Zhana Ivanova

Zhana Ivanova’s performance practice involves rearranging and reconfiguring patterns and structures to which we have grown accustomed. Language plays a key role, and power relations are of central interest. Her constructions are formal and rule-governed; yet within them she insistently exposes the ambiguity of her own rules.

Zhana was born in Bulgaria, immigrated with her mother to England in the early 90’s, and is now living in Amsterdam since many years. She completed postgraduate programs at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten and DasArts in Amsterdam. Her work is represented by Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam. 

Presentations include a.o. Kunsthalle Basel, ARCO Madrid, Elevation 1049 - Gstaad, De Appel - Amsterdam, Fondation D’Enterprise Ricard - Paris, Playground Festival - Leuven, Mendes Wood DM - Sao Paulo, Centre Pompidou - Paris, DRAF - London, Lafayette Anticipations – Paris.

“Ongoing Retrospective” is a cumulative exhibition of Zhana’s work at Kunsthalle Basel, taking place periodically in the form of chapters since 2015.


Writing is a large part of my practice, descriptive language being one of the main writing modes. I see many of my performative works as sets of conditions for this language to generate images, psychological states, tensions and transformations. My style of writing resembles forensic reporting – insistently repeating and reaffirming what is there, and what is to be seen. Within this excess of affirmation, I feel the object becomes a symbol of sorts. A space opens up for what is not there to take form and somehow transcend any emerging narrative or time frame.

Currently my focus is on two operational modes recurrent through my practice - description and repetition. I am aiming to examine them as potentially transformative forces, propelling perception, meaning and sensation forward, and in surprising directions and proportions. I am exploring how the inclusion of primary script as part of a performative construction establishes a tension between what is intended, what is imagined and what is actually happening. 

I am approaching this research from three main angles: 
– dramaturgical - employing description and repetition as means for creating spaces situated between what is in the world and what is in language
– literary – relating to genres such as the 1950’s Nouveau Roman, a type of novel where character and plot are secondary and instead the details of the world take central place
– algorithmic - concerning the realm of machine learning and neural networks, and more specifically deep learning algorithms designed for image processing.


Personal Website: www.zhanaivanova.com
Representing Gallery: Ellen de Bruijne Projects
Kunsthalle Basel: Ongoing Retrospective