Romanian artist Vlad Nancă’s newest exhibition provides a speculative understanding of history and plunges into bottomless possibilities of new futures. The underlying premise of these progressive, futuristic, interplanetary beginnings has at its core an intriguing imaginative exercise. What if humanity had to start over again from the ground up? Would the same mistakes be made? Reflecting on these assumptions, what would a future—this time led by women—look like?

“A Map of the World as Seen by Him” is a reflection on the question of who owns the future and its fantasy. Traditionally, men have held the reins of the future and progress—whether it be in politics, the environment, science or even science fiction. But at a time when more than ever the future looks uncertain and bleak, invariably the imagination begins to seek refuge in utopian notions of possible new beginnings.

Nancă began this thought experiment back in 2015 following the news of the discovery of Kepler-452b, an exoplanet, which scientists call Earth 2.0 because of its suitability for human living conditions. Then there is the question of what would happen if humans one day colonized it. Would we carry our existence along with all the mistakes or will we start fresh? Reflecting on a possible new beginning, the artist imagines a different future, this time led by women.

In a new exhibition hosted by The Institute of Contemporary Art in Sofia, Vlad Nancă looks back to the 20th century and the hectic time of revolutions—social, political, scientific, and architectural. His new works draw inspiration from modernist architecture, Sofia’s urban environment under socialism and Soviet astronautics, and the obsession with scientific progress that left its mark in the form of murals and mosaics across Eastern Europe. He seeks women, whether metaphorical or real historical figures, to become images of a new possible future.

A Map of the World as Seen by Him
Artist: Vlad Nancă
Curator: Stefka Tsaneva
April 26—May 31, 2022
Opening: April 26, Tuesday, 6-8 p.m.
ICA-Sofia Gallery / 134, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Photos by Teodora Dzherekarova

Vlad Nancă (b. 1979, Bucharest) studied at the National University of Arts, Bucharest, Department of Photography and Moving Image. His early practice designated a visionary artistic perspective, as much as triggered the coagulation of the young artist scene in Bucharest. The cityscape of Bucharest was the backdrop for his poetical and subtly political artistic gestures. The shift from the embodied movement of his early actions in the city to embedded movement in the objects the artist makes and interferes with is visible in his recent practice. Through constant idiosyncratic humour and playful semiotics of imagery, Nancă’s recent practice unveils a resurgence of the notion of space (from architecture and public space to outer space) thus forging constellations of subjectivities, sculptures, and installations.

Stefka Tsaneva is working in curating, criticism and educational activities in contemporary art. She took Scandinavian studies and Media sciences at the Humboldt University in Berlin, as well as comparative Art History at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia. She has worked as cultural manager for various organizations such as Goethe-Institut Bulgarien in Sofia; Sariev Contemporary, Open Arts Foundation and Plovdiv-European Capital of Culture 2019. Over the years, she has developed various art mediation and dialogue instigation projects in contemporary art such as: “Looking with Understanding” (since 2021), “Art Start: young artists to follow” (together with Vessela Nozharova, since 2017), Ö shared artists’ studio (2018), talks with artists, etc. She collaborated with Art-Deeds and Actions Foundation on projects like “Sofia Art Projects” (since 2021), the “CLICK International Curatorial Residency” (2018-2019), Blister Magazine, etc. She has worked as a broadcaster for Radio Station Sofia and Radio Station Plovdiv, as well as published on art in a variety of Bulgarian media. Stefka Tsaneva is based in Berlin.