Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021Photo series and art installation including a delegated performance by a self-defense instructor available every day throughout the exhibition period.


Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photo series and art installation including a delegated performance by a self-defense instructor available every day throughout the exhibition period.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photo series and art installation including a delegated performance by a self-defense instructor available every day throughout the exhibition period.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photo series and art installation including a delegated performance by a self-defense instructor available every day throughout the exhibition period.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photo series and art installation including a delegated performance by a self-defense instructor available every day throughout the exhibition period.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photo series and 25m2 art installation of EVA-Foam floot matts. 



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photo series and 25m2 art installation of EVA-Foam floot matts.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photographs in concrete frame.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photographs in concrete frame.



Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
40x35cm 
Photograph in concrete frame.



Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
40x35cm
Photograph in concrete frame.




Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
40x35cm
Photograph in concrete frame.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photographs in concrete frame.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photographs in concrete frame.



Installation view of Astroturfing ad Hockery, 2021
Photo series and art installation including a delegated performance by a self-defense instructor available every day throughout the exhibition period.



Photo documentation by Rosina Pencheva.



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Astroturfing ad Hockery
10.11.2021 - 05.12.2021
Gallery Credo Bonum, Sofia, Bulgaria.
Curated by Vessela Nozharova.


The so-called performance turn in the visual arts adopts various (anti-)theatrical and dramaturgical strategies such as durational loops, flat structures, audience participation or endless lists of references and translations of one medium to the other – to allow the visitors to enter/exit the work whenever they wish and to avoid classical structures and settings. Lars Nordby somehow simultaneously continues and subverts these traditions with his latest exhibition at Credo Bonum.

In 1980, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts replaced the word "theatre" with the word "performance," marking a shift, followed then by numerous universities expanding the field infinitely where performance is articulated not only as an aesthetic and artistic practice but as everyday social reality – gender roles and identity building, political speeches and protest rallies, religious rituals and public proclamations, etc. What better way to illustrate this shift than by appropriating and reproducing a Bulgarian theatre schoolbook from 1983 – Basics of Stage Fighting – juxtaposed next to an expert in self-defense invited as a live performer in a gallery space for the whole duration of an exhibition inspired by the phenomenon of astroturfing? (Do you actually – as a visitor – ever check how the exhibition is actually funded?).

Bulgaria is really the land of astroturfing – even if we might not all know the meaning of the word (I didn't), we have its lived experience and have mastered it as an everyday practice. A divided society with deep traumas and broken political and moral compasses, a place where every protest has its counter-protest, where parties organize supporters with buses and bring them to public squares, where a series of self-immolations become so normalized they can't even topple a provincial mayor, and where levels of public distrust are so high people believe the wildest conspiracy theories.

The human body in motion is at the center of Nordby's exhibition in that context – the living body and the photographed body, the historical body and the contemporary body, the body in defense and the body teaching and sharing, where the lines between reality and fiction, truth and lies, art and life are blurred. The appropriated book, Basics of Stage Fighting, consists of instructions on making the artificial look real for the stage. At the same time, the self-defense instructor becomes an ambiguous figure made fictional and artificial in the context of the exhibition, transposing his practice seen as an aesthetic performance (is he just an actor or is he real?). His expertise is both neutralized within the gallery's white cube but at the same time also passed on to the viewers, who can then potentially use it for real in public space and daily life.

In his new documentary film Why We Fight, with photographer Myriam Devriendt, the Belgian choreographer Alain Platel explores the destructive forces that seem to drive us into war through stage representations of fighting. The film claims humanity has never actually lived in peace because conflict is part of its nature. While this is probably true, how wars, states, and weapon manufacturers are intertwined or the way economic crises drive nationalistic tendencies remain hidden. Thinking of Nordby's exhibition, I wonder what we can learn from aesthetic practices in the gallery space and how it functions as a political strategy in our everyday social reality? Who should we fight against? What do we stand for, and why?
-Yasen Vasilev


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The exhibition is supported by OCA - Office of Contemporary Art in Norway. Many thanks to Ivan Nikolov, Yasen Vasilev, Raymond Steers, Ismail Kaya, Denitsa Milusheva, Paul Voggenreiter, Rosina Pencheva, Polina Kinova, Ginka Neshkova, and Hefe Fabio.