For the fourth consecutive year, Water Tower Art Residency – a continuation of the eponymous art festival (2006-2016) organised by IME Association – will offer

educational resources, experience exchange with international experts and scope for development of socially engaged art. In the pandemic conditions the 2020 WTAR will take place entirely online. From 7 to 14 September, 15 participants will develop web-based projects, guided by invited international mentors, through individual meetings and group workshops. As usual, results will be presented to the public at the end of the residency, on 15 September – this time, in a live stream from the organiser’s YouTube channel. A solo concert by Martian Tabakov – also transmitted live online – will close this year’s public programme. WTAR 2020 is organised with the support of the USA Embassy in Bulgaria.

This year’s residency is aimed not only at developing projects but also ideas and proposals for future research and development of new practical tools of working in the sphere of socially engaged art, in the aftermath of Covid-19. With the wish to nurture dialogue not just between the residency participants but also including members of the public, three of the events form our program will be open to the public with published links to zoom meetings on our facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/watertowerartfest/

On 12 September, Prerana Reddy will present “Supporting Socially Engaged Art Practice”. In this talk audiences will learn about some of the artists A Blade of Grass has supported to create exchanges, experiences, and structures that highlight seemingly intractable social problems, inspire audiences, and energize folks to participate in and sustain long-term social change work. There will also be a discussion about some of the challenges in sustaining socially engaged art, from creating visibility for process-based work with varying degrees of openness to the public, to how one can evaluate the aesthetics and impacts of socially engaged art. Finally, Prerana will share some of the ways ABOG Fellows have been responding to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the uprisings against racial injustice in the United States.


Prerana is the Director of Programs at A Blade of Grass which nurtures socially engaged art through its Fellowship, events, magazine & more. Prior to joining ABOG, she was the Director of Public Events at the Queens Museum of Art, where in addition to organising their screenings, performances, discussions, and community-based collaborative programs and exhibits both on- and offsite, she developed an intensive arts and social justice program for immigrant youth. She was a Douglass Redd Fellow awarded by the Ford Foundation to emerging leaders in the fields of culture and community development. Reddy also worked as documentary filmmaker and researcher whose work has explored such topics as alternatives to juvenile detention, the history of slavery in New York City, and the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbai.

On 13 September, 20:00, video art legend Gary Hill will invite audiences to take part in his interactive presentation, “I ask the same questions; you give the same answers”: exploring an early work entitled Primarily Speaking 1981-83 and subsequently using that to launch into a discussion about anything that arises from said viewing.

Gary Hill is an American artist who lives and works in Seattle, Washington. Often viewed as one of the foundational artists in video art, based on the single-channel work and video- and sound-based installations of the 1970s and 1980s, he in fact began working in metal sculpture in the late 1960s. Today he is best known for internationally exhibited installations and performance art, concerned as much with innovative language as with technology, and for continuing work in a broad range of media. His longtime work with intermedia explores an array of issues ranging from the physicality of language, synesthesia and perceptual conundrums to ontological space and viewer interactivity. The recipient of many awards, his influential work has been exhibited in most major contemporary art museums worldwide.

On 14 September, Cai Qing The Way of Communication in Art

Cai Qing is a prolific artist, curator, art critic and professor, active in the field of performance art, installation, video and pictures. He spent the 1990s and early 2000s working on projects in Germany and New York, respectively. His extensive curatorial portfolio includes China’s first contemporary art exhibition in a private space, “Trace of Existence” (1998), and “Construction before Destruction” (2008), the last performance show in the Sifo Art Village, He Nan province, before its gentrification.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 15 SEPTEMBER PROGRAM ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Presentations of results of artists on 15th September form 18:30 with streaming life video on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/watertowerartfest/ :

This years participants are:

Satadru Sovan Banduri (India), Nitesh Kushwaha (India), Svetli Evgeniev (Bulgaria), Virginia Zaharieva (Bulgaria), Efrosina Peneva (Bulgaria), Radina Stoimenova (France / Bulgaria), Irina Stoyanova (Bulgaria), Dilyana Stoimenova (Bulgaria), Funda Zeynep Ayguler (Turkey), Nellie Carnes (Portugal), Galena Sardamova, Gergana Ivanova (Bulgaria), Elitsa Ganeva (Bulgaria), Ralitsa Georgieva (Bulgaria) Tsveta Doycheva(Bulgaria)

Followed by streaming live concert of Martyan Tabakov, one of the artists at Studio BELKA from 21:00h.


OPEN CALL – 2020 Water Tower Art Residency ONLINE

Action “Fragile tomorrow” during Covid19 by Nia Pushkarova artist and curator


OPEN CALL – 2020 Water Tower Art Residency ONLINE
Deadline for participation: September 3, 2020.
Dates of the residency: September 7-15, 2020. Mentors and guests with presentations (biographies below): Bill Aichison (USA / China), Gary Hill (USA), Daisuke Takeya (Japan / Canada), Albena Mihaylova-Benji / Switzerland), Prerana Reddy (USA), Qing Cai (China/USA)
Participation is FREE, conditions for participation:
- sending a project-proposal in response to the given topic – description below.
- sending a short CV and motivation letter for participation, as well as an indication of a preferred mentor
- knowledge of English (the working language of the program)

Send your requests to participate to watertowerartfest@gmail.com

Online residency with mentors and end result presented in public and online. In times of post pandemic situation and social distancing we are opening platform for exchange and development of ideas surrounding our everyday strange life since the start of Lockdown. The questions will be raised and answered with the help of our mentors. Some possible variations of themes to work on during residency:
A study of relationships and connections in the new everyday life, in which the physical element is subtracted from the equation.
Where do the boundaries of the individual and the collective consciousness shift when there is no physical boundary and / or interaction (ie the infinite online space)
How cultural heritage is formed without a physical aspect.
The aim of the residency with mentor program is not to finalize a complete art product, but rather define creative ways of dealing with the new situation after the lock-down and its personal and social repercussions.

Mentors/Ментори 2020:

Bill Aitchison- http://www.billaitchison.co.uk/billaitchison/home.html is a performance artist whose live events have been presented in major museums, galleries, theatres and festivals in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Australia and China. His artworks are held in both private collections and museums. His output is as prolific as it is diverse with projects taking an extremely wide range of forms such as videos, monologues, group events, online encounters, guided tours, photography and much more. Despite this, his work as a whole is recognisable for its formal clarity, ambition of intent, dry humour and innovative use of site and frame. Aitchison has produced artist books, is a popular blogger, has made several works for radio and screen and has had his critical and journalistic articles published in several countries. He has a practice-as-research PhD from Goldsmiths College in the field of performance art, has taught and lectured at graduate and post-graduate level and presented his work and research at numerous conferences worldwide. He is curator of Last Minute Live Art, mentors artists and teaches at Nanjing University in China. Recent projects (2020) include Love in the Time of Corona (CUHK Arts Festival – online), Art of Seduction (LMLA/Monohouse), PAO: Performance Art Olympics (Phoenix Flower Festival Shenzhen), 60 Days of Lockdown (A4 Art Museum Chengdu – online), Way-Losing (LMLA Nanjing) and A Last Minute Manifesto (Hexxy Duxxy Box – online). A symposium, exhibition and publication is planned for later 2020.

British performance artist Bill Aitchison will assist selected artists in the realization of their projects through a series of online meetings. These will take place both as group meetings and as individual sessions during which the specific problems and opportunities that the online festival has created will be considered.

Gary Hill – https://garyhill.com/ (born April 4, 1951) is an American artist who lives and works in Seattle, Washington. Often viewed as one of the foundational artists in video art, based on the single-channel work and video- and sound-based installations of the 1970s and 1980s, he in fact began working in metal sculpture in the late 1960s. Today he is best known for internationally exhibited installations and performance art, concerned as much with innovative language as with technology, and for continuing work in a broad range of media. His longtime work with intermedia explores an array of issues ranging from the physicality of language, synesthesia and perceptual conundrums to ontological space and viewer interactivity. The recipient of many awards, his influential work has been exhibited in most major contemporary art museums worldwide.

Daisuke Takeya – https://daisuketakeya.com/
Born and raised in Japan, Daisuke Takeya obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Graduate School of Figurative Art at the New York Academy of Art and received Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Currently based in Toronto, Canada, As a live performance artist Daisuke has collaborated with artists from various genres, including classical musicians such as cellist Vernon Regehr, violinist Lynn Kuo, Music in the Barns Chamber Ensemble, Les AMIS Ensemble, and deVah Quartet. Daisuke’s interest has been extended to vitalization of communities via art. He has co-directed and performed at Ashita: Artists for Japan, a Tsunami Relief Fundraiser in March, 2011, which featured the visual, music, dance, performance, and literary art communities of Toronto. Daisuke is also a past programming director and board member of Gendai Gallery, an artist and ambassador of ARTBOUND and an organizing committee member of Onagawa Art Season, an art festival at the most devastated town of 2011 Tsunami in Japan. He is currently a co-director of DAICHI Projects, the representative and curator of Field Trip Project, Field Trip Project Asia, and POWER TO THE PEOPLE initiative. He is the executive director of Responding: International Performance Art Festival and Meeting erected in 2018.
Workshop description

Workshop: Duet
Duet is an experimental workshop for online duet performance art consisting of warmup exercises, group discussions and presentation of duet performances among the participants. How do we develop and maintain intimacy between two artists collaborating in distance via devices?

Albena Mihailova – Bendji – https://openartfiles.bg/en/people/1124-albena-mihaylova-bendji
Albena Mihaylova-Bendji was born on 9 June 1959 in Plovdiv. In 1984 she graduated from the National Academy of Arts, Sofia, in a Original graphics class. 1984-1994 she was an active artist with a number of solo exhibitions, participations in international biennials and a winner of awards. At the center of her work is the relationship between the two-dimensional and its spatial equivalent. As a result unique installations and performances are born. In 1989 she was one of the founders of the legendary art group “RUB”. During that time, the artist inspired and lead the organization of one of the first private galleries in Bulgaria – the Akrabov Gallery, which functioned as a resident center for contemporary art, and also she was Associate Professor at the School of Performing Arts in Plovdiv. In 1994 Albena left for Zurich at the invitation of BINZ 39 Foundation as a resident artist. As consequence of this exchange, she has promoted the gallery under the International Resartist Program and organized the exchange of artists, projects and festivals between Bulgaria and Switzerland. In the period 1995-1998 Albena Mihaylova-Bendji specialized in a Master class in Video Art at the Higher Art School of Basel, Switzerland. In 2008, she was nominated for the M-Tel Award for Bulgarian Contemporary Art. Since 2008 Albena Mihaylova-Bendji works as a documentary filmmaker, director and cinematographer. In 2009, she found a platform for cultural exchange, exhibitions and film festivals at Basel – Culturinstitut AM contemporary. Currently the artist works and lives in Basel. Her creative biography includes her membership in the artistic group “VIA Audio Video Art”, her work in the governance of the creative union “VISARTE BASEL” and she leads workshops for Artlink Bern and Solothurn Higher Pedagogical School. She is a member of “Balimage”, an association of filmmakers and video artists.
The workshop she proposed is going to be in groups of 4 for 2 days twice a day on topics of the social distance caused by the current situation, but also the generally existing alienation. The loneliness of the individual in modern times and the compensation through the media. Desired insulation and unwanted. what do we do with ourselves?

Special Guests/Speakers:
Prerana Reddy
Director of Programs
Prerana Reddy is the Director of Programs at A Blade of Grass which nurtures socially engaged art.

Qing Cai – China perfromance artist and Professor at Tianjing Art Academy

The event is made possible with the support of grant from Embassy of USA in Bulgaria



Programme of public events, presenting results from the residency, includes a workshop with American artist Carron Little, performance by writer & artist Virginia Zaharieva, and music party with trohi at the former thermal power plant near “G.M. Dimitrov” metro station 

For a third year running, Bulgarian and foreign creative minds will exchange expertise during the Water Tower Art Residency (23 August – 3 September) in Sofia. Organised by the IME Association, the residency incorporates a mentoring scheme, and aims to introduce some of the internationally-adopted progressive, creative social strategies into the local context, as well as acting as a networking opportunity between leading arts professionals and emerging ones. This year’s residency is aimed at artists with projects exploring social engagement, social justice, gift economy, creativity and ecology. Following the format of temporary artistic stay established worldwide, participants in Water Tower Art Residency #3 are expected to immerse themselves in the local context and develop their projects on site, as site-specific art, according to their chosen location. The results will be presented in series of public events, 1-3 September. Partner locations for this year, where works developed during WTAR#3 will be presented, are Sofia’s „ONE Gallery” and former thermal power plant near “G.M. Dimitrov” metro station.

Residency participants will be mentored by three leading names from the American arts world: Sara Reisman, Executive and Artistic Director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, artist Carron Little, and Rachel Raphaela Gugelberger, Curator & Director of NLE Curatorial Lab (NLE Lab) and co-founder of 1@111. Inclusion of active mentoring scheme this year will allow residency participants to fully test-drive and develop their ideas under personal guidance and with consistent feedback throughout each step of the process, with scheduled one-to-one meetings, as well as peer review sessions.

Members of the public in Sofia will also have an opportunity to meet the invited mentors. On 31 August, at ONE Gallery, Carron Little invites everyone to an open workshop, „Ecology of care”, which aims to create support system that sustains diversity in creative industries. The workshop will start at 4pm, and further details can be found online. An open performance by Carron herself will take place a day earlier, 30 August, also at ONE Gallery, from 7pm. On Monday 2 September, all three of the mentors, Carron Little, Sarah Reisman and Rachel Gugelberger will present their „Good examples and case studies in social development through creative practices” as a public lecture at SofiaLab, hosted by the Sofia Development Association. Starting time 9am.

9 participants in this year’s residency were chosen by an international jury, judging their submitted proposals to an open call set out by IME Association earlier in April. Bulgarian participants are: Maria Tsaneva, project proposal for interactive “art walk”, focus on a complex of sports buildings in Sofia’s “Geo Milev” neighborhood: “Festivalna” hall (Asix Arena), “Academic” stadium, and the unfinished sports hall of the Sofia University; Svetly Evgeniev, project-proposal for installation (video + sculpture); Maria Valterova, project proposal for performance and video installation; KOIN Collective (sound art duo trohi, aka Yoana Robova & Petar Parmakov + visual artists Ivelina Ivanova & Mario Stoynov) with interactive installation, dedicated to the Northern Black Sea coastline and the ecological crisis; Virginia Zaharieva, writer/psychologist/artist, with performance. International participants are: Ana Vujic (Serbia/Switzerland), project-proposal for large-scale drawings and photography, Haruka Tomatsu (Japan), project-proposal for a solo performance + installation, incorporating the concept of “zen mondo” (Japanese: 問答 / Mondo: “questions and answers”; a written collection of dialogues between zen student and master); Uluc Ali Kilic (Turkey), installation proposal, using collected plastic waste to assemble “pictures”, in the vain of stained glass works.

All residency participants will develop their project proposals on site, which leaves the end result unknown until the final day of installation and presentation. On 2 September former thermal power plant next to Sofia’s “G.M. Dimitrov” metro station will be transformed by works of Uluc Ali Kilic, Ana Vujic and Svetly Evegeniev. The alternative playground will open doors to public at 7pm, and the evening’s programme includes performance by Haruka Tomatsu and trohi (Peter Parmakov & Yoana Robova), a sound art and experimental music duo, based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Maria Tsaneva, Virginia Zaharieva, KOIN Collective, and Maria Valterova will present their works on 3 September at ONE Gallery – doors open 6.30pm, followed by one-off performance of Virginia Zaharieva (7pm to 7.30pm), and the exhibition will be on display until 13 September. Maria Tsaneva’s work for ONE Gallery will be a result of an “art walk” on 31 August. Haruka Tomatsu and Ana Vujic will present works at both locations.

For up-to-date information on dates, timings, programme & projects details, please follow the Facebook links:




About Water Tower Art Residency (WTAR)

Water Tower Art Residency is the new, independent chapter but, equally, a logical extension of the body of work carried out by IME Association and Water Tower Art Fest – which original format came to an end in 2016, with the 10th anniversary edition, including over 80 contemporary art projects, site-specific works of painting, sculpture, video, photography, installations and performances, from over 10 European countries as well as Brazil, Canada, USA and Japan. Based on years of experience and developed network of participants and partners, the essence of the residency is to maintain the concept and core values set-up in the festival: artistic development of participants and their audiences, creating works in a dedicated context, i.e. site-specific art.


About IME Association


IME Association was set up in 2004 by a group of artists, aiming to revive and restore important, but neglected, Sofia landmarks and buildings, as centres for creative residencies. The first such landmark is the eponymous water tower in the capital’s neighbourhood of “Lozenets”, where in 2006 joint efforts of very practical origins – to clean and clear the space, making its design and architecture available for public viewing – led to the establishment of the overall project for a contemporary art festival in alternative locations. The artist-run initiative „Water Tower Art Fest” was on the map of important cultural events in Sofia, as well as in Europe, and grew from a small local initiative to a space of creative, personal and professional exchange for many. Over the years, “Water Tower Art Fest” became the biggest international platform for ideas and arts exchange based in Bulgaria, attracting over 600 creative practitioners working in the sphere of socially engaged art from all over the world. The buildings discovered and integrated back into the society by IME Association are numerous and each of them presents a unique part of Sofia’s cultural identity. In 2016 WTAF celebrated its 10th anniversary. In July 2017 IME Association curated the very first “site-specific” residency in Bulgaria, gathering under one roof contemporary artists from Japan, Ukraine, China, Serbia, Australia and the UK, whose projects were planned, developed and realised during their 1-week stay in Sofia, in accordance to the sites specifications of the two partner locations, “Poduene” depot and Council Culture Institute House of Culture “Iskur”. To this date, Water Tower Art Residency has two successful editions.


Upcoming events part of Water tower art fest initiatives

We are happy to announce the project of NGO IME and Aim network in Plovdiv 2019


1–10 June

aim plovdiv 2019 posterDesign by Denitsa Toneva

With the coming opportunity of meeting of AIM members in Plovdiv 2019 with local artistic initiatives and  form the Balkan region, we will be able to have a more structured dialogue regarding influences artists have through their independent initiatives and at the same time support the ones that are still under development.

AIM Network (https://www.facebook.com/ArtistsInitiativesMeetings/), started at Supermarket independent art fair for artists run initiatives in Stockholm  in 2010 https://www.supermarketartfair.com/,  in partnership with Candyland Stockholm Water tower art fest is a partner to AIM network since 2014.

AIM Plovdiv 2019 – Local Connections brings together a range of European artist-run initiatives to connect independent Bulgarian art scene with the surrounding regions and internationally. The project builds on AIM Network’s long-term goals to facilitate connections, build new collaborations, strengthen the artist-run scene and make it accessible to the public. It develops the concept of working on a large-scale local basis across different but interconnected neighbouring regions. Despite the state borders, artists and curators often share similar social and cultural questions, common traditions and discourse in contemporary art, yet often they do not have the opportunity to meet in person and share their experience. The project will offer a range of events including public workshops, panel discussion, guided tour and exhibition. AIM Plovdiv 2019 is organised by AIM Network and Water Tower Art Fest with the support of Plovdiv 2019 European Capital of Culture.

AIM Network (Artists’ Initiatives’ Meetings Network) is a European network of artist-run initiatives. It serves as a platform for exchange of experience, sharing of knowledge, increasing of mobility and cooperation between artist-run initiatives, and to raise awareness of the artist-run sector among both professional art world and the broader public. The network has currently eleven artist-run member spaces from across Europe.



Water tower art residency 2018

 “Social Development Through Creative Practices”

Places and Events by date:

-13.06- Public presentation by guests mentors art directors from UK 16:00- 19:00 @The Fridge. With the Support form National Fund of Culture Bulgaria

- 14.06 – opening exhibition for works made for Arosita Gallery

- 15.06 – the artists of “Water tower Creative Residence” №2 and a team will appear as volunteers-hosts of the event “Suspended Lunch” in support of Solidarity Kitchen Sofia. Invited guests will prepay one lunch for themselves and one “suspended” – the collected funds and products will go to the Sunday lunch organized by Solidarity Kitchen on 17 June, as an initiative to support people in need, held every Sunday in the Solidarity Club at 51 George Washington Street – and part of the prepared “suspended” lunches will be given out on the same day, on the 15th. Partners of the initiative are Move.bg, the lunch taking place at their space on 20 Serdika Str.

- 15.06 – opening in the art space “Rakovski 167″

- 16.06 – opening in the former warehouse “Despred” on Veslets street with public performances and music program – closing of the creative residence

- 17.06 – 19.06 spaces open for visits


Валентина Шара (Италия) / Valentina Sciarra (Italy)

Ева-Лиса Пухака (Финландия) / Eeva Lisa Puhaka (Finland)


Patrick Fenech (Malta)

Juan José Valencia (Spain)

Marta Wlusek (Poland)

Marc Shmitz (Germany)

Xiao Li (Japan)

Ruby Cedar (UK)

Corinne Fhima (France)

Gal Leshem(Israel)

Maia Iotzova (Bulgaria)

Darena Georgieva (Bulgaria)


The project was made possible with the kind support of: Nikolay Nedelchev, Gaudenz B Ruf Awards, Ministry of Culture





In the face of rapid changes in environment and urban development as well as social and cultural scene we are also changing
What once we thought was valuable and real now has stepped out to a more serene look on matters connected with communication through the arts
Water tower art fest is no longer,
But a new platform for immediate communication through contemporary arts is rising
We invite you to do socially interactive actions, performances or exhibition addressing issues or tendency of general isolation in the cities, tolerance and well-being, as well as actions, which contribute in general way the communication between people– where elitism is peaking its head out suffocating real people-to-people communication. What we know is not what we see, what we get is not what we want. This is an artist run initiative and as we are starting to run it independently from institutions without any financial support, there is a participation fee for the organization.

Theme: Social Development Through Creative Practices

Deadline 15 April 2018
Period of residency 01.06. – 17.06.2018
Event opening dates: various at each place tba
What we offer is interaction in the city of Sofia in four or more venues with additional possibility for public spaces interaction based on application proposal
What we expect from the artistic proposals is:
> Leaving immediate social impact through practice
> Creative methods of achieving improvements for the specific site/space/social context/existing issue in the society
> Requires immersion in the local context, as well as bringing global practices
> Participants come together for period of 2 weeks,
> Incorporation of scheduled one-to-one meetings with residency advisors, workshops and public interaction throughout the stay, sites open to visit while works are developed
> Final 2-3 days – official results presentation to the public and partners with musical concert and performances at a destination in Sofia tba
Rules for applying;
Please send via email no later than 10.April 2018, 18:00pm to this email: watertowerartfest@gmail.com (if you are sending big file transfer please use wetransfer) the following:
• A resume of proposed project to do during the residency; it can be only an outline of possible activity, exhibit, performance, installation or action explained in a resume. Please mention possible media usage technical details and scale of proposed project, add visualization including photos or sketches if possible.
• A recent CV
• One Recommendation

What we offer:
Three scholarships available for WTAR2 based on proposed projects and decision of selection juries of 500 Euros each
For the rest of accepted residents there is a fee of 200 Euros to be paid prior to arrival- the fee covers:
- Accommodation, arranged by us in center of Sofia for the whole period covered. All artists are to cook or arrange their own meals. With the help of staff, we will be able to show you closest supermarkets and grocery stores, as well as restaurants close by.
- A guide in Sofia with help of staff upon arrival
- technical support and support sourcing out required materials for the respective works (artists are responsible for their materials for which we are ready to help find them or rent them)
*All artists are responsible for their transportation. A staff member will pick you up from airport.
**We will ask you to leave one artwork at the end of residency to the organizers, which will be subject of choice for a collector form Bulgaria.

During the residency, participants will be offered:
One-to-one meetings with guest workshop facilitators and residency advisors, as well as group meetings with local curators and other industry professionals
Curator’s walk and lunch with both national and international curators and collectors during the period of residency.
Integration with other galleries and arts programs, and a host of presentations, openings, performances and lectures.
Unrestricted access to venues to work on site
Technical support for installing the works
Catalogue and brochure issuing after end of residency + online edition on site
Interviews arranged in national media
Highlight of artworks on social media facebook (5000 followers) and site
Professional photo and video documentation high res of artworks and performances
A workshop or lecture organized by WTAR for artists to give to local art scene and students
General interaction with local art scene
Works development and installation will take place with “Open Doors” policy – members of the public as well as visiting residency advisors and other interested party are invited to come by and visit the process. This is an opportunity to maintain local contact and be strongly rooted within the local context of the program, making direct impact on the community/place where works are to be carried out/presented.
Selection Juries:
Nia Pushkarova – Director and Chief Curator of Water tower art fest/ residency
Rositsa Getsova – Artist and Gallerist owner of Arosita Gallery
Nikolay Nedelchev – Art Collector from Sofia

Arosita Gallery- exhibition place, http://www.arosita.info/
Labaratory of BG ROSE- social interaction place for performance action and exhibition (tbc)
Despred Hall – exhibition place- https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2gqDgNTx6J-LTNKRUwtem1kMkE
Public Mineral water basin area
Other public spaces around the city
*More photos will follow of sties soon
**The organizers remain their right to change/replace venues due to outside circumstances beyond their jurisdiction.

Ngo IME, Nia Pushkarova – Director and Curator of WTAF
9 Bogatista street, Sofia 1421
Skype: niapush

Water Tower Artists at Nakanojo Art Biennale – September 2017


This autumn, a Bulgarian touch will aid the transformation of abandoned spaces in one of the most scenic and inspiring places in JapanNakanojo. The world recognised Nakanojo Art Biennale traditionally invites international artists with projects for reviving disused buildings and adapting them as galleries and exhibitions spaces for the duration of the event. Nia Pushkarova, the founder and director of Water Tower Art Fest and Association IME, has received an invite from the organisers of the biennale for participation with a whole pavilion dedicated to contemporary Bulgarian art. Together with Nia, the Bulgarian pavilion at Nakanojo, “Distant Relatives”, will be presented by: Galina Yotova – long-term collaborator and official photographer of WTAF; Elitsa Ganeva – long-term collaborator of WTAF, recipient of WTAF 2016 “Debut” Award; Radina Stoimenova – former intern (2015) and participant in WTAF 2016, performance, installations. Their projects will see the former primary school in Nakanojo take on a new life throughout September 2017.

The participation of precisely Water Tower Art Fest artists and organisers is no coincidence, given the many similarities between the two projects – Nakanojo and WTAF – and it serves to prove the experience and expertise of Association IME (WTAF) in the field of urban arts and interventions. Both WTAF and Nakanojo Art Biennale were set up in the same year, 2006. The projects share the same idea about re-imagining disused urban spaces and rediscovering their potential. 

In just 10 years, the Biennale has turned Nakanojo in an attractive cultural hub for international artists and an area of regeneration – abandoned schools are being turned into galleries, public spaces take on the role of sculpture parks. The project is a successful example of a sustainable cultural initiative. The Biennale has a socio-economic contribution to the region, by a). creating temporary employment for the locals, as translators and artists’ assistants, as well as volunteers, b). attracting thousands of tourists for several months, c). aiding the communication between institutions, artists and culture collectives; helping emerging practitioners get noticed by renowned curators, international associations and media.

Likewise, over the last 10 years Water Tower Art Fest have been developing and fighting for good practices in preserving valuable but abandoned Bulgarian cityscapes, proving that culture is not something that can be just stored in a museum or gallery but is actually part of our everyday life. Even after unjustly losing the symbol of the festival, the old water tower in Sofia’s Lozenec area (the municipality closed the tower for public access in 2014 and then, in 2016 sold it privately, through a “behind-the-closed-doors” auction to a yet unnamed buyer, despite all the regeneration efforts and project proposal for permanent art space from WTAF), the collective continues its work in socially engaged art practices, locally and internationally – and their visit to Japan is an opportunity to acquire further knowledge in building sustainable development models. 

The model adopted in Nakanojo is one of cultural exchange and active communication, which produces long-lasting partnerships and gives basis to future shared projects; it creates a dialogue for finding solutions to the current, shared issues in the art world – rather than just being a pure exhibition platform. The same principals were established by WTAF 2006-2016 and all consecutive initiatives of Association IME, e.g. Water Tower Art Residency, July 2017.

Last, but not least, the impressive number of visitors to Nakanojo Biennale – over 470 000 for the 2016 edition – will guarantee wide exposure to the Bulgarian pavilion and its representatives, thus further promoting contemporary Bulgarian art overseas and contextualising it within the international arts scene.


You can follow live updates & details of WTAF’s visit to Nakanojo Biennale 2017 on Facebook



WTAR 2017 Documentary



Mariko Hori (Japan/Serbia) – Born in Hyogo, Japan, based in Belgrade, Serbia. Mainly installations, her work deals with alternatives space and uncovering site-specific perceptions through broadening or changing the focus in the details of daily life. When intentionally placing specific objects in spaces where they don’t usually belong, the selection of objects and the space in-between makes the atmosphere different and something unexplainable arises.


Marina Moskalenko (Ukraine) – Marina specializes in interactive installations, actions and visual arts (incl. Fine Arts, with Graphic Artist qualification); her WTAR project will be presented in Depot Poduene, details TBC – the concept of her project will be created and developed during the residency, with the site in mind, and is not available beforehand.


Johannes Gerard (Netherlands) – visual artist with almost 30 years of experience with projects in sculpture, installations, mixed media, photography and print; his WTAR project will be presented at the House of Culture “Iskur”, details TBC.


Pierre Tardiff (France/UK) – creative technologist and sound designer, with a degree in electronic engineering, Pierre has an exciting portfolio of work in London; his idea is to present a combination of music, science and artwork.


Anna-Maria Bogner (Austria) – her work focuses on the appropriation of space, space limitations and the spaces in between. WTAR project: installation from objects found on site, transforming the space in which they’re found; an exploration of our own and shared reality.


Haruka Tomatsu (Japan)WTAR project: installation and interactive dance performance for Depot Poduene, exploring memories-objects relations; the dance technique used in this project is called Butho – originated in Japan in the 1950s, it’s a dance without preliminary choreography, created on the spot, depending on the space and context in which it is performed. 


Serena Chalker (Australia) – Serena’s practice draws from dance, audio/text, theatre, happening and intervention. WTAR project: series of intimate performance encounters / meetings with the audience, based at Depot Poduene, examining our relationship to change and transition, and how this influences our sense of connectedness to a place.


Ren Qian, Cai Qing, Shen Yun (China)collective exhibition of projects (video, photography, installations), documenting a nearly 10-years long exploration of water (lakes, rivers, bays, etc.) and its place in humans’ traditions/history/practices around the world and in China.

Nia PushkarovaPREDISPOSITION LIMITED BY CIRCUMSTANCES” – Performance and installation

Music Performers

Ponton (Serbia) - The Serbian Duo are Marko Jevtic and Igor Stangliczky. PonTon are soundscape storytellers since 2008 and have 5 albums behind their back – a collection of electro-acoustic improv, drone, post-rock, soundscape storytelling. 

White Flower (UK) - Seb Silas (soprano saxophone) and Sylvia Schmidt (vocals).
Formed as a response to the erratic and all-consuming city of London, White Flower offers its audiences an opportunity to step away from urban life, pay attention to intimate sound, and be drawn into dream-like sonorities. Through creating a focus on stillness & silence, but exploring uncomfortability & contradiction, a trance-like catharsis is offered for contemplation.


21.07, 18:00-22:00, Council Cultural Institute House of Culture “Iskur”:  Cai Qing, Ren Qian, Shen Yun, Johannes Gerard, PonTon

22.07, 18:00-23:00, Depot Poduene: all other artists, White Flower


Photo credit – Performance Chelsea Coon WATF 2016, photo by Galya Yotova

DATES – 14- 23 JULY 2017
– TRAIN DEPO PODUENE- 5 ARTISTS AT RESIDENCY -https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2gqDgNTx6J-VmlTNWd2Qjl2UHM
– CULTURE HOUSE ISKUR https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2gqDgNTx6J-ZzBOdFFGYlVubVE

This year we are launching the Short Artists Residency as a continuation of our practice of socially engaged arts in alternative venues. It will be an attempt to do work in collaboration between artists on site working with: performance and installation, interactive actions including the audience and citizens around the places. The results of the residency and performance program will be on sites on 21 to 23rd of July.

Interested artists, curators or practitioners/ thinkers should send a -
- short cv /bio /resume with contacts
-with project proposal or sphere of activity during the stay or site-specific installation or performance for Depo Poduene or Culture house Iskur
- One contact of referee

Deadline 10 of June 2017

What we offer is accommodation at the Depo Poduene for 5 artists, in shared room
Possibility for other accommodation for small fee 10 Euro per day up to 5 artists https://www.facebook.com/events/444006509270092/permalink/453372788333464/

And technical assistance and rental equipment to be discussed after selection
Write to watertowerartfest@gmail.com
Selection committee:
Nia Pushkarova – Director of Water tower art fest
Co Selector: Mariko Hori
Technical assistance – Teodor Nanev and Georgi Kamburov
PR – Oli Gots

Thank you all!

Photo by Galya Yotova

link to gallery here


and …….END! For some it was an incredible opportunity and experience as it was intended to be, for others it showed a way to a different more personal approach which needs much more flexibility and understanding and engagement of one’s action in the society. In order to understand Water tower art fest you have to start with understanding the initial drive lead me to start this 10 years ago- and that is that one person alone makes a difference! we are not an institution, we are not a organization, which has an office, nor salaries and set working hours – we work 24/7 for 12 months a year in order to have this happening! Thank you all for being part of this last edition of WTAF