From Feb. 1 to Mar. 1, Gallery 1855 at the Davis Cemetery will present Archive of Abandoned Dreams, a photography showcase by Bulgarian-born, Texas-based artist Ellie Ivanova. A free opening reception will take place on Feb. 8 from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring an appearance by Ivanova herself.
The series consists of black-and-white portraits that celebrate moments Ivanova holds dearly. However, Ivanova does not use photography to merely capture existing memories. Rather, she brings to life the spirits of her personal history, from fairytales recited by her grandmother to the poetry of Bulgarian symbolist Dimcho Debelyanov.
“[My photographs] are, in many ways, interpretations of faraway memories and personal stories that I stumble across,” Ivanova said.
Such fairy tales and personal stories encompass themes of fortune, justice and supernatural forces that, despite not belonging to Ivanova, paved the way she approaches life. Archive of Abandoned Dreams thus makes a reality out of Ivanova’s nostalgia for the unknown.
“For me, nostalgia is the painful necessity for re-experiencing past events,” Ivanova said. “I like the untranslatable German term, ‘sehnsucht,’ [which is] almost like a phantom sensation of lost things that you felt were a part of you physically.”
The photographs featured in the exhibit were taken with old Eastern European film cameras to honor the earlier worldviews of those who’ve inspired Ivanova, such as her parents and grandparents. With photography’s demand for certainty, Ivanova described capturing her mystifying muses as challenging, yet intellectually inspiring.
“By choosing to focus on dreams and beliefs, I am simultaneously constrained by the impossibility and liberated by it too,” Ivanova said. “Because photography is expected to represent the real, it gives me the eerie emotional assurance that [photographing scenes] I don’t have access to, like my grandmother’s stories, [can] stay with me.”
While Archive of Abandoned Dreams takes a close look at Ivanova’s world, it simultaneously creates an engaging atmosphere for viewers. Gallery 1855 superintendent Joe Cattarin specifically noted the exhibit’s captivating power.
“I enjoy the stark imagery that creates a story [left] to the viewer to interpret,” Cattarin said.
Gallery 1855 curator Kristi Dvorak expressed her excitement for the exhibition, describing Ivanova’s work as a fresh perspective for the world of art.
“[Ivanova’s] work is a great asset to the Gallery 1855 and [the faculty is] thrilled to be able to present her work to the community,” Dvorak said. “It’s her embracing of the past with the future that is so exciting.”
If you are interested in perusing the Archive of Abandoned Dreams, stop by Gallery 1855 at 820 Pole Line Rd. More information is available at the gallery’s website.
Photo by Ellie Ivanova