Venelin Shurelov: “Peripatetic” – between collective anxiety and exhilaration

On 5 and 6 June we invite the festival audience to the Cultral Centre Rebonkers, where the kinetic installation “Peripatetic” by the visual artist and scenographer Venelin Shurelov is on display, the presentation of which will end with the performance “Peripatetic: A docu-mocku accident”. Venelin Shurelov is also the author of this year’s image of the festival, derived from his installation. Jacqueline Dobreva talks to the artist.

This year among of the highlights of the Varna Summer Festival programme is your kinetic installation Peripatetic and the performance Peripatetic: A docu-mocku accident. What will the audience see at this event?

What the public will see is a new stage in the development of my 2018 kinetic installation Peripatetic, which was conceived as the basis for a performance. Inadvertently, several years passed before the conditions were found to move on to this phase. The Varna Summer Festival is reserved territory for experimentation – that alone is reason enough for such an adventure.

One of the biggest challenges I imposed on myself in it was writing an original text for the performance and its upcoming utterance in front of an audience. It felt important to sustain this decision, and I have to admit it wasn’t easy at all. I’m excited about how the demanding festival audience will perceive my role as an author of a text for theatre.

Venelin Shurelov

Can you tell us a little more about the title Peripatetic?

I associate the title with walking as an art, as a means of learning, of bringing the mind to a state of wakefulness. The literal meaning refers to the school of Aristotle who taught while walking, and his students were called peripatetics. The main actors are Peripatetic 1 – born and Peripatetic 2 – made. I call it a “docu-mocku epic” and 1 act with multiple meanings”. It’s doku-moku because it has parts of true stories but crossed with some looser versions of reality.

How does this installation complement and develop your previous projects?

I look at each of my next projects as an opportunity to complement and develop previous ones. Not to build on is equal to creative death. I see this particular project as a summary and concentration of my recent active work with text. The staged event is an extended walk between two beings and listening to the conversation that emerges. The figure of Peripatetic 2 – made, itself, has the romantic aura of the walking poets, but also the idea of dependence on natural resources, vulnerability to ecological upheaval, obsession with raw materials, mechanistic-zoomorphic hybridization, the sense of a strange interspecies clash.

“Peripatetic”, kinetic installation Photo: Venelin Shurelov

The image of this year’s festival is inspired by this installation. What is the message you are sending with it?

It was courageous on the part of the festival team to go for such an image. Apart from the fact that the figure carries the spirit of theatrical embodiment, it also carries the power of some social embodiment. The territory of the theatrical has long been more than mystification and tear-jerking empathy. The subtext of the visual message contains the collective anxiety, but also the exhilaration of new territories for trans-species migration, symbiotic rituals, neuro-performance, techno-shamanism, human-computer interaction, biopunk, bodyhacking, transhumanism, posthuman agents, and so on.

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