I grew up in anticipation of the bright communist future that would solve all of our problems. Just a small step was to be taken. Another ten years and we’d move from socialism to fair communism. I remember the day when I shared with my mother the news me and my classmates had learnt from our tutor at school. And what a disappointment it was to find out the same had been promised to her thirty years earlier… and the Bright Future had to be our Present long ago. I’m from the generation with childhood spent in the socialism but matured in the so called democratic transition. Most of the clichéd slogans are like a part of my child’s games.
More than twenty years after 1989 these advertising slogans reappear again and again with the help of sentimental retro nostalgia and the political parties’ publicity becomes successful easier that way.
It’s unbelievable how many people expect to hear the same hollow words and promises and the Bright Future is once again a keyword in today’s political speeches.
Using various letters from old neon signs, made for shops, confectioneries and cafes, we at Nagledna write again well known slogans from the near future. We update them not by alternating the words but by replacing the fonts. Thus, changing each letter’s function, we write political advertisements via fonts designed for flower, lingerie or sweet shops, grocery stores, etc. We’re interested in the relation between the font and the message written in it. Handmade outdoor advertising signs from socialist time have lost their function and little by little disappear off the face of Bulgarian towns. They are graphological cultural heritage of our country and selected copies should be preserved, even as a basis for creating a new, substantive image of the Cyrillic alphabet in the typical Bulgarian style. Looking at these neon signs, we try to ignore their content and perceive them as organized visual noise.
Political slogans have always been written in block fonts, clear, thick and plain, pursuing the policy of socialist reality. This seeming seriousness tries to cover the ideological nonsense. Playing on commercial signs’ free fonts from those days, we take off the seriousness and expose those slogans’ nonsense, pointing out its attempt to manifest again on the political scene today.
• Workshop “Manufactory Advertising” – restoration and manufacture of lamps from restored neon letters, discussion about original fonts from socialist times
• Campaign “Bright Future” – writing this popular phrase in real old neon letters, installation in a public space in Sofia, with glowing neon
• Series of posters with popular socialist slogans, relevant today (written in the font of neon signs), hung in urban area
• Documentary showing the working process and results
The “Bright Future” (sketch)
Letters-lamps (as a result from the workshop “Manufactory Advertising”, accomplished within Sofia Design Week). Dimensions of the big letters of the sign “Pharmacie”: height 50 cm, width 30-60 cm, depending on the specific letter. The titles “С НИЯ” and “ПИСА” (coming from СПИСАНИЯ) are with height of 30 cm and width of about 1 m each.
NAGLEDNA was founded in 2007. We’re based in Sofia, Bulgaria and work with like-minded collaborators worldwide. We are passionate about art and design, ready for our next challenge, confident our next piece of work will be our best.
RAYCHO STANEV lives and works in Sofia. He is a visual artist and designer whose work includes various art installations, multimedia and illustrations presented in Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Switzerland and Cuba. Raycho’s installations are reflecting past and present, personal memories, heritage (communist) policies and urban cultures. In 2005, he won the Prize of Creative Commons for art project developed under CC License, and in 2008 he received the Special Award of the Union of Bulgarian Artists in the First Biennale of Bulgarian Design. In 2010 he had nomination in BAZA Award for Young Contemporary Art, in this year he arrange a critical debate about DNA and migration in Birmingham. The author participates in 12th Istanbul Biennial of contemporary art.
EVGENI BOGDANOV has been working for more than ten years as video editor and computer systems operator on various TV programs and documentaries; sound designer, cameraman and video editor for web/interactive/animation projects; daily news author and editor at the website of a music magazine; freelance photographer and blog writer.
RADOMIR DANKOV is a full-licensed architect. He worked at several bureaus and since 2009 is a freelancer and part of NAGLEDNA team as a curator, interior and furniture designer. His main challenge is the preservation of cultural heritage and the sustainable urban development. At present he is accomplishing a PhD thesis at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and attending a specialization at Ecole de Chailyot, Paris in the field of architectural restoration.