PLAMEN DEJANOFF – plamen. literatur kunst leben at 21er Haus, Wien

Plamen Dejanoff, plamen, 2014
Installation View, Ursula Blickle Stiftung


plamen. literatur kunst leben is the title of a recent group of works by Plamen Dejanoff (b. in Sofia in 1970, lives and works in Vienna) which follows another project conceived by the artist, Foundation Requirements (26 September – 26 October 2015), exhibited in the same location, 21er Haus in Wien.

In Foundation Requirements Plamen Dejanoff’s artworks bring back to the foundation that was established in 2010 in order to revitalize the culture of Veliko Tarnovo, the capital city of the mediaeval Second Bulgarian Empire. The objects on display are faithful reconstructions of elements of the demolished library of the city’s patriarch at the time, which emerge simultaneously as architecture, autonomous sculpture, and high-quality 3D advertising for the foundation’s project.

Plamen Dejanoff, plamen (Original Cover 1960ies), 2014
ca. 24.5 x 16.5 cm
Courtesy Galerie Emanuel Layr, Wien, Nicola von Senger, Zurich
Photo: © Plamen Dejanoff


In plamen. literatur kunst leben the Czechoslovakian literature magazine plamen (Eng.: flame) with the subtitle literatura umění život (Literature Art Life), which Dejanoff repeatedly appropriates artistically, takes center stage of this only minimally expanded second exhibition by the artist. The name of the periodical, which was published in Prague in the 1960s, is stylized in a reverse branding process into Dejanoff’s own artistic trademark: the artist translates the significant graphic design of select magazine covers into atmospheric wall objects in bronze (which can be seen in the first exhibition as teasers).

The appropriation reaches its climax with a new issue of plamen, which is presented in the exhibition alongside historical editions and is also a stand-alone work, which functions as a catalog of the exhibition, including contributions by Jennifer Allen, Joanna Fiduccia, Jörg Heiser among others. The pages of text and images in the publication are supplemented by advertisements and are hence comparable to modern-day art magazines as well as Dejanoff’s frequent combining of characteristics from commerce and the art industry. The idea behind the magazine and the associated encounter between several agents’ content forms a direct connection to the early “platform” works by the artist (together with his then partner, Svetlana Heger), which emerged at the end of the 1990s with the involvement of third parties and presented various configurations of objects on pedestal-like plates. By thematically reshuffling the original magazine, a confrontation simultaneously arises between the artistic strategy of appropriation and the historical context of repressive cultural conditions of production in the former Eastern bloc.

By overlapping, the two groups of works — plamen. literatur kunst leben and Foundation Requirements — convey a multipolar oeuvre, which oscillates between socially engaged Conceptual Art, Appropriation Art, and Pop Art.


21er Haus – Schweizergarten, Arsenalstraße 1, Wien
30 October to 29 November 2015