Brighton Photo Fringe invited Revolv Collective to represent Bulgarian photography at this year’s festival closing ceremony. In response to this invitation, an open call was launched, providing an opportunity for Bulgarian born/based photographers. The theme was left open and the call was free to enter.
The five photographers’ works will be projected at the closing event of BPF taking place on the 27th of October 2018, Saturday at ACCA, University of Sussex, Falmer, BN1 9RA. Book a ticket here.
The five selected artists explore notions in relation to identity, history, politics and migration. Some have gazed back into Bulgaria’s recent past, while others have used the medium as a means to understand their own diasporic journeys. Working between fiction and facts, while questioning the truthfulness of the photographic image, these photographers give an insight of contemporary Bulgarian photography.
Tihomir Stoyanov was born during the rule of communism and witnessing with his own eyes has allowed him to reflect with a mesmerising approach. After visiting car boot sales and storing piles of films, he established the Imaginary Archive, which is the first Bulgarian archive of found photography including more than 10 000 negatives and slides. His series The Stoyanov Family, questions the role of found family photography in relation to the political time, in which these images were taken. Using extraordinary photographs from the everyday life of Bulgarian citizens, the line between propaganda, composure and vernacular is blurred.
The Zahra Kazemi series by Bayryam Bayrymali is a gentle, yet brutal exploration of one’s identity. The series were conducted in 2018 at Tate Modern, where more than 200 collaborators took part. Bayrymali asked visitors to step in and break the boundaries between past and present, seeing and unseeing, creating and destroying an image. The spectators became interrogators, as they transformed his self-portrait. Through this action, the artist referenced the Zahra Kazemi case. Kazemi was a photographer murdered by the Iranian officials because she took photographs in front of the Evin prison in Teheran. In the beginning of Bayrymali’s project, each participant received the same task and a pile of materials to violate Bayryam’s self-portrait, in a way that the photograph begins to act as the images of Kazemi.
The act of moving to the UK seven years ago has echoed in the photographic practice of the artist Zak R. Dimitrov. Since he spent most of his adult life in Britain, adapting to the English culture and society, he started to examine the feelings of a stranger and ‘the other’ when going back to his native land – Bulgaria. Through his series I Don’t Belong Here, Dimitrov poses questions of what is home and abroad, or here and there, aiming to understand his personal connection with his roots. After returning Dimitrov found that he was struggling to fit in or communicate with his own relatives, but the images he intuitively produced began to function as a reminder of his origin.
Daniela Takeva was born in Bulgaria, but grew up in the North of Germany. Going back to her birth town was the starting point of her project Yesterday when it was today and today when it’ll be Yesterday. The land where the photographer comes from was also a home of the Trace, a region where numerous heroes from the Homer’s epics were born and left this world. The house of Takeva’s grandparents works as a time traveller to the past, but also a reminder of the discarded present. This space sheltered three generations, shaped their lives and acted as a hideaway and a place of refuge for all of them. At first sight this decaying building is covered with oblivion, moss and mould but for the eyes of an insider it constitutes the meaning of ‘home’.
The Giant above The Cherries is a photobook by Petar Petrov, a visual exploration of the hometown of the photographer. Going back multiple times to Kyustendil, Petrov documented his surroundings through the eyes of both a stranger and insider. Spending his childhood and growing up in this town has developed Petrov’s identity, but since moving away to the UK, a distant feeling has taken over. These series function for the author as a metaphorical farewell, revisiting his childhood has not only filled him with nostalgia, but also the pictures themselves. These nostalgic and forgotten landscapes help him recognise his own youth and reconnect to bygone times.