BULGARIA ART

BUY ART, GIVE FUTURE TO A CHILD

The charity exhibition Buy Art, Give Future To a Child is a chance to buy top photography from some of Bulgaria's finest authors and to help disadvantaged children to realise their talents and potential. The proceeds from the exhibition at the Sofia Press Art Gallery will go to the Plyusheno Meche, or Teddy Bear, association which organises Bulgaria's Hidden Talents mentorship programme. It helps talented young people without parents or at risk to enlist in university or get a job.

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IF THE NEW YORKER WERE A SOFIANER...

The New Yorker is an institution; a magazine bought and read by generations for its captivating and meticulously researched, fact-checked and proofread texts, the dry witticism of its cartoons and the illustrated covers that offer a visual commentary on both local and global issues.

Aleksandrina Ivanova

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AN AMERICAN IN BG

We had visited Bulgaria briefly and loved the rich history of the country, the traditional culture still honored and close to the surface, the welcoming people we met, the Balkan cuisine and the wines of the countryside. It was clear to us that Sofia is a delightfully liveable city. We came for a year in Bulgaria – we’re now midway in our fourth year. 

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COMMUNIST BULGARIA GOES TO HUNGARY

Through vivid and at times poignant images Communist Bulgaria shows what has remained of this country's Communist material heritage. Included are some would famous sites such as the Communist Party Memorial House on Mount Buzludzha, popularly referred to as The Flying Saucer of Communism, downtown Sofia with its Stalinist architecture, and many monuments of Second World War resistance fighters. Thirty years after the collapse of the Iron Curtain most have been abandoned and are in various stages of decay, exuding eerie, even otherworldly vibes.

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MUMMERS & MORE

Yambol, in southeastern Bulgaria, has been a hub for various folk traditions for many centuries. Nowadays, alongside Pernik in western Bulgaria, it is thought of as one of Bulgaria's capitals of Kukeri, or mummers. An annual folk festival takes place in downtown Yambol, usually at the end of February or beginning of March, with mummers not only from the surrounding villages but also from all parts of Bulgaria that retain the tradition arriving by busloads to participate in a three-day folk extravaganza of loud music and even louder clanking of mummers' bells.

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FRONTIERS BRINGS THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST TO BULGARIA

The exhibition was organised with the support of the American Embassy in Sofia. Ambassador Eric Rubin opened the event, together with Amelia Gesheva, the deputy minister of culture. The guests included Bulgarian and American expats, representatives of the diplomatic community, artists and photographers, entrepreneurs, journalists, members of the NGO sector and others.

Frontiers: Photography from the American Southwest will travel around Bulgaria. Its next stop is in Varna, with opening at Varna City Art Gallery on 5 April.

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FRONTIERS: THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST

"There are many such places," he continues. "Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary… For myself I'll take Moab, Utah. I don't mean the town itself, of course, but the country which surrounds it – the canyonlands. The slickrock desert. The red dust and the burnt cliffs and the lonely sky – all that which lies beyond the end of the roads."

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JEWISH BULGARIA EXHIBITION IN SOFIA

The exhibition covers some of the mesmerising and atmospheric remains of Jewish heritage in Bulgaria: from the mosaics of a 2nd century synagogue in Plovdiv, to abandoned and crumbling synagogues and cemeteries, the only reminders of the Jewish presence in a number of cities where the community left, in 1949-1951.

Before Sofia, the Jewish Bulgaria exhibition by Anthony Georgieff was on in Prague and in London. The exhibition was organised with the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and the Embassy of Israel in Bulgaria.

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MUMMERS, CATS AND CANARIES

For over 10 years Yambol, the city in southeastern Bulgaria, has been the host of a major street festival attended by dozens of groups of mummers from all over Bulgaria. Usually, it is held at the end of February or the beginning of March, and from its beginning it has included an international photography exhibition of mummers and carnivals called Kukerlandia. In 2018, the Vagabond Magazine Special Prize went to Ekaterina Staromanova from Sofia.

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TIHOMIR STOYANOV

Photography has of course changed beyond recognition since the digital revolution. Everyone with a smart phone now considers him or herself to be a photographer, and there is already a generation of young people who not only have no idea what a "darkroom" as opposed to Adobe Lightroom means, but who take Instagram to be the ultimate tool for disseminating visual statements ranging from the political to the selfies taken in front of some sunny beach or secluded waterfall.

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YOU'LL TAKE THE HIGH ROAD

The open road is unpredictable, it could take you anywhere and a return ticket is not guaranteed. Georgieff’s road takes us into a realm both familiar and unsettling, of classic Scotland and of another hidden, interior Scotland that takes you by surprise.

This is a realm of broom and mist, ruined castles and time-nibbled remains of crofts, burns and lochs, and oceanic waters that fill and empty and refill the land ceaselessly. And everywhere – the ever-shifting sky of steel-grey. It is a sky you don’t see on the European continent.

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JEWISH BULGARIA EXHIBITION GOES TO LONDON

Bulgaria, one of Europe's least known lands, famously did not deport about 48,000 Jews during the Second World War. In 1943, before it had emerged that Nazi Germany would be losing the war, the Kingdom of Bulgaria, a German satellite, failed to do what was expected of it – despite all the plans, the array of barges and the waiting cattle cars. Who is to take the credit for the unprecedented rescue: the Communist Party, the Orthodox Church, the king, a bunch of forthright MPs who openly opposed the planned deportations, or the power of Bulgaria's civil society?

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OUT OF PLACE

In Vagabond we usually don't cover theatre owing to the language barrier. For Out of Place, a one-man show by Guerassim Dichliev, however, we made an exception as this Bulgarian artist working in Paris is a mime – and does not use language.

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NICOLE SIMMONS, ON TRAVELLING IN BULGARIA, NOT VISITING THE SAME PLACE TWICE AND COLLECTING ART

Nicole is also an epidemiologist and international health expert with 20 years of experience managing and developing technical assistance, training and research projects. She is currently a part-time faculty member in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with a current project evaluating an early childhood development programme in Swaziland.

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THE ART OF ART MANAGING

Art, culture and proper management of creative industries have proven a force for efficient and positive change for local communities. Just think of the excitement when your visit to another town or country coincides with an interesting festival, concert or art show. Remember all the beautiful pictures you have taken and shared of inspiring exhibitions, thought-provoking graffiti art or innovative visual solutions of urban and rural spaces. Look at the coffee mug rack and the shelves at your home, with their beautiful souvenirs that are more than mementos, but true objects of art.

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THE BULGARIANS*

Later on, unless you go on to become a member of a nationalist party, you don't feel any particular need to remind yourself of "I am a Bulgarian." Such a statement, despite its straightforwardness, could invoke a measure of uncertainty, like the invisible steps on the front cover of this book. It is not because you could be something else than a Bulgarian, but because the affirmation presupposes a previous agreement between yourself and your compatriots about what it is that makes you Bulgarian and what makes Bulgarians a community.

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PORTRAIT OF A SEA

We all know how boring the Black Sea is. It lacks the saltiness of the Aegean, the rugged coastline of the Adriatic, and the rich marine life of the Red Sea. Its waters are dead, its fauna has been lost to pollution and overfishing. In short, the Black Sea is dull.

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THE UNBULGARIANS TRAVEL AROUND BULGARIA, END IN SOFIA

It was organised by the Free Speech International Foundation and the Multi Kulti Collective, supported by the Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein NGO Programme under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area.

The UnBulgarians show the "Bulgarian life" of people from New Zealand to the United States, from Russia to India, and from Peru to Japan, but also of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Sub-Saharan Africa, asking thought-provoking questions about multiculturalism, tolerance and national identity.

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