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1991

Fred Forest Président de la TV nationale bulgare

Invited to the Locarno Electronic Arts Festival, Fred Forest met Rossen Milev, journalist and researcher at the BalkanMedia association in Sofia.

Communication  Criticism and Ethics  Politics 

Sofia (BG)

Theme: Communication

Typology: Animation, Performance

Medium and media: Média, Presse

1991

Fred Forest Président de la TV nationale bulgare

1991

Fred Forest Président de la TV nationale bulgare

1991

Info 1ère Chaîne Bulgare

Fred Forest Président de la TV nationale bulgare
1991
Fred Forest Président de la TV nationale bulgare
Fred Forest Président de la TV nationale bulgare
1991
Fred Forest Président de la TV nationale bulgare
Info 1ère Chaîne Bulgare
1991
Info 1ère Chaîne Bulgare

Fred Forest Chairman of Bulgarian National TV

Invited to the Locarno Festival of Electronic Arts, Fred Forest met Rossen Milev, a journalist and researcher at the BalkanMedia Association in Sofia. Milev invited him to come to Bulgaria to do a project. Enthusiastic, he accepted and shortly afterwards they agreed on the project. The action would consist of the artist standing as a candidate for the post of President General of Bulgarian TV, which was up for renewal. Rossen Milev assured Fred Forest that he had the support of a large number of local media and journalists to make this a truly national operation. Fred Forest has a full month to develop a campaign and draft the various texts required. He based his action on information given to him by Rossen Milev by telephone from Sofia. In due course, he plans a visit to the monasteries, a trip to the province of Plovdiv, the launch of a football match, etc., as well as a cavalcade through the city of Plovdiv. He also planned an American-style cavalcade of majorettes and convertible cars through the streets of Sofia, and a brass band to welcome him at the airport.
Quickly dissuaded on the spot by his team, who explained that majorettes were not part of Bulgarian culture, they offered him in exchange a dozen horsemen with their mounts, which are usually used for filming TV westerns. As a vehicle, he was given an armoured Zil, currently being refurbished, which had been used by the previous Head of State, topped by a seat on the roof used by TV for filming.
As soon as he arrived, Fred Forest was taken to the Maison de la presse (the central news centre where all official press conferences are held) to be interviewed by journalists for the evening news of the two channels. Just as he reached the faded luxury Hotel Bulgaria, his team excitedly called him on the phone to tell him that Ognan Saparev, the official TV President and his rival in the forthcoming elections, had taken up the challenge put to him by the 'Frenchman' for a televised debate!
Throughout his campaign, the artist wore a pair of pink glasses that he never took off. On the sound advice of his cabinet, Saparev finally decided not to take on Fred Forest for a TV debate at a time when the opposition press was stepping up its criticism of the man who represented the regime. Fred Forest asked his friends for an ambulance and white coats to go to the TV station where he gave Saparev the following message, which he hastily improvised, leaning on the TV station's front door: "Mr Saparev, you should know that the power of the imagination lies far above bureaucracy and political power, and that you must always be able to see birds flying over the horizon...".
The next day saw the cavalcade down Vitosha Boulevard. Fred Forest, surrounded by his entourage on horseback, TVs strapped to their backs, antennae at arm's length like halberds, rode from the USSR House of Culture towards the Parliament... in front of astonished passers-by on the pavements, some of whom were aware of his project and gave him a few friendly signs.
A friend has just whispered in his ear that he must leave immediately for the airport
without even having time to collect his belongings from the hotel. Fred Forest will have to come to terms with the fact that he will never be President of Bulgarian TV. He has no regrets, however, as it was never his intention to run for such a position but only to carry out an artistic-critical communication operation on the scale of an entire country, which he feels he has fully succeeded in doing.

Concept

An artist competes with a Bulgarian political figure, Ognan Saparev, for the post of... President of Bulgarian National Television! Forest's aim is to take hold of a given socio-political situation that is developing, to make it his own, to hijack its codes, procedures and means, to produce meaning at another level.
Actively supported by Bulgarian opposition journalists at a time when the communist regime that had been in place for over forty years was beginning to falter (the Berlin Wall had not yet fallen and the satellite countries were still under Soviet domination), Fred Forest was invited to Sofia by the Yanco Sakazov Foundation. While there, the artist led a public campaign to run for the position of director of Bulgarian Television, which was up for renewal. Unashamedly, he is the official candidate for the BTV1 and BTV2 channels. His presence in the media, particularly on the small screen in programmes attracting large audiences, suddenly made him an "unavoidable" opponent of the Communist regime still in place under the recycled name of socialist renewal. Ognan Saparev, the incumbent candidate running for re-election to his own mandate, need look no further! Against the backdrop of the Bulgarian umbrella and white-collar barbouzes, candidate Forest is subject to various pressures, including those of the Quai d'Orsay, which are being exerted from Paris via the French Ambassador on the spot... Fred Forest challenges his opponent to a televised face-to-face meeting. The latter, against all odds, initially accepts in public, only to recuse himself in the end! His daily appearances in the media and at his meetings were punctuated by a series of often amusing twists and turns. It should be pointed out that Fred Forest presented a very elaborate television project, which was published in the Bulgarian press. He is campaigning for a television that is participatory, citizen-based and... nervous! To his credit, he claims to be proposing an unprecedented model for which Bulgaria would be the laboratory.
Make no mistake about it: the situation is white-hot. The imminence of the political elections for the renewal of the members of Parliament is creating an electric (cathodic) climate of growing tension. In this context, the media interventions of the artist, now wearing his legendary pink glasses on every television appearance, were perceived as ever greater provocations. From electoral tours of provincial towns to visits to monasteries, as well as his presence at stadiums for the kick-off to which he is invited, the artist, a true professional in communication, never misses an opportunity to boost his popularity and image. At the time, not a single Bulgarian was supposed to be unaware of the existence of this French artist, who had the idea of running Bulgarian television and, in a way, inventing a new way of making television...
The highlight for the artist will be the parade that will take him to Parliament, perched on an official car, surrounded by a Praetorian Guard, whose extras on horseback hold up television aerials. A soldiery requisitioned at the last minute, in the absence of majorettes... who, alas, are nowhere to be found in Sofia. Riders who will be none other than the actors in a western filmed for the needs of... television; and whose generous contribution to the 'other' television advocated by the artist. After a final intervention, aimed at forcing entry to Saparev's office at the television headquarters, Forest was invited within the hour to board the plane back to Paris... his 'safety' could no longer be guaranteed!

Device

Inherent elements of an electoral press campaign: leaflets, posters, meetings, speeches, media appearances.

TEXT BY PIERRE RESTANY 

Fred Forest's candidacy for the presidency of Bulgarian National Television is motivated by an immense cultural challenge. The utopian television project he is presenting fits perfectly into the operational perspective of his research into the aesthetics of communication. No one is better placed than he to draw up a utopian communication program, artistic and edgy, based on the imagination of a national community in full expressive freedom on all fronts.

The time has come for Bulgaria to throw off the totalitarian straitjacket that has, until now, stifled all its information channels and paralyzed all creative initiatives. The country has a long tradition, a long history and a strong identity. It is from its own capital that it must draw the vital energies of renewal. The resources of human imagination are not lacking. What Fred Forest is proposing is a flexible model for freeing minds, an interactive model where nothing is imposed, and everything is allowed, provided you have ideas.

Bulgaria today has its back against the wall. It owes it to itself to be daring, to have ideas. It has only one choice: either poetic invention or mortal stagnation. Everything has to start from scratch, and to do that, a liberating wind has to blow. Fred Forest is the catalyst. His intervention is intended to arouse the creative energies that exist but are momentarily dormant. In a way, it could be called communication therapy.

What is utopia, if not optimistic reflection on the possible conditions for a better world?

Fred Forest's action is a revealing electroshock.

If his public demonstrations in Sofia give even a handful of men of good will a glimpse that life can be more beautiful because reality, perceived in an imaginative, generous and original way, surpasses all bad fictions, then he will have won his bet as a "man of the heart", as Yves Klein, the monochrome painter and great seer of twentieth-century Europe's cultural revolution, likes to say. As for Forest, he may well play his part in the revolutions to come that will mark the nascent 21st century and its mutations.

Fantasy in information plays the role of chance in mathematics, and this is how new means of measurement, calculation and knowledge are born. The unique and exceptional strength of the human brain lies in the measure of its excess. Fred Forest's Bulgarian experiment takes on its full meaning at this essential and elementary level. I fully grasp its human significance, and that's why I'm totally committed "from head to heart" to his project: the project of a responsible man who finds here the ideal opportunity to put his theory to the test of facts. The beauty of the aesthetics of communication lies in its truth. There can be no truth without freedom of the mind: such is the direct essence of democracy in communication.

Our common action, Fred Forest's and mine, is identified with an act of faith and an act of love: an act of faith in man and an act of love towards Bulgaria, a country that stands at a crossroads, and becomes the repository of an immense hope for freedom in creativity.

The whole destiny of free, democratic, interactive communication between people can be played out in Sofia between October 2 and 9, 1991.

Long live UTOPIC TELEVISION,

Pierre Restany

September 1991

  • " Proclamation sur la T.V. utopique de Fred Forest ", Pierre Restany
  • " Fred Forest : une T.V. utopique pour les Bulgares ", Isabelle Nataf
  • " Pour une télévision utopique et nerveuse " Broadcast, Paris, novembre 1991
  • " Entre Einsenstein, Bunuel et Fellini " par Nedeltcho Milev, Directeur du département de la télévision du cinéma et de la vidéo, université de Sofia, Literaturen forum, Sofia, 29 octobre 1991
  • " Journal télévisé " de 20 heures, BTV1, Sofia, 2 octobre 1991
  • " Journal télévisé " de 22 heures, BTV2, Sofia, 2 octobre 1991
  • " Forest Président ! ", Nedeltcho Milev, Art-Press International, Paris, février 1992
  • " Fred Forest ", Kanal Europe, Paris, octobre/novembre 1991
  • " Fred Forest Président ", film de 20 minutes, Stefan Zwetkof, produit par Zebra Production, Varsovie, 1991
  • " Fred Forest, Président ", clips vidéo produit par Héléna Ovhstoff, Paris, 1991
  • " Fred Forest, Président " par Nedeltcho Milev, Communications et langages, N° 91, Paris, mai 1991
  • " Émission T.V. sur BTV1 avec Todor Petev, Uremena I Khora, Sofia, novembre 1991
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare
FF Président de la TV nationale bulgare

 

LONG BIOGRAPHY OF FRED FOREST

Fred Forest has a special place in contemporary art. Both by his personality and by his pioneering practices which mark his work. He is mainly known today for having used one by one most of the communication media that have appeared over the last fifty years. He is co-founder of three artistic movements: those of sociological art, the aesthetics of communication and ethics in art.

He represented France at the 12th São Paulo Biennale (Communication Prize) in 1973, at the 37th Venice Biennale in 1976 and at Documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977.

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