The BAZA Award for contemporary art was established in 2008. The award’s statistics include: nine successfully completed fellowships of Bulgarian artists in New York City, forty-three exhibition nominees, 277 submitted portfolios, and 27 artists, curators and representatives of institutions who acted as members of the jury.
Currently BAZA is considered the most authoritative contemporary art contest in Bulgaria, which is arguably the most selective award, also associated with certain responsibilities. One of them is the opportunity for a solo exhibition in the gallery of the Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia. The New York City fellowship is complemented by a dynamic program including exhibition visits, meetings with curators, and other events where artists present their work. BAZA is also the highest award in financial terms, covering a trip to, and a two-month residency in New York City with kind support from the Foundation for Civil Society, New York (http://fcsny.org/?page_id=14).
The exhibition aims to present each nominee in the best possible light. Artists present mostly new works, specifically created for the contest, or works created in the past year.
The jury’s choice of a winner is based on various criteria, namely: recognizing new names without ignoring nominees from previous years, who show promise; nominees’ competitiveness on the international art scene; their basic knowledge of 20th century art, and the relevance of their work to the world of today.
The jury’s choice of a winner is based on a procedure comprising two stages, the first one including the nomination of artists for participation in an exhibition based on their portfolios, and selection of a winner based on the latter’s portfolio and performance at the exhibition. The second session of the jury, where the final decision is made, takes place shortly before the exhibition opening.
Members of the 2017 jury are: Boshko Boskovic (program director of Residency Unlimited, New York), Peter Tzanev (artist and art instructor), Stefka Tsaneva (curator), Vera Mlechevska (curator), Vladiya Mihaylova (curator)
BAZA Award winners include: Rada Boukova (2008), Samuil Stoyanov (2009), Anton Terziev (2010), Vikenti Komitski (2011), Leda Ekimova (2012), Kiril Kuzmanov (2013), Zoran Georgiev (2014), Alexandra Chaushova (2015), and Dimitar Shopov (2016).
The BAZA award winner for 2017 is Martina Vacheva.