Ups and Downs of Culture
Robert-Koch-Park, Leipzig, Germany, 1985
In 1985, Viktor Todorov was invited to participate in an international plein air exhibition in Leipzig, Germany. This was the third international En plein air for sculpture in Leipzig under the motto “Man-Nature-City-Environment”. The Plein Air was held under the artistic direction of Otto Berndt Steffen. The site was at Agra – an area in the southern part of Leipzig with an exhibition center, an event venue, a trade fair, as well as the eponymous Agra Park with a total area of 190 hectares. Artists from Bulgaria, former Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and the GDR (former East Germany) participated. The created sculptures were placed and exhibited in Robert-Koch Park in Leipzig. (Link to Wikipedia)
At the moment, the individual sculptures from the plein air have no insignia or plaques placed on them, which makes determining their authorship difficult or impossible. Fortunately, there is preserved information in the book “Leipzig’s greenery, a guide to parks and gardens” by Petra Mewes and Peter Benecken (Benecken, Peter; Mewes, Petra: Leipzigs Grün, Ein Park- und Gartenführer von Petra Mewes und Peter Benecken). Another source of information is an article about the plein air in Agra Park in Leipziger Hefte, Volume 6, from 1985, but at the time of publication, we do not have access to it.
The photo of Viktor Todorov’s sculpture ”Ups and Downs of Culture”, which is attached here, is from an article in Grün-AS 10/2008 (a district magazine). Special thanks to the Department of Green Area Management at the Office for Urban Green Areas and Waters of the City of Leipzig for their assistance in providing information.
The sculptural composition in “Ups and Downs of Culture” symbolizes the “rise and fall of culture” – this could easily serve as an alternative title for the work from 1985 in Leipzig. The sculpture, visually and with physical presence and weight, questions and criticizes. On the one hand, it draws attention to the existential anxiety about the meaning and the desired place of culture in the context of human civilization, and on the other, it focuses on the specific historical moment and the place of its creation. We all take it for granted that culture is the superstructure and crown of life and human activity. But is it really so? Do we pay due attention to works of culture and art, to their authors, to the message?
Through the fallen head, Viktor Todorov shows both the dynamics of social processes and the fragility, the degradation of culture to a starting position – low, to the level of lumpenism and mediocrity. The small rock beneath the head, serving as a support to increase the angle, winks – despite everything the direction of the gaze must stay true. Information about the monument can be found in the PDF file here: