Dust to dust, 2022, Photographer Lisa Rastl, © Michail Michailov


Under the patronage of Mrs. Iliana Yotova, Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria

Michail Michailov is an artist who enlists the aid of various media (performance, drawing, video, sculpture, installation) to create meditative territories where the viewer apprehends unexpected aspects of being.
In the There You Are project, he explores Spazio Ravà to redesign the visible and invisible details that make up the exhibition interior in the context of the body and its interaction with its living environment. Following the geometry of the rooms, the cabinets already mounted on the walls, along with the space's architectural features, Michail Michailov takes up the accessible areas below and between them and positions the drawings from the Dust to Dust series. By building three-dimensional objects similar in shape and proportions to the furniture, the artist simultaneously creates a minimalist and absurd environment. This series, on which the artist began to work eight years ago, won first prize at the 2018 Drawing Now Art Fair in Paris. 

Michail Michailov explained his exploratory interest in the traces of human existence depicted in Dust to Dust as follows: "I draw the dust, stains, useless pieces of plastic and mold that accumulate in my studio. Things are generated through my existence and the existence of the people close to me – all those things we'd rather not see and usually choose to dispose of or hide. The drawing process takes almost as much time as it takes for the material to gather naturally. Looking for answers to what has real meaning in life, I realize how relative our answers may be. Just as relative as the viewer's perception, who, when looking at my drawings, often finds it hard to distinguish between the real and the drawn dust."

Developed over the years, this practice of tracking the not-so-visible accumulation of everyday human detritus has symbolically measured the time passing in human life. That is one of the aspects of our existence as a species destructive to its habitat and at the same time a challenge to our constant action of destroying it. Waste material, drawn with virtuosity and turned into a work of art and surreal sculptural objects, metaphorically constructs the continuous search for meaning in the narrative of everyday life. The white geometric bodies resembling museum pedestals included in the exhibition, with brushes, broom handles, and parts of vacuum cleaners attached, maintain a constant tension between presence and absence in the There You Are space.

The delicate color accents used by the artist in the depiction of human detritus are presented at the center of the predominantly white color in Michail Michailov's exhibitions. The white medical overalls, routinely worn for his performances, depersonalize the body, and the artist's gestures usually hide his face – a component of human identity. In this way, he becomes a mere element of the human cycle in a macro universe of birth and death. 

The idea of repetition without beginning or end is embedded in the Just Keep on Going video series in the exhibition. These videos present the performing of cyclical actions, the meaning of which lies in the movement itself and not in the final result. They capture the artist's interaction with a fictional dystopian living environment and his constant effort to master it. 

The largest window in Spazio Ravà, which overlooks a beautiful garden, is obscured by the Headspacing installation in the There You Are project. This structure only allows the view from the outside through a special opening into which the observer must place their head. The only way for the artist to physically become part of his exhibition is to perform at the pavilion's opening. His view through the Headspacing symbolizes the artist's reflection on the newly created space filled with imagined figures. This reflection is at the heart of the phenomenological bridge that allows us to transcend the interpretation of a particular work of art to search for the ontological truth at the heart of the impulse to create art.

Portrait © Michail Michailov


Michail Michailov, born in 1978 in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, lives and works in Vienna and Paris. After studying art, he worked for a few years with the artists’ group, Gelitin. In addition to several residences and awards, he won first prize at 2018 Drawing Now Art Fair in Paris. Michailov uses his classical training in fine arts as the basis of a critical, experimental, process-based work that explores themes revolving around ideals of perfection and questions of existence.


Portrait © Irina Batkova


Irina Batkova is a poet, critic, and independent curator living and working in Sofia. Her research areas are varied but focus on the crossover between contemporary art and architecture, design, performance, video, and new media practices. She has curated a wide range of exhibitions at venues including the Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art; The State Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow; Basilica Cistern, Istanbul; The Ancient Baths Center for Contemporary Art, Plovdiv; Port Warehouse No. 5, Varna; the Vienna Künstlerhaus; and Akbank Sanat, Istanbul.  Irina Batkova is the founder and curator of Art Project Depot, a platform for contemporary art and culture.


Iаra Boubnova_photo©Kalin Serapionov_2020


Iara (Iaroslava) Boubnova is a curator of contemporary art projects who lives in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since 2019 she has been the Director of the National Gallery, Bulgaria, and the Commissioner of the Bulgarian National Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia. Her curatorial experience includes international and local individual and group shows, festivals, and public art projects. Among her projects is the Bulgarian National Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia (1999), and Manifesta 4, Frankfurt am Main (2002), Moscow Biennial (2005, 2007), 3rd Biennial in Thessaloniki, Greece (2011), 2nd Ural Industrial Biennial, Yekaterinburg, Russia (2012). For the last-mentioned project she was awarded the Innovation Award for curatorial achievement (a Russian State Award). She is a founding member of the ICA-Sofia (1995), and was its Director until 2018. She has been a member of the Manifesta Foundation Board, the Artistic Advisory Committee of MOCA China, Hong Kong; of the Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art, the Yekaterinburg Biennial, and Autostrada Biennial in Prizren, Kosovo.  



The Pavilion of the Republic of Bulgaria at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is organized by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria. It is produced by the National Gallery, Sofia, with Commissioner Iara Boubnova.  



Spazio Ravà, San Polo 1100, 30125 Venezia (near the Rialto Bridge)

Pre-opening on 20, 21 and 22 April
23 April – 27 November
Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00