Maria Nalbantova
Black Bears for White Days / White Bears for Black Days, 2016

photo by Dimitar Variysky
2016 | Black Bears for White Days / White Bears for Black Days

Pop-up author picture book
digital print, glue, canvas
26 pages, 22 х 22 сm, limited edition set of 90 books, handmade

“Black Bears for White Days / White Bears for Black Days” is an artwork, which presents its idea through the capabilities of pop-up books and space. The main topic focuses on traditional proverbs, an integral part of the Bulgarian folklore. Accompanied the people throughout the centuries, shared from mouth to mouth, carries the centuries-old, experience-based wisdom of life, they teach and represent that part of the language that has survived the test of time. Are these proverbs universal or a reflection of the language, the soul and the prejudices of the people? Their truthfulness is controversial, but their actuality is indisputable. They connect the far past with the recent, the present with the future.

In this book, I am using as a key concept the mechanics of wordgames, by replacing one of the words in each proverb with black or white bears, I change entirly the meaning of the original proverb. If one of the words becomes a “bear”, the initial logical meaning crumbles, but the words of the proverb leave sense of connection so strong in our minds that one immediately begins to seek the error to correct it. Thus the reader unintentionally enters the wordplay in which one must discover and decode the message. The Balkan* turns into a Bear, so that the collaborative group manages to lift it up by the force of unity, water** takes on the shape of a bear and so “drop by drop a bear is made” and the eyes*** of your loved one become two bears that easily drop out of your mind, if they’re out of your sight. The twist in the original interpretation and the underlined associations provoke the readers to discover the hidden message on their own.

The book containts twenty-six pages with illustrations and spatial three-dimensional black and white elements that could be viewed from the beginning to end and vice verse. In fact, it is impossible to determine which one is the end and which one - the beginning, since Black and White represent the two mutually complementary opposites of the same thing, meeting each other in the middle of the book where they exchange their places. The image of the bear is a major compass in Bulgarian tales and folklore, but also in world religious beliefs, mythology, heraldry, etc. The applied compositional technique, in which there is virtually no beginning and end of the book, alternates the altered proverbs and associations, white and black, truth and fiction.
Bulgarian sayings:

* A mountain can be lifted by a united group.
** Drop by a drop a sea is made.
*** Far from the eyes, far from the hearth.

from the tochitsa blog

"When, a few months ago, artist Maria Nalbantova told us what her new book was about, we were overwhelmed ... we already had two whole bear books, "When I Want to Be Silent" and "The Sicilian Bears Invasion".
And then we saw her ... and immediately there was no way we could give up.
Because we have seen such books only in the best bookstores to the best galleries in the world.
Because Maria has imagination, impeccable taste and a precise hand.
Because the book is absolutely magical.
He plays with shadows.
And it makes sense.
With the shadows of meaning!

Come see her live at the premiere of "The Feather" on September 19th!"

photos by Dimitar Variysky

“Black Bears For White Days/ White Bears For Black Days”
Original Author’s Pop-Up Picture Book

Author and Illustrator: Maria Nalbantova
presented by "Tochitza"
music by The Bedlam Club
photo by Dimitar Variysky