Stefan Donchev: Function Hope

Function Hope

Stefan Donchev

28-05-2021 until 16-07-2021

Function Hope can be seen at

Stefan Donchev has a unique way of infusing life-like characteristics into his artworks, works that often mock human effort to examine, communicate, and master the world around us.

His interactive installation Cylia with metal stalks (2015) required petting and stroking until it deemed you worthy of a reply, which would come as an abstract image printed on a tiny cash-register receipt, as if to underline the value of the attempted exchange.

In Purring Grass (2016), Stefan merged the most important characteristics of grass and cats; easy to look after and they purr when you pet them.

His Perpetual Sorting Machine (2018) is an enormous, slow-moving device that attempts to create order in a field of black and white cards, only to start again once it is finished. The work reminds us of the Sisyphean labour that is our own effort to make sense of the world around us.

For Function Hope, his new work created especially for this exhibition at gallery Gallery, Stefan sets his sights on hope as the driving force behind all human effort. The work is a cross between a computer simulation and early computer games. A dot is created with a certain amount of hope or expectation for its short life. As the dot sets out on a path across our screen, it starts to lose hope at every bump, turn or revisit of a screen location it had already visited. What begins as a decisive start with a clear direction, very quickly becomes endless squirming in a tiny corner of the vast world of potential that is our screen.

Function Hope comes at an interesting moment in time when most of those around us have spent the last 14 months hoping that the pandemic would miraculously end in some foreseeable future and we would “all go back to how things were before”. Much like this sort of hope, the dots in Function Hope only consider the immediate space around them and the strength of their hope when deciding whether to move more or less straight ahead. The lower the dot is on hope, the more it will deviate from the straight path.

In Stefan’s work, hope is not motivated by a long-term vision or grand plan, there is no view of a future in terms of success or fulfilment. There is no personal happiness, no greater good, no redemption, no love that binds hope and faith. There is only an impulsive judgement in the here and now, which can ultimately only lead to disappointment and loss. Hope is a consumable that we inevitably run out of.

Back on our screen, hitting the reload button on our browser frees the little critter from its suffering, only for it to repeat the process all over again.

Stefan Donchev graduated from the MA programme in Digital Arts at the Academy of Arts in Sofia. He is an artist-inventor who has since taken part in exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad, including Hello World (2012, at Vaska Emanuilova Gallery, Sofia), (h)ear experimental audio research (2014, Parkstad Limburg, Netherlands), Being Post-Digital (2015, during Design Week 2015, Plovdiv), Friendly Little Creatures (2016, at Credo Bonum Gallery, Sofia, Contemporary Space Gallery, Varna and U10 gallery, Belgrade), Electric Dreams (2019, Gallery 359, Sofia), Telelink Contemporary Art Award (2019, Telelink headquarters, Sofia). In 2018, his solo exhibition Bodies that Generate Images took place at The Fridge (Sofia).