Shirley: Visions Of Reality

National gallery


„Shirley: Visions Of Reality”
By Austrian director Gustav Deutsch
Paintings by Edward Hopper come to life in a movie


29 September (Friday), 19.30 h
Outdoor cinema behind the museum
2 Cherni vruh Blvd.




Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art and Sofia International Film Festival with the support of Austrian Embassy unite themselves for a common initiative that offers the audience a special experience – outdoor cinema and an exhibition in one night.

Paintings by Edward Hopper (1882-1967) will come to life in the movie “Shirley: Visions Of Reality” that will be screened in the yard of the Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art.

The screening starts at 19:30 h on 29 September (Friday) and the doors of the museum will be wide open to the audience in order to be able to see the exhibition of Boryana Rossa “Augmented Realism”.

“The theme of the movie as well as the exhibition is connected with the additional dimensions of the reality itself. The paintings of Edward Hopper come to life in the movie and tell a story visualized entirely in the aesthetics of the painter. The exhibition of Boryana Rossa brings diverse formats of expression through new technologies typical of the modern world”, said Nadezhda Dzhakova, curator of the exhibition and head of SAMCA.

Shirley: Visions of Reality

Austria 2013, 93 min, color

A series of snapshots from the life of a fictional actress named Shirley serves to weave together thirteen paintings by Edward Hopper (e.g. „Office at Night“, „Western Motel“, „Usherette“, „A Woman in the Sun“) into a fascinating synthesis of painting and film, personal and political history. Each station in Shirley’s professional and private life from the 1930s to 1960s is precisely dated: It is always August 28/29 of the year in question, as the locations vary from Paris to New York to Cape Cod. Shirley is a liberated woman who questions conventional relationship roles and reflects on the role of theatre and politics. Her thoughts are conveyed through internal monologues delivered in voiceover. Furthermore, every episode begins with fragments from radio news reports, which place Shirley’s personal story in relation to key events from American history over the decades (the Great Depression, the Second World War, McCarthyism, the Kennedy era, and the Civil Rights movement).

„In Austrian video artist Gustav Deutsch's Shirley: Visions of Reality (2013), pictures literally speak for themselves, with this experimental film using prominent US painter Edward Hopper's calculated renderings of American society to tell the story of a fictional actress - a prime example of art imitating art. Recreated through the guise of thirteen of Hopper's best known paintings, Deutsch has created a series of vivid snapshots which thread together into a fascinating synthesis of art and film. What we get is a unique presentation of an aspiring actress, whose trials and tribulations paint their own portrait of American history.”

 „Augmented Realism

Boryana Rossa’s exhibition is an autobiographical tale recreated through painting, photography, objects, video, drawings, and documentation of her performances. Using the autobiographical approach as a medium for self-presentation and self-expression, Boryana Rossa explores issues related to gender identity, sexuality, and social themes such as alienation, marginality, and emigration.

“Why ‘augmented realism’? In order to reflect the complexity of the interaction between social life and technology, I chose ‘Augmented Realism’ as the title of the exhibition. I consider the idea of ‘an augmented reality’, which has a tremendous impact on our contemporary culture, to be impressive. The possibility to see the world through the lens of your phone, for example, and to interact with digitally generated places and beings (as in Pokémon Go, perhaps the most popular application of ‘augmented reality’) is also an expressive visual metaphor for all our interactions with technology and how they affect our lives”, said the artist.

Boryana Rossa, born in Sofia in 1972, currently lives and works in Sofia and New York. She is an interdisciplinary artist and curator who works in the fields of electronic arts, film, video, performance and photography. In 2004, together with Russian artist and filmmaker Oleg Mavromatti, Rossa established ULTRAFUTURO, subsequently participating in numerous international exhibitions. Rossa’s performances and other works have been shown at world-famous museums and forums, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUMOK), Vienna; the Zacheta Gallery, Warsaw; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the 1st and 2nd Moscow Biennial for Contemporary Art; the 1st Balkan Biennale, Thessaloniki, and many more.

For more information:

Nadezhda Dzhakova +359 879 834 030

Danislava Delcheva, +359 887 438 293

Sofia International Film Festival