ON TRACK by Marie Civikov - 19 may - 10 june 2018

With On Track Marie Civikov shows a series of works based on stories that came out through researching her family history, which partly took place in Bulgaria.

The part she investigated concerns the family of her fathers side and goes three generations back, starting with her great grandfather, Veliko Genov Lipnikliev. 

Born from a family of farmers in Lipnik, around 1890 he moved to Ruse together with his wife Tonka. Next to the Danube and the first railway line in Bulgaria (to Varna) where he was employed, they settled down and built the house where his four children and later on two grandchildren would be born and raised.

Especially for those times this family was compact and relatively small in size. On the other hand, their activity in following their ideals was big and crossed European borders, turbulent times and dramatic events. In all of this, each family member was (is) the center of it's own story, connected with the others like routes on a land map.

There's Panayot Civikov, whose name is carried by the artist. Quite literally, as out of unclear reason he is the one who, together with his brothers, made the change from their former family name Lipnikliev.

Being his granddaughter, her interest in Panayot, an anarchist, poet and writer who joined the Spanish civil war, was the first reason for Civikov to start this project.

The installation Civikov shows at Aether mainly consists of painted narratives. Like the routes on the land map they connect, but not effortlessly. By entering the cellar, following Freud the place of the unconscious mind, you’ll be given some hints that will bring you closer to solving the puzzle.

A puzzle, I can already reveal, that not only takes place in the past, but as we're all making history this very moment, will be an extension into the present as well.

The title "On Track" firstly refers to the fact that this project is (and maybe will stay) in an intermediate phase of a longer-running research, secondly to the amount of media in which Panayot Civikov and others memorized his memoirs a.o. cassette tapes, and finally to the place where it all began; at the edge of the railway in Ruse.


Before the map unfolds and connections are drawn in different directions, the works silently speak, looking at you in a certain familiar gentle way, comforting, erasing traces of struggle, inviting you to transform, become a witness, a listener. And there unexpectedly, we get drowned. A fundamental question arises: Who are we?

Through story telling, adaptations and archives the Dutch born and raised Marie Civikov makes a journey through her family history and her present life, seeking to unravel an emotional state, formed by events from the past and the present, entangled by coincidences, connections of internal logic and ideology. Within this she's not only portraying people and figures of the narrative, but in that proposition something else happens as well we tend to forget as a reward for a devious treatment. Regardless the problematic times the poet Panayot Civikov has to challenge in his lifetime, of uneasy path of feed and fight, loneliness and longing, the choice of the artist is clear; it escapes the judgment and the political accent the story brings along. On the contrary, she consciously attempts to mask it and intuitively returns to the basics and the simplicity of the human condition; the need to love, be loved and be free. Freedom always appears as a new construct, often conditioned, remaining a constant element in each of the personages, travelling, being passed from one to another, lost and found in DNA, hidden and looked for, almost like a game. The only difference is, the stakes here have the price of life. A world of symbols, language and words, becoming the new type of document of which we are left to work with, re-imagine and foresee in time the constellation that will bring the peace back to the souls.



Statement Marie Civikov


Quoting George Orwell's 1984: "For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable - what then?" I believe our mind contains many closed doors, which in our lifetime cannot all be opened and I'm curious what's behind them.


I'd like to get used opening doors to different possibilities in my work more like a second nature; everything seems possible. Exploring this "everything", both in content and in form, in this tiny particle of art called painting, I believe still can be an endless journey. This doesn't mean other media don't catch my interest. The door is open and it's just a matter of time before they're demanding a place in my vocabulary more actively.


A subject that's always more or less present in my work is the unknown of death. During my childhood sometimes I had fear dreams about death. These were abstract dreams of dark coloured wires floating towards me through space. They occurred when lying in bed or on the couch, preferably with feverish flu. With my eyes open I saw them approaching me. At first they were straight and even, which gave them a kind of reassuring quality but what I always tried to avoid at such a time (by thinking “stay calm, stay straight”), inevitably happened: soon the wires were tangled together, became heavier and pressed on my blanket and that meant death.


Since a couple of years these knots of wires often are visible in my work.

They don't as much symbolize the fear of death, but more the inevitability and mystery death brings with itself.

Does anything of our spiritual being remain when we're physically not here anymore? And if so, is it possible for us, people who love each other, to meet somewhere?

On the other hand, more concrete subjects concerning nowadays western society catch the same amount of my interest. These two, the physical and the metaphysical, I find interesting to combine in my work. My intention is to convert the personal and private as closely as possible in a visual language that makes outsiders curious and permits them in a world they do not know: identification nor recognition are my goals; it's rather about rapprochement by wonder.