4UZHBINA: talk on immigration, photography & Brexit
Part of Brighton Photo Fringe 2018 is an experimental exhibition – The Collectives’ Hub, showcasing the work of 8 collectives selected as part of an Open Call in the summer. Krasimira Butseva and Lina Ivanova are happy to have been selected as Revolv, and are grateful for the opportunity to show their first entirely collaborative project at Phoenix Brighton. The festival programme included also an artist talk delivered by Krasimira and Lina, on Saturday, 20th October. The talk aimed to provide an insight into their practices since graduating, mainly concentrating on their methods of working and their latest collaboration ‘4UZHBINA’. During the talk Krasimira and Lina explained about their use of found photography and alternative processes to explore notions of belonging, representation and loss of their roots in the process of migrating.
Krasimira has always been fascinated by found photography, but only started including this element in her practice out of frustration with work she had photographed herself. Constructivism and storytelling has played an important part of her work and is what developed her collage work in 2016. Since then, she has been expanding her personal archive of found photography, acquiring the majority of it at car boot sales. Her fascination with the images she finds enables her to reimagine her own experiences by appropriating them through destruction and construction.
Lina’s use of materials such as clay and found objects began in 2016, whilst she was undertaking an artist residency at Ashford School. Found photography made its way into her work organically through her discovery of archival material and through personal reflection on her own family’s archive. The access to darkroom and kiln facilities during the residency provided an opportunity for Lina to move away from her documentary practice and explore more experimental grounds, by treating clay surfaces and found objects with alternative processes in the dark room.
The audience of the talk at BPF received an explanation of the ambiguous title of the project, which was born from ‘a borrowed memory’ from one of Krasimira’s childhood friends. The friend recalls playing a game called ‘Countries’ and always selecting the country ‘4uzhbina’. This word is Bulgarian and literally translates as ‘a foreign land’. However it is referred to by society as the place where Bulgarian people migrate to. No matter what country a person migrates to, the common reference across society is always that ‘foreign land’. This explains the ludicrous misunderstanding of the young girl that ‘4uzhbina’ is an existing country.
The work on show at BFP was conceived during a period when Krasimira was in the UK and Lina in Bulgaria. The exchange of photography, archival material, writings and ideas between the two artists in separate countries has been detrimental to the project.
Having lived the second half of her life in the UK, Lina feels a tourist in her birth country. Away from the fractured identities that are constructed as a result of her attempt to fit in UK society, she is able to reflect on her becoming and representation through images she creates and finds during her stay in Bulgaria. Material is brought back to London and printed on found objects in the dark room. The prints created using liquid light are affected by daylight and undergo a continuous transformation, much like Lina’s own identity.
On the other hand, whilst in the UK, Krasimira works with found photography purchased by her father from carboot sales. Lately her father has become her personal collector and essentially decides what is included in her archive. Krasimira receives family photography of unknown people but recognises herself and other family members in them. She references memories from her past experiences and her way of appropriating these found images is through alteration of colours, through cropping and layering and editing to fit the context.
The quality of found photography, the questions raised by these images fascinate both artists, who deal with their chosen material in their distinctive way.
Images by Krasimira Butseva