Words are actions. They can be a verdict and a punishment, and lead to strong emotional, psychological and even physical consequences. Words hurt like a knife, weigh like a rock, and leave traces deep in our memories.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Bulgaria are the constant target of verbal attacks and hate speech. Such words are not just opinions or comments, but acts of violence.

For this work Valentinov was inspired by the book How To Do Things With Words by the English philosopher John Austin, according to which "saying something is doing something". Austin problematizes the age-old assumption in philosophy that saying something is always and only just a statement of something.

In this project Valentinov makes a similar connection between verbal acts and actions. In his artistic practice Valentinov works with performance installations and that’s why it is no coincidence that he chooses to present hate speech through the real movements of physical objects in the exhibition space. Utilizing examples from mechanics, he creates minimalist "performative" objects as analogies for causal relationships. Valentinov believes that through physical participation and experiences, visitors can be emotionally engaged with the subject.

The exhibition is produced by Fine Acts as part of their campaign Love Speech against hate speech in Bulgaria.

With joint efforts we can lift the burden and become stronger against the pressure of hatred. The expression "the tongue has no bones, but it is strong enough to break a heart" speaks of the power of words and their effect. A system of several pulleys is used in this installation, which reduces the effort necessary to lift the weights.

In this case, the negative consequences accumulate with the participation of each individual. The pendulum ball gradually shatters the glass – as each case of hate speech intensifies the emotional consequences for the individual at whom it is directed.

With a small and harmless action, we can create damage on an unexpected scale – similarly to online hatred, where a comment can inflict serious damage to the "real" lives of thousands of people.

From an early age, many children have been brought up through games and skills so they can compete with others. Using a number of methods, they are taught that the main way to win is through a demonstration of physical strength.

This exhibition was created with the financial support of Active Citizens Bulgaria Fund within the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for its content rests with the Fine Acts Foundation and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this exhibition reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Operator of Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria. More about Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria:

Interactive installation; steel, steel ropes, rope, rock, plywood, wood, paint, rubber, glass, fabric, metal cannonball; dimensions variable.

Technical assistance by
Maria Mihailova and Stoyan Dechev

Photographs by
Mihail Novakov