IRINA TOMOVA / ERKA

MONUMENT #1

2017

 
Photo: Mihail Novakov

Photo: Mihail Novakov

 

MONUMENT #1 is a series of sculptures by the Bulgarian artist and designer Erka, created in collaboration with Fine Acts. The work seeks to raise awareness about the lack of monuments honouring notable women in Bulgaria - a EU member state.

The brightly-coloured busts were placed at some of the most central locations across Sofia during a covert early-morning action on Wednesday, March 22.

According to official data from the Sofia municipality, there are no monuments of women historical figures in the city, and less than 6% of all memorials (most of which plaques) are dedicated to women.

 
Photo: Mihail Novakov

Photo: Mihail Novakov

Photo: Mihail Novakov

Photo: Mihail Novakov

 

“The key point of the intervention is to reclaim public space. Public space, much like history, belongs to women too - this is why we want to assert our rightful place. In Bulgaria’s past there are many incredible, inspiring women, but their accomplishments are erased from public memory”, says Erka.

“The sculptures are a portrait of me. I wanted to take a strong personal, public stance as a contemporary woman and artist and say - enough. However, they are also anonymous, as they do not bear my name, just a sign: “The first monument of a woman in Sofia”. In these sculptures I am every woman. With this work I want to give women what they are entitled to but have been denied for decades - a place, visibility and recognition”, says the artist.

The problem with women-free public space is not reserved to Bulgaria.

Currently UK’s Invisible Women campaign aims to challenge the staggering inequality in numbers of civic statues of women and men. A recent campaign in New York protests the fact that presently there are no statues honoring women in Central Park. An edict passed by the Kreuzberg district in Berlin, Germany, requires that streets and public places be named for women until parity is reached with men.

The lack of monuments, honouring historic women, enhances the wrong perception that women have no valuable accomplishments or that they have not contributed to the development of society.

 
 

For this art intervention Fine Acts teamed up with the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), the country’s leading human rights group, and got the support of the ad agency Tribal Worldwide Sofia.

The intervention shone a spotlight on a problem that somehow remained unquestioned for decades, stirred up a huge public debate, and got thousands of people engaged.

Read more about the work on our blog.

 
 

 
 

Erka (or Irina Tomova) is born in Svishtov, Bulgaria. She graduated in painting from the Veliko Tarnovo University. In her work, for years she has been focusing on street art and graffiti. For the past 10 years she has served as designer and art director in some of the biggest advertising agencies in the country.