Artist Daniel Bozhkov’s visit to New Paltz tackled a great deal of themes, ranging from science and Darth Vader to colonialism and globalization.
Bozhkov’s art is mostly conceptual, with a great focus on performance and installation. Some of his previous works include acting as a Walmart greeter, crafting a cologne for Ernest Hemingway and most recently crafting and living in a loft in a coworker’s office. He says that his art is “a reaction to artists being trained as members of the elite.” In other words, art should be accessible for all, regardless of economic or social class. Art is whatever anyone wishes for it to be, and to place boundaries upon something as fluid as art is deeply harmful.
Bozhkov is deeply interested in the concept of Negative Hallucination, which he discussed at length. Negative Hallucination is when one fails to see something that is present, as opposed to regular hallucination being visions of things which are not present.
Additionally, Bozhkov discussed his time in Hong Kong and how this experience made his art more focused on globalization and colonialism. The strange remnants of European culture in the city, which is itself a political and cultural microcosm, registered an otherworldly feel to Bozhkov. This inspired him to make works using said remnants, such as bagpipe players. He also displayed a work of his from the early 2000s that has since become relevant again; this work was entitled “Flag”, and captured him answering out loud questions from the United States citizenship test. With the current fear and demonization of immigrants in our country, the piece aims to remind of the difficulties of becoming a full citizen and the respect immigrants deserve.
Bozhkov’s more recent work is centered at the University of Texas at Austin, where he paired with scientists to study the links between science and art. Bozhkov says that “when you’re an artist, you are working even when you’re asleep; scientists just don’t sleep.” He built a primitive loft, with nothing more than a desk and bed, in his colleague’s office and lived in it for three months. He didn’t elaborate on the purpose of this project, other than to say that it was a test for himself. He also touched briefly on his interest in aperture and holes, things passing between each other; for instance, he told a story about how coyotes can pass between the real and spirit world by inverting their bodies through their anuses. I must say, this was a wholly new concept for me.
All in all, Bozhkov’s art is intriguingly absurdist. He currently teaches at Hunter College and can be found on Instagram as @bozhkov.daniel.