The photographic scene in Bulgaria has been growing vastly in the past years. More and more people turn to the medium of photography in order to document personal and collective stories, as well as their own view on the world. We have put a list of the nine shortlisted photographers who sent their work to our open call in collaboration with Brighton Photo Fringe. Some of them explore their own emotions through the eyes of strangers, others capture current global and social issues and some use the camera as a way of performance. Their work along with others who did not make it to the Bulgarian Showcase shown at the closing event of Brighton Photo Fringe is also featured on our Google Chrome Extension. Download for free.
Through her work Mia Novakova captures the post-Soviet leftovers merged with the new consumerism culture of Bulgaria and particularly her hometown Plovdiv. Using surreal and saturated colours she creates dreamy and illusionary landscapes, focusing on architecture, self-portrait, neon lights, silhouettes and glimpses of the everyday life. Working with expired film also adds to the layers of dystopia and science-fiction which emerges through her photographs.
The University of Westminster graduate, Poleta Ianeva explores her constant need to capture dance. Ianeva begins to experiment with photography and performance by including dance in the everyday life, in home and through the mundane rituals and experiences. The performance breaks the boundaries of home and routines, changing the landscape of the spaces in which it occurs.
Lubov Cheresh was born in Moldova and moved to Bulgaria with her family at a young age and has lived there ever since. Merging her design ideas with the medium of photography, Cheresh pushes the boundaries of performance, while aiming to inform the viewer for various global problems. In her series, The Mother Plastic the photographer investigates issues in relation to environmental pollution of the Black Sea. After spending some time on a beach on the seaside of Bulgaria, Cheresh found a piece of nylon under the beige sand and attempted to pick it up. This led to the discovery of meters long nylon spread underneath the beach. Digging it up she decided to use the found material to create a series of hazy portraits.
Plamen Yankov was born in Bulgaria and studied in Dresden, Germany. In his project Bulgarian DNA he has created a typological exploration of the variety of popular foods he consumes. Looking back at his past eating habits and present ones, he started to perceive these foods as DNA sequences. Presenting the images in grids aims to also reference the formation of the double DNA chain. This body of work begins to provoke a dialogue with the viewer on how traditions are anchored and coded within one self.
Eray Birolov’s breath taking black and white photographs explore the individual enunciations of solitude. The Bulgarian-born filmmaker and photographer is often gazing at loneliness not simply as an emotional state, but as a permanent situation unfolding the lives of people. Birolov’s interest is in the uncontrollable circumstances that provoke solitude – he is not aiming to present it as a negative experience, but rather to explore the complex and constructive nature of it.
Visiting the village Idomeni in Greece during 2016, Teodor Teodorov stumbles upon the biggest refugee camp in Europe for that period of time. Idomeni is situated very close to Macedonia, on his way the photographer finds the temporary homes of the refugees on the farm lands near the borders. Spending two days at the camp, he focused on the children who inhabited these spaces. Teodorov not only became an insider, but also his images are capable of encompassing the innocence and hope glued to the faces of his subjects.
Alexander Stanishev is a Bulgarian cinematographer with an extensive career working in the film, music and advertisement industry. He has also turned his creativity towards photography, capturing melancholy, loneliness, dark humour and the absurd. His photographs work as a continuation of his filmmaking, creating a narrative within each one of them. Using photography as therapy, escaping from the everyday life and problems, he captures the moments of depression and melancholy, where he also finds true beauty.
Maximilian Pramatarov’s work is based on personal experiences and encounters as a European citizen. In Confrontations down the E80, Pramatarov records a journey down an A-Class West-East European route. Unfortunately, the only area with insufficient road infrastructure in an inevitable decline is around Turkey and Bulgaria. Visiting these forgotten spaces, he prefers to photograph them uninhabited and empty, focusing on the lack of beings one begins to see different things in the highway landscapes.
Concentrating on the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia, the documentary photographer Rossen Kuzmanov continues to develop his ongoing project Sofia, Mirrors and Windows. Working in black and white film, Kuzmanov collects a personal visual record of his environment whilst searching for glimpses of beauty in the fractured city. Sofia is seen through mirrors and windows making the viewer question the relationship between the many realities of daily life.