Instructions for realising
A Life (Black & White), 1998–

The complete work requires:

A team of two adult painters, with no special regard to their gender, race, geographical origin, social status etc. It is not necessary that they be professional painters as the use of professional painters could limit the work’s social appearance because professionals usually do not communicate in a free, easygoing way with the audience passing by. Also, by its very nature, the constant repainting of the wall space in two opposite colours with thick, undiluted paint without adequate drying time or periodic removal of built-up layers of paint is absolutely against professional painting standards. The selected amateur painters should be paid of course. The painters should wear either coveralls or overalls with their own shirts, which should not be brightly coloured. No special shoes are required. Additional shifts of painters are allowed but the painters should never change places during the working process, nor should they exchange their overalls/coveralls (for example, it would not be appropriate for the painter using black paint to start painting in white in the middle of the session).

Sufficient quantities of the best possible quality water-based paint in black and white (preferably exterior paint, which gives superior coverage). It is recommended that the paint be tested in advance for sufficient coverage etc. It is also recommended that the estimated supply of the paint for the entire project be stored in the middle of the exhibition space along with all the empty buckets/barrels of used paint and that they remain in the space until the end of the exhibition.

The necessary tools/equipment for painting: rollers, brushes (for corners and zones where rollers are inappropriate), rags, abundant supply of paper towels, moveable scaffolding and ladders (appropriate to the wall height), 2 buckets of water for storing the rollers and paint brushes at the end of the working day, 2 sets of signs (each set is comprised of 2 white cardboard signs (A4 size), one reads “10 Minutes Break” and the other  “Lunch Break” ). Each painter receives one set of signs. The signs should be prepared in advance. The text is to be in black letters, 2 cm in height, and centred on the horizontal length of the sign. If the work is performed in a non-English speaking country, the text should be translated into the local language. All of this equipment should be placed/stored within the exhibition space, preferably in the centre.

A suitable space: preferably this should be a passage-type of space, with two entries, so the public has to walk through the room and therefore becomes more engaged with the piece. It is possible that the work could be executed on a single wall or on two walls cornering each other. In these cases, the painters should follow the same basic principles for the action described herein—to follow each other and all the time the sum of the part/s painted in black should be equal to the part/s painted in white. Because of the necessary drying time for the walls, it is not recommended that the space be smaller than 50 sq. meters. The walls must be properly isolated with a primer (adequate for water-based paint) before applying the first layer of paint. Preferably, the plywood support should be thick enough (minimum 16 mm) to withstand the requirements of extended repainting. Do not use cartogesso-covered walls.

The ceiling and the floor are not areas to be painted/repainted. All “borders” of the field to be repainted must be taped properly as done in standard household painting. If additional areas within the walls need to be isolated from the paint, they should be taped and protected as well (for example, emergency exit signs). It is recommended that a professional examine the walls before starting the work and that his/her instructions be followed for preparing the supporting walls. The floor should be covered with protective plastic and if necessary new layers should be applied.

A working process: before the exhibition opens it is necessary to prepare the space, the supplies and tools, and to organise the shifts of painters. The space must be half black and half white when the exhibition opens. The pre-primed exhibition walls should be painted with one layer of black paint and over this layer a white layer should be painted that covers half of the total length of the walls. Then the space (half black, half white) is ready for work. At the opening hour of the exhibition, the two painters should start to work (it doesn’t matter if visitors are present yet or not). In general, the direction of painting should be clockwise but it is possible to be performed counter-clockwise. Once a direction is established, it must be followed for the entire duration of the action. The painters should not rush but should cover the walls in the best possible way. They can speak with the visitors while working. All the time, they must keep in mind that half of the space must be white and half must be black—that is a basic condition. The painters should receive a 10-minute break each hour and they should break separately. Before each break, the painter should place the “10 Minutes Break” sign against his/her bucket of paint and leave the room or remain there if he/she prefers. The lunch break is once per day and it lasts 30 minutes (again not to be taken at the same time). At the beginning of the lunch break, the painter places the “Lunch Break” sign against his/her bucket of paint and leaves the room or remains there if he/she prefers. It is best that the painter who remains working in the space slows down the tempo of working. The painters should work even when there are no visitors in the room. Five minutes before the daily closing of the exhibition, the painters should prepare to leave—all brushes and rollers should be placed in their respective buckets of water, the paint containers should be covered. These repainting activities must go on for the entire duration of the show—it doesn’t matter if this is for several days or for several months. The painters must paint constantly every working day. At the end of the show, the “memorabilia”—the empty paint buckets, the paint brushes and rollers, the plastic and parts of the multi-layered walls—can be kept by the actual owner of the work and used as a kind of visual/physical archive of that very instalment of the piece.

Please follow the above instructions when executing the practical details of this action rather than referring to the original handwritten A4-size project description which differs from the above.

Artist Nedko Solakov has the right to use the photo and video documentation of the different instalments of this work to create new, independent works of art.