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77 ½
Iskra Blagoeva & Valentina  Sciarra

The project 77 ½  is a result of our research carried out in the last two years for the rediscovery of the Bulgarian female rituals, related to the knowledge of nature and its use for the common good. At the beginning, we came across the midsummer ritual that we have chosen as the starting point for the work:

"Herbs harvested for the winter should be 77 and a half
for all diseases and for the nameless disease"

It was intriguing for us to think what this mysterious disease was, how we should understand it. We decided that in toda's society the undetermined illness is likely to be sadness.
Sadness as the most evident manifestation of stress, anxiety, depression or any other mental disorder widespread in our society, which does not necessarily derive from a specific physical trauma or exceptional event. It belongs to the daily life of each of us and derives mainly from our unhealthy lifestyle, from the intensifying disrespect of biological rhythms, and the growing detachment from the natural reality of the cosmos.
In the past centuries, probably since the formation of tribal societies, healing through natural elements and herbs was a knowledge kept and handed down from generation to generation mainly by women, verbally and through numerous collective rituals. This deep experience of life now is disappearing in the total indifference of our society, but it is still alive thanks to groups of women living in remote areas of Bulgaria (and maybe in other not so globally visible parts of world as well). Passing on this precious sacrament and experience to new generations is important in order to preserve the connection with the roots, the past and nature, which also creates an authentic perception of ourselves. In this way, we have the chance to be more than just single individuals isolated in time, disconnected from a living relationship with community and earth. We believe that rethinking of the traditions today is a kind of  "chanting”. And the performing of the ritual is not just a repetition, but a whispering power of words, thoughts and strength transmitted through generations. It reveals the will to live, which is always in places in the “here and now”. In this respect, the return to ritual is never an imitation, nor a tool to reach an alternative state of mind. It is a collective and choral act, which we explore mentally and physically as shared knowledge and a power of female sensitivity in the eternity of time.

from exhibition's statment 

Iskra Blagoeva and Valentina Sciarra

77 ½  it's a multimedia exhibition project composed of : 

a series of 4 large format photographs (190 cm x 140 cm / 2 m x 140 cm )

a two-channel video installation

a video / Italian and Farsi language

a sound installation created in collaboration with PISTAMASHINA

This project was made possible thanks to the collaboration of : 

Toplocentrala New Art Center Sofia (BG) and Vladiya Mihaylova (Director of Visual Art Toplocentrala Sofia)

* 77 ½  is the first RTSCI “Toplotcentrala” co-produced exhibition by open call


Martin Atanasov, photography

SAW 2022 Team (Voin de Voin, Lisette Smits, Michaela Lakova)

Tilmann Rödiger, Rayna Teneva, camera and editing 

Vesselka Stambolieva and Desislava Petrova (The Great Voices of Bulgaria)

Prof. Tania Reytan

baba Milena, baba Kremena, Zorka ( Banite village )

Nina Blagoeva

Ilinka Tchergaroff Print Studio

Mariela Gemisheva

Hyatt Regency Sofia

Vera Petrova ( translation )

2 ritual_s.jpg
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video documentation of the performance 77 ½ on 22.10.2022,

Alpinarium Park Sofia; fārsi and Italian language

Title : 77 ½ performance

Duration : 4.14 minutes


Camera : Michaela Lakova

Editing : Valentina Sciarra

Original Text : Valentina Sciarra and Iskra Blagoeva

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наричане / Chanting

Two screen projection

Duration : on loop

Camera and Editing : Tilmann Rodiger and Raina Teneva 

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view of the exhibition Toplocentrala Sofia by Kalin Serapionov 

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