THE TREE AND OTHER STORIES

by Professor Tsocho Boyadzhiev; translated by Traci Speed

Photography of Aleksandar Ivanov

 the tree aleksandar ivanov 3.jpg

Unlike the other visual languages, photography retains the "effect of reality." The photographic image verifies that what has been photographed is "really like that." At the same time, it arises "technically," through the effect of light on light-sensitive material. What, then, is the role of the photographer, where is the creativity in the creation of the photographic image, and to what extent is photography’s claim of being an art justified?

When we talk about the work of one of the most important contemporary Bulgarian photographers, we must mention first of all his keen insight into the hidden meanings of nature, which he loved so much. These were shown in a remarkable way in one of his previous projects, "Bulgaria from a Bird’s Eye View," in which ostensibly familiar places were subjected to an amazing "Platonic" geometry that we may perhaps suspect, but which remains inaccessible to us, because we do not have the eye of a bird.

The series "One Life" is all the more amazing because our blindness does not have that aforementioned justification. We carelessly pass by the old rotten tree, misshapen, worthless as a shelter, useless as material. But look how the photographer stops at it – and for a long time. Because upon careful and intelligent examination, it turns out that it is much more than a rotten tree – it is a bird, and a snake, and a spectral being; it is a strange but bright beacon; it is a living being, changing with the seasons; it is a storyteller, or a hand caressing us. The tree has graciously revealed its many faces to the photographer, and the photographer has patiently read its visual language, benevolently met and decoded its messages, resorting to the variability of the technical intermediary to reveal the deeper layers of meaning of the object. There is also grace in the photographer’s gesture. He not only overcomes the fleeting transitoriness of life, but also wisely teaches us that everything in this world is greater, is more significant and more worthy than what our superficial gaze captures. This "more" is reality, not a fiction, and the ability to see and to recreate this reality in an exciting way is a trademark in Aleksandar Ivanov’s photographic work.

This togetherness of man and nature, of the photographer and his "model," is witnessed in the series of black and white photographs called "Up Close" by Iliyan Michev, which documents the path of the creation of Aleksandar Ivanov’s series, while fully exploiting the potential of photography and having its own independent artistic value. In this way the viewer gets not two parallel exhibitions, but one double-faced show, which is novel in this country’s cultural life.

  • COMMENTING RULES

    Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

    Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

IS RACISM IN BULGARIA ON THE RISE?
"We are fascists, we burn Arabs": the youngsters start chanting as soon as they emerge from the metro station and leave the perimeter of its security cameras.

HOW WOODROW WILSON AND CHARLES DARWIN CAME TO SOFIA
The names of foreigners, mainly Russians, are common across the map of Sofia – from Alexandr Dondukov and Count Ignatieff to Alexey Tolstoy (a Communist-era Soviet writer not to be confused with Leo Tolstoy) who has a whole housing estate named after him.

EMBRACE THE PAST
Picturesque old houses lining a narrow river and tiny shops selling hand-made sweets, knives and fabrics: The Etara open air museum recreates a charming, idealised version of mid-19th century Bulgaria.

JESUS CHRIST ASTRONAUT
Christ was an alien. Or if He was not, then four centuries ago there were UFOs hovering over what is now southwestern Bulgaria.

OF SHPAGINS, TANKS AND ALYOSHAS
Unlike other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, which removed, stashed away or demolished most remnants of their Communist past as early as the 1990s, Bulgaria is a curiosity.

VARVARA'S IRON TREE
Agroup of friends meet each summer at the seaside, a small community who know one another so well that boredom becomes inevitable, and so do internal conflicts. And death.

TAILLESS CATS AND MADMEN MAKING POLITICAL DEMANDS
Descendants of millennia-old rites, the scary kukeri, or mummers, are the best known face of Bulgarian carnival tradition. Gabrovo's carnival is its modern face: fun, critical, and colourful.

LET'S PICK SOME ROSES
Both high-end perfumes and more run-of-the-mill cosmetics would be impossible without a humble plant that thrives in a couple of pockets around the world, the oil-bearing rose. Bulgaria is one of these places.

FROM BLACK ROCK DESERT, NV, TO NOVO SELO, BG
Organisers of the notorious Burning Man festival seem to have heeded the lessons of 2023 when festival-goers, paying uprwards of $500 for a ticket, had to wade, owing to torrential rains and flashfloods, through tons of mud in the northern Nevada desert.

AMAZING PLANTS & ANIMALS OF BULGARIA
In Bulgaria, nature has created a number of little wonders. They might not be spectacular or grandiose, but they constitute a vital part of the local wildlife, create a feeling of uniqueness and are sometimes the sole survivors of bygone geological epochs.

THE MANY FACES OF PALIKARI ROCKS
Next time you visit Sozopol, pay more attention not to the quaint houses in the Old Town, the beaches around or the quality of food and service in the restaurants. Instead, take a stroll by the sea and take in... the rocks. 

MOSQUE OF LEGENDS
Bulgaria's Ottoman heritage is the most neglected part of the rich past of this nation. This is a result of the trauma of five centuries spent under Ottoman domination additionally fanned up under Communism and up until this day.