Contemporary Bulgarian Photography at VIVACOM Art Hall


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print


Musiz Foundation’s Contemporary Bulgarian Photography exhibition staged in collaboration with VIVACOM, Sofia Municipality and Archives State Agency kicked of on 20 March at the art gallery on the second floor of VIVACOM Art Hall. Making my way through the crowd of visitors, I almost ran into a photographer of the older generation, whom I happened to know and who greeted me with the words: ‘Very disappointing!’ A bit later, I had the chance to grasp how right this recapitulation of the show was. The exhibition sought to present to the general public the best works by forty Bulgarian photographers made since the 1990s until now. Stepping into the gallery, visitors found themselves in a sort of a chaotic jigsaw of representations in almost all possible lines: temporal, genre, technical, expositional and even generational. But then again, it is impossible for a general exhibition to be narrowly focused and uncluttered, but this one, I am afraid, has defied some of the fundamentals of photography. The organisers have failed to share the process of selection or the name of the curators, but the first thing that stuck out a mile was the hash of commercial photography and authorial projects and reportage photography. Mixing various techniques (35mm, medium format, digital) by photographers is unavoidable nowadays though. Still classical black and white studio portrait photography, for instance, represented in different sizes and types of printing methods, felt somehow inadequate, when displayed next to colour reports, most of which, of course, digital. Practically, all the photographs have been digitised and part of them apparently edited. The variety of styles as well as the different number of works taken by the same photographers was also conducive to the chaotic reception. The very principle of the selection of authors remained unclear. Most of the popular figures in commercial photography were presented (Encho Naidenov, Temelko Temelkov, Vasil Kurkelanov) along with photographers enjoying international recognition in the recent years (Stoian Nenov, Martin Chichov, Nadezhda Pavlova), directors of photography (Emil Christov), Misirkov/Borisov duo more popular for their creative quests both in documentary film and photography, as well as young authors. With such a wide range of authors and generations working in completely different genres and techniques, a chaotic hash is unavoidable. Commercial photographers presented projects intended for various publications, fashion more often than not or famous and notorious persons that have become the order of the day; photo reporters displayed pictures covering social conflicts, while authorial projects followed more personal lines. The objects of the photos did not facilitate any possible unifying pattern either: mostly popular figures, actors and politicians (Nahum Shopov, Kamen Donev, Elen Koleva, Simeon Saxe Coburg Gotha, Sergei  Stanishev) next to the Monument to the Soviet Army defaced by graffiti along with street rallies and Boian Petrov climbing the highest peaks. Such a collaged collection of photographs of different periods could have been interesting in itself if the pictures themselves were intriguing. Certain photographs do, of course, boast unquestionable qualities, but as a whole, I believe that all those who are in the know about the development of contemporary photography, and particularly of Bulgarian, have enjoyed much more impressive photos in one-man exhibitions or publications and by many of the presented here authors too. As to others, who have failed to be selected for one reason or another, the question remains about a better possible show. A commendable aspect of the exhibition was its scale and quality: some of the copies reached three metres or so in size, which corresponded well with the gallery’s area and unfortunately, was a rare occurrence in this country for purely financial or special reasons. I want to express my admiration for the organisers over their initiative to build a digital archive, which was announced within the show, being of paramount importance to the preservation of contemporary photography. The exhibition ran until 3 April. For more information please visitсъвременна-българска-фотография/ and

IMG_0183 IMG_0182 IMG_0181 IMG_0180 IMG_0179

Contemporary Bulgarian Photography at VIVACOM Art Hall

Close Menu