The start of the project "Awards for Contemporary Bulgarian Art by M-Tel" was made in 2005 with the adoption of a working strategy the essential objective of which was to present to a wider Bulgarian and foreign audience selected authors from the most interesting manifestations of Bulgarian artists during the past year. The information collected for the competition is discussed by a jury composed of contemporary artists and art historians, who besides being active on the international art scene are working as teachers or organizers of events in the sphere of modern art. In this way a wider debate is sparked off involving diverse viewpoints of the participants concerning the selection of each individual exhibition. An important part of the project is the publication of a catalog introducing in detail each of the selected artists. Since 2009 the jury includes also professionals who are living and working abroad.
In the four editions of the project held up to 2010 were shown works by 180 authors, selected from exhibitions during the respective year or created especially for the architectural environment of the exhibition. At the closing of each event three prizes were awarded and, in addition, works by six further authors were purchased for the collection of the largest mobile network operator in this country.
In 2006 the exhibition of the first edition of the "Awards for Contemporary Bulgarian Art by M-Tel" was held in Sofia (Gallery of the Union of Bulgarian Artists) and in Vienna (Kunstlerhaus), thus setting a precedent for expanding the project beyond the borders of Bulgaria.
In 2007 the exhibition was nominated for the Grand Prix of the Salon des Arts at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia.
The third edition of the competition took place in June 2008 in Plovdiv. The show covering some 2000 sq. meters was arranged in part of the old tobacco warehouses and the Ancient Public Baths – in rooms of the Center for Modern Art. Mark Gloede, curator of video and photography of the prestigious Art Basel festival, was a special guest of the event, presenting two author’s selections of video in the Baths and the Academy Gallery, accompanied by lectures and discussions.
In 2009 it was the turn of the city of Varna to host the yearly edition of the competition, warehouse No 7 at the industrial port being transformed into a gallery of contemporary art. A substantial part of the exhibited installations and sculptures was designed especially for the spaces of the warehouse building.
During the exhibition Ivo Dimchev staged his SOM Faves performance piece ahead of its premiere in Berlin a month later. Also during the competition, concerts were held by the Lot Lorien and Gravity Co. bands.
Curator of the project exhibition: Irina Batkova
Co-organizer: Vitosha Gallery.