cultura”

Since 2005 till present

Contributor (occasionally) to magazine for gender, arts and culture “Altera”

Since 2005 till present

Contributor to the sections of visual arts and theater, Server for art and culture – , supported by InterSpace  Media Art Center, Bulgaria

Since 2003 till 2005

Coordinator and organizer of a round of students’ workshops, part of the programme of studies of Master Degree Programme “Contemporary Art ( XX – XXI century)”, Head of the programme Prof. Alexander Kiossev

Since June 2003 till October 2003

Assistant in the Management Body of The 199 Theatre (Internship)

Since 2001 till 2004

Member of the team of the NGO “Resource and Coordination Centre Technology Park Culture”, participant in the projects “Technology Park Culture” 1 and 2, sponsored  by European Cultural Foundation


Mariela Gemisheva works as an artist and fashion designer in Sofia, the city where she was born, in a society – that of Bulgaria – in which concepts such as glamour and fashion were alien for many years. And yet Mariela has turned this situation into an important opportunity to work on Fashion as an abstract concept, as pure expressive research, free of all prejudice. A world in which the final objective is not so much (or at least not only) the mass production and marketing of clothes. Her creations are in fact full critical analyses of the implicit codes of fashion and of its unspoken preconceptions.
Yet they always have all the wearability of “real” clothes, and indeed the artist has twice received the Golden Needle Award for avant-garde fashion from the Bulgarian Fashion Academy.

At the GAS Art Gallery, the artist is showing her Fashion Fire video installation, a performance put on in the courtyard of the Fire and Emergency Safety Service in Sofia.
The fashion show, which starts out as a normal parade of models on the catwalk (and the first model makes us think it will be no more than a routine show) gradually takes on a different overtone: with the same composure as during the show, and betraying only a slight indication of ironic maliciousness, they unveil themselves and throw their clothes (designed by Mariela) into the fire.

With this cathartic gesture, the artist focuses her attention – and the reference is clear in the subtitle of the video, The nice thing of one decent beauty queen – on the liberation of Fashion from the canons and unwritten rules that regulate its mechanisms.

In the intentions of the artist, the dress is no more than a supposition, a code to express the personality of the individual, a balanced compromise between freedom of expression and social conventions. When it no longer lives up to these premises, it is deprived of its function. For the artist, the garments in this collection, which are singularly romantic and coy, represent a model of womanhood that is now a thing of the past and yet still highly approved of by social codes: a model we must free ourselves from, both as a symbol and in practice.

From “art objects”, the models become “art subjects”, with their own autonomy – even as they carry out the will of the designer-artist – the young priestesses of a purifying rite: each one burns her dress as she personally deems fit.

Unlike Vanessa Beecroft’s feminine figures, which are dehumanised presences inspired by aestheticism and portrayed in aseptic, alienated poses, Mariela’s models express feelings of ironic rebellion and active refusal, by no means devoid of a certain dose of maliciousness. To some extent, they also regain possession of their femininity: they bashfully cover their breasts, so their nudity is not brazenly exhibited. In their act, played out to the sound of music, the ceremony of the fashion show takes place in reverse, accompanied by a conclusion that is equally symbolic and surreal: in the final appearance, when stepping out to the customary applause of the public, the designer burns the dress that had opened the parade. This is the most romantic and languorous – and the only one to have been initially spared – thus confirming the idea of a destructive yet liberating will. In her mock rescue by a fireman, it is herself that the artist ironically saves.

In the Out of Myself series of self-portraits, it is again the artist – in a shrewd realisation of her own ability to mutate – who bears witness to the infinite possibilities that Fashion. This is once again viewed as a potential means for expression that is free from regulations, conventions and rules imposed by society. A means that is conceded to the individual.


I was invited for a Residence program in MQ AiR base from August to September 2007 in Vienna from Jasmin Ladenhaufen, manager of boutique Gegenalltag in quartier21.
It was a great chance for me to present „SPIDER HOUSE" project in MAK as an Art fashion performance curated by Jasmin Ladenhaufen too. 

I am very grateful to the program that gave me the possibility to finalize the project as an installation of "SPIDER HOUSE PORTRAIT" in quartier21.

I am very pleased and grateful to take part in this project that gave me the possibility to work in a different atmosphere than this one, which I am having here at home. 

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