1. Meeting with the PR officer of the Ministry of transport at the Bulgaria Hotel café. The aim was to get official permission to realize the project at Poduyane railway station. Four weeks later the response was that the station would be refurbished and it would not be convenient to hold an event there.
2. I modified the project. I decided to have the project mislead the media instead of making the station look like a museum.
3. I started looking for billboards and I called Zhoro Rouzhev. It turned out that he had stepped out of this business and had no way of helping me get either a billboard for free or a rent discount.
4. Maria Vassileva met with a friend of her brother’s who has a few billboards, but he was worried about attracting media attention since he was afraid of the big “sharks” in the business.
5. I turned to the big sharks. Pravdoliub Ivanov got us in touch with the Wallstreet agency. When I went there it turned out that one of the bosses is a surfer, a legendary figure of whom I am a big fan. And he is an artist as well. He gave me four billboards in the centre of Sofia for free.
6. I went to Famecards and we agreed on something like a barter deal: the owner put an article in the Egoist magazine and I let him do the MUSIZ promotional cards. Six months before that there was an article in Egoist mentioning the future opening of the museum, and eventually the magazine designer agreed to do the cards, posters and billboards.
7. At that point I wanted the project to involve Marcel Broodthaers, but Nedko Solakov dissuaded me because Broodthaers deals with criticism of institutions and it was inappropriate to associate the opening of the museum with any criticisms. The argument that won me over was that Broodthaers‘s work is not well known in Bulgaria. He was replaced with Christo – a contemporary artist who is the most famous in Bulgaria and who would generate the greatest interest.
8. The name of the museum was originally going to be the simple abbreviation MCA Museum for Contemporary Art). But Iara Boubnova objected that at least about 20 museums around the world bear this name. We started brainstorming about abbreviations until Iara suggested MUSIZ.
9. Maria Vassileva wrote the press release. And she practically curated the museum by including the artists who she thought should be there.
10. Nadya Lyahova did the invitation using the design of a party invitation of the American embassy in Sofia.
11. Then we tried to get three articles published, which were to announce the opening of the museum. One of the attempts was with Svetla Kuyumdjieva but the 24 hours newspaper rejected the publication. I got in touch with Katya Atanassova from Kapital Light but she was not particularly willing either – I understood from other people that she was not going to put in anything. The third attempt was with Diana Popova for Kultura newspaper, and this one worked.
12. We sent the press release to the BTA. Immediately afterwards most newspapers published the information about the event.
13. The promotional campaign started four days before the opening. The invitations were released six days earlier by mistake. The first 50 were sent out with a wrong phone number, which turned out to be of an unknown Plovdiv user. This was not intended to be part of the project. The other 200 invitations had to be corrected within just a few hours by covering the wrong number with a little sticker, which added incredible tension to the preparation process.
14. The invitations were sent out to the mailing list of the Sofia City art gallery and we used Luchezar Boyadjiev’s mailing list to reach recipients abroad. The Red House Centre for Culture and Debate helped with the names of the ambassadors in Sofia and the addresses of the embassies in English. Raymonda Moudova expertly managed the whole organization. There was a phone number for confirmations on the invitations and there is a record of the incoming calls (directors’ secretaries, gallery managers, diplomats, heads of departments, etc.).
15. The posters were being distributed almost 24 hours a day to avoid other posters being placed on top of them. The promotional cards were distributed in all bars, cafes and restaurants in Sofia. A website and an email address were set up. A huge number of emails were received mainly from journalists who wanted to know when Christo was arriving so that they could be at the airport. The reply was that Christo wanted his first public appearance to be at the opening and that unfortunately we could not announce the date and time of his arrival.
16. The journalists started looking for other sources of information – they were calling Christo’s relatives. Following this, Vlado Yavashev called Nedko Solakov who in turned rang me. I phoned Vlado and explained what it was about; he put up with it – he was definitely not pleased. A day before that I got a phone call from Rostislava Gencheva from bTV; I had mentioned the project to her sometime in January and she had now realized the connection between the posters in Sofia and my project. There was no way to lie to her, I told her what it was about and she promised to co-operate and not to give away anything. In return for her silence Nedko Solakov and I were guests in the morning programme of bTV on the day after the opening.
17. I was told that Poduyane railway station manager appeared on television in order to announce that nothing was going to happen at the station. He said that there was not going to be a museum of contemporary art at Poduyane railway station, or at the Central station, or elsewhere, but that he had nothing against the museum.
18. Then the opening took place at Poduyane railway station. More than 300 people were present among whom were the director of the National Art Gallery, the director of the Art Gallery in Rousse, the chairperson of the Union of Bulgarian Artists, the rector of the National Arts Academy, the ambassadors of Belgium, Britain and Italy, the director of the British Council, representatives of Goethe Institute Sofia, artists, directors, journalists, Bulgarian and foreign guests.
19. There were more than 50 articles covering the event. There were “hot” discussions in chats, in the forums of newspapers, etc.
Vector. ICA-Sofia: Motives, Analyses, Critique is a project by the Institute of Contemporary Art - Sofia. The project is realised with the financial support of the National Fund Culture, Critique Programme