Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Ugly One

by Marius von Mayenburg
Translated into Russian by Svyatoslav Gorodetsky

Directed by Javor Gardev
Stage Design by Venelin Shurelov
Costume Design by Elitza Georgieva
Music by Kalin Nikolov

Igor Bagoley
Elvira Danilina
Andrey Sedov
Vladimir Nazarov
Produced by

The Saratov State Academic Drama Theatre
Named After I.A.Slonov


20.12.2011, 18:00 - Saratov Academic Drama Theatre
21.12.2011, 18:00 - Saratov Academic Drama Theatre

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Man ex Machina - interview "EDNO" magazine

Venelin Shurelov is a set designer and visual artist who never gives in to conventional forms and strategies for creation. He specializes in multimedia and teaches in the Digital Arts Master’s program at the National Academy of Art, where he initiated an international digital arts festival. [DA Fest is organized by the National Academy of Art in Sofia and aims to present diverse artistic trends and practices in the fields of digital video, sound art, net art, multimedia performances, installations and other inter-disciplinary forms.]
Venelin Shurelov is also the creator of installations, performances and objects that have toured a number of European festivals – Drawing Machine, Homo Rotatio, Tabula Rasa, OrthoMan and Fantomat. The leitmotif in his work is the human body as it intersects with technology, and he likes to get the audience involved as an active participant. Venelin Shurelov founded the international art collective Via Pontica Art Group and the Subhuman Theater project, which explores the fragility of the human body, its borderline experiences and hybrid forms.
Over the last three years, together with the Slovenian art organization Zavod Exodos, he has been working on the Labyrinth of Art (Labirint umetnosti) project for a public park with trees planted by people from various corners of the world.
His latest project is called Man ex Machina. It will premiere at the Varna Summer International Theater Festival 2011, which will take place in Varna from June 1-12.

M: What is Man ex Machina? You’ve defined the genre as a hybrid between performance, talk and installation.

V: The hybridity applies to each of the individual elements in the project – it’s in the text, in the structure of the performance, in the character of the protagonist, in his behavior. The original idea was to create a performance/talk. It deals with the hybridity between the technological and the organic, and that’s why I decided that the protagonist should also be a hybrid. That’s how the structure emerged – a theoretical text and a character who is part of the story he is telling. The living element of the cyborg protagonist’s body is his legs. The upper part of his body consists of armor and a helmet –they are like shells inside which I’ve placed content that is different from the organic. The cyborg has a mechanical-electrical torso and head. The other key elements are the three monitors, which resemble portholes in some space journey. The hard part is to figure out the functionality of all the elements, otherwise they just seem like illustration.
M: You have always been intrigued by hybrid forms that carry some kind of supra-knowledge. Man ex Machina is precisely that. How did you come up with the title?
V: It plays off the well-known term Deus ex Machina. In the technological, humans saw the supernatural, which could be connected to the divine. They realized that the technological was supernatural not only because it was spectacular, but also because it enhanced their abilities. From the moment a man is born, he is concerned with improving his capabilities. This trajectory brings us closer to the divine as an ideal. I called my performance Man from the Machine because such technological enhancement, the upgrading of the human body, works towards the creation of a kind of prosthetic gods. Carried away by this trend, we turn into prosthetic gods. The rethinking of this tendency is what is important to me, focusing not so much on the euphoria of accomplishing the divine through the means of technology, but rather on extracting the essence of what humans are in the context of the technological. Besides creating a super-ideal of the human being, the technological may lead us to discover something else about human nature itself – with all its weaknesses, faults, pathologies, its non-humanity.
M: How would you describe the negative and the positive relationships between man and the technological?
V: This is the big question – the debate over whether we are endangered or blessed by this relationship. That is why I added the tagline: “Self-construction and self-destruction in the fantasy realm of the technological.” I wish I were able to give a more straightforward answer, but my response actually comes in the creation of new mythical figures, which I call “culturological actors” – ones that inform, but also subvert. Because of their complex, ambivalent nature, they manifest both the best and the worst in man. It is difficult to judge whether technology will destroy humanity or preserve it. Many fields of technology claim that they are developing in order to preserve human life, but if we take the case of genetic modification, for example, preservation also implies a modification of human existence. Are we ready to change ourselves in order to preserve our species? The performance tries to accumulate as many nuances in the understanding of this issue as possible, to sharpen our reflectiveness. And there is one more problem in the use of technologies: as much as they fascinate us with the opportunity to save, preserve, prolong and improve human life, this turns out to be the privilege of the rich alone. And that deepens social tension. There are two research programs that concerned with cybernization, the combining of human parts with technology. One of them is devoted to creating artificial life, creatures which behave like humans. The other searches for means to break intellect down into something that could be artificially constructed. Both programs have been very successful.

M: Perhaps the lack of a soul is at the root of the problem with these hybrid creatures, who exist at the intersection of the human and the technological. Isn’t the soul the one element technology cannot recreate?
V: There’s one very popular invention – the Writer, an android by Pierre Jauqet-Droz, which works on the principle of the music box. The little boy writes: “I do not think…do I therefore not exist?”, which is a paraphrase of Descartes’ famous statement. And again we arrive at the ambivalence of existence. The fact that these creatures were not born, but made, does not mean they do not exist. I use this is as part of the theatrical language of the performance. All the creatures I make – OrthoMan, Fantomat, the Drawing Machine, Tabula Rasa, Homo Rotatio – are “representers,” which in the language of theatricality become codes and pictograms, communicating important things. I try to put an equals sign between these creatures and the nature of the actor. That’s why it is stated in the performance that the actor’s body is a cyber body, it is a body outside the mundane, it takes on diverse personalities, diverse experiences, it overcomes time, space and gravity, it is capable of any transformation. To me, the question of whether they have a soul or not is not that central. It is more important that they exist and that those who have soul can discover in themselves something of their own spirituality, which actually makes them animate.

M: This is your first try at staging one of your cybernetic creatures in a classic theatrical environment.
V: I always try to gravitate away from the familiar schemes. So far I have done various things with performance elements, but this is indeed the first time I’ve come so close to theater. The new element is the static audience. We have a protagonist who has given up standard acting techniques, reduced here to the static presence of two legs. The performance can be broken down into separate elements and each of them could have a life of its own – the cyborg as an installation, the video as a film, the sound as a radio play. I am afraid, however, that the unfamiliar waters in which the performance churns might distance the audience.

M: Do you believe the audience needs advance preparation to be able to take in a performance like this?
V: I wish I could craft it in such a way that no preparation would be necessary. It is a matter of dosage and choosing how to deliver the information. I wish the audience would appreciate the fact that the one and only element the show builds on is mental activity. In Bulgaria, I do miss thought-oriented performances constructed with brain power. The other thing I miss in our theater is working on a particular theme, we have very few original works.

text by mira mariyanova photography by mihail novakov

The text is published in Edno Magazine, Summer Issue 2011.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Man ex Machina


Cyber lecture "Self-construction and self-destruction in the fantasy realm of technology"

“Man ex Machina” is an intimate event, a mixture between installation, performance and lecture. It explores the interrelations between human beings and technology, which have lead to the creation of hybrids. These fantastic, supernatural beings mark the boundaries between the human and the technological, between being born and being made, between fact and fiction. A protagonist in the performance is such a creature – an eclectic object, created by new technologies and old mechanisms, the body of the artist and sophisticated electronics.

Мan еx Machina е камерно театрално представление, комбинация между инсталация, пърформанс и лекция.

В представлението централн­­а тема са взаимоотношенията между човек и технологии. Тe провокират създаването на различни хибридни същества. Освен че маркират границите между човешко и технологично, родено и направено, факт и фикция, тези същества се явяват като суб-продукт на социалната, политическа, икономическа и културна ситуация.

Такъв е протагонистът в представлението. Той е сложен еклектичен обект, включващ нови технологии и стари механизми, тялото на артиста и софистицирана електроника. Той не е само пресичане между машина и организъм, но и конструкция, в която индивидуалното както и социалните перцепции и проекции, реалии и фикции се смесват заедно.

Какви са фантазиите на един киборг, как технологичното реализира човешките копнежи, как човек се самоизгражда и саморазрушава във фантазното пространство на технологичното?

Човекът от машината (Man ex Machina), така както Deus ex Machina в древногръцкия театър е подходящата фигура способна да даде отговор на тези въпроси.

Man ex Machina е своеобразен събирателен символ, изграден върху метафората човек – псевдочовек, но е разгледан през социализирането и театрализирането на мотива за човешкия двойник. Той е преход към проблемите на сценичната изразност със своята свръхестественост, зрелищност и функционалност.

idea, text, protagonist, scenography - Venelin Shurelov
sound - Sibin Vasilev
3D animator - Yosif Bozhilov
video editing - Martin Penev, Venelin Shurelov
set and props - Borislav Tonev (Bucky), Venelin Shurelov
voice - Venelin Shurelov, Elena Kabasakalova

Special thanks to Elica Georgieva, Bojan Ivanov, Tanja Sokolova, Romjana Dimitrova, Nikolay Yordanov

This project is supported by Ministry of Culture - Bulgaria
The project is part of candidature of city of Varna for European Capital of Culture in 2019


02 June 2011

GRAFIT Gallery, International Theatre Festival - Varna Summer

идея, текст, протагонист, сценография - Венелин Шурелов
музикална среда - Сибин Василев
3D аниматор - Йосиф Божилов
видео монтаж - Мартин Пенев, Венелин Шурелов
изработка декор и реквизит - Борислав Тонев (Бъки), Венелин Шурелов
глас - Венелин Шурелов, Елена Кабасакалова

Специални благодарности на Елица Георгиева, Боян Иванов, Таня Соколова, Румяна Димитрова, Николай Йорданов

Проектът се реализира с подкрепата на Министерство на Културата
Проектът е част от кандидатурата на Варна за европейска столица на културата през 2019 г. и се подкрепя от Програмата за творчески проекти на Община Варна.

Международен театрален фестивал "Варненско лято" и Галерия "ГРАФИТ", представят на

2 юни /20:30 – 21:45 / премиера, Галерия "ГРАФИТ"
4 юни / 19:00 – 20:15 / премиера, Галерия "ГРАФИТ"
5 юни / 20:00 – 21:15 / премиера, Галерия "ГРАФИТ"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Addition and subtraction

Събиране и изваждане

Посвещавам на Илия Шурелов

Изложбата се състои от 24 рисунки, направени с молив върху амбалажна хартия. Те са създадени през месец август 2010 година, по време на престоя ми в ателиетата на Nordic Artists' Centre Dalsåsen, Норвегия.
Събирането и изваждането в серията рисунки тематично свързвам с появата и напускането на този свят, но и с това, което добавяме и премахваме от себе си. Работите са родени от емоционалната енергия натрупана от смъртта на близък човек. В центъра на рисунките присъства неизменно силует на човешки бюст, който е смесица между него и мен. Въпреки това фигурите в различните изображения са деперсонализирани, в тях живеят различни спомени и фикции, колкото лични, толкова и универсални. Образността в рисунките също така е свързана с интереса ми към аугментираното тяло, тялото хибрид, протезираното тяло. По този начин субектът в изображенията се смесва с различни обекти и така придобива нови значения. Значения приличащи на бълнуване, идващо понякога с тежестта на откровение, понакога с лекотата на цинична смешка.

Addition and subtraction

Dedicated to Iliya Shurelov

The exhibition consists of 24 drawings, done in pencil on wrapping paper. They were created in August, 2010, during my stay in the Nordic Artists' Centre Dalsåsen workshops in Norway.
Addition and subtraction in this series of drawings are thematically related to coming to and leaving this world, but also to what we add and what we take off ourselves. These pieces came to life as a result of the emotional energy accumulated after the death of someone very close and dear to me. Invariably in the center of each picture there is a human bust that represents a mix of him and me. Nevertheless, each figure is depersonalized, full of different memories and fictions that are as much personal as universal, too. The imagery of the pictures is also connected to my interest towards the augmentative body, the hybrid-body, the prosthetic-body. This way the subject in the images mixes with variety of objects and acquires new meanings. Meanings that remind of a delirium, sometimes setting down with the burden of a revelation, other times coming with the easiness of a cynical joke.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Drawing Machine

Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Homo Rotatio

is here...

in progres...

Ателие Homo Rotatio на Венелин Шурелов и студенти от 1-ви курс Магистърска програма за Дигитални изкуства, HXA.

Ателието е продължение на семестриална задача, в която чрез теоретични и практически занимания се изследва критиката и взаимодействието между човешко тяло и предмет, конструкция и проекция, инсталация и акция
, в граничната зона между визуалните и изпълнителски изкуства. В този проект ние използваме дъха отделен от човешкото тяло и чрез електромеханични процеси го усилваме и употребяваме като елемент от средата, която ни заобикаля.

Представяне в рамките на Малък сезон - СФУМАТО, 18.00, 29 юни 2010, Зала UNDERGROUND

Проектът се осъществява с подкрепата на Театрална работилница СФУМАТО, Национална художествена академия и
Специални благодарности за Бъки.

A project by DAMA09 (Violeta Pavlova, Evgenia Sarbeva, Martin Petrov, Yulian Nevenov) – first-year students at the Academy, Digital Arts Master’s Programme. The installation is a result of a course work (The actor as an object, the object as an actor), assigned by Venelin Shurelov. Through theoretical and practical studies, the installation examines the interaction between human body and object, construction and projection, installation and action, in the border zone between the visual and performance arts. In this process, we use breath, separated from the human body, intensify it through electromechanical processes and use it as an element of the environment. With their breath, the visitors animate the dummy’s body.

Via Ludens II


02 July 2010 - 04 July 2010


International Theatre Festival Varna Summer

01.06.2010 - 11.06.2010

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tabula Rasa III (Wunderkabinet)

AFTER EGO, curator Svetlana Kujumdzieva

04.09.09 - 02.10.09

Center for Contemporary Art - Plovdiv, Banja “Starinna”, Art Today Association

Foto Gerhard Juetner