Though the entrance to the Institute of Contemporary Arts is at the back of an otherwise inconspicuous apartment building, this is one of the oldest un-institutional contemporary art institutions in town.
ICA is an association of some of the best known Bulgarian artists, curators and theoreticians that have more or less represented us in the field since the 90s. It moved into this space of its own a few years ago, to the delight of poets with maps pacing the peculiarities of this neighborhood.
The place is, nothing more and nothing less, an apartment: 3 white cubes locked in a no-window corner of the first floor (plus bathroom and kitchen). They have shown both aspiring Bulgarian artists and internationally acclaimed names from the region. This format is as much a funding solution as a révérence to the “apartment” exhibitions in the former Soviet block, where any art practices out of the ordinary were forced into the confines of private homes.
So far ICA averages only several exhibitions per year, but if you don’t happen to catch one, it also has the ambition of keeping an archive – those interested in Eastern European contemporary art may just ask. The gallery host is enthusiastic about conversing with visitors.
ICA also hosts what hopes to be the world’s smallest gallery – 0gms, “a gallery in a drawer”, whose other ambition is “to be always first in the alphabetized catalogues of art dealers”.