The Balkans Project

Words and art from the Balkans

Daniel Bozhkov

Daniel Bozhkov, born 1959 in Aytos, Bulgaria, lives Nyack, New York. Bozhkov is a classically trained artist whose skills in Old Master techniques, like fresco painting, provide and unlikely foundation for his wide-ranging conceptual projects. Bozhkov attempts to capture the untranslatable experiences and ironies that confront immigrants moving from one linguistic space into another. He conveys the experience of the outsider through the language of mass culture, re-conceiving western capitalist conventions from an unfamiliar perspective, and in doing so unveils new and often uncomfortable insights.

Recent projects have ranged from the mocking performance of Darth Vader Tries to Clean the Black Sea with Brita Filter (2000), in which Bozhkov, as the Star Wars villain, attempts futile act of ecological remediation.

Daniel Bozhkov, Darth Vader Tries to Clean the Black Sea With Brita Filter, 2000, still from performance documentation.

In 2001 Bozhkov became a “People Greeter” at a Wal-Mart in Maine, where he painted a fresco in the store during his breaks. The incongruous fresco intervention, which depicted merchandize and local town scenes, was warmly embraced by the public. The fresco seemed to personify Wal-Mart’s public face of customer care, but when its location was relegated to the lay-away section, it was gradually ignored, obscured, and damaged. Finally a change in the discount chain’s color scheme precipitated its removal; as such the mural’s evolution became an accidental critique of Wal-Mart’s corporate standards.

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Daniel Bozhkov, Training In Hospitality, 2000 (Mural), Fresco on wall,15 x 7 feet

Other notable works include a giant crop circle portrait of Larry King in 2002 and the production of Simit bread at a bakery in Istanbul formed in unaccustomed but iconic shapes and sold on the street.

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Daniel Bozhkov, Learn How to Fly over a Very Large Larry, 2002, 300-by-250-foot likeness of the TV interviewer using a 3-by-6-foot piece of quarter-inch plywood to flatten the mixture of timothy and milkweed growing in an isolated field in central Maine.