Book presentation and photo exhibition
The northwestern region in Bulgaria is the poorest region in the European Union and is going through several crises simultaneously – the withdrawal of women (who are working abroad as caretaker for elderly people), the loneliness of the men that left behind, the abandonment of children, and the overall crisis of villages and small towns which have ceased to be seen as places of personal future. It is this quiet layering of trauma upon trauma that drew the attention of Diana Ivanova and photographer Babak Salari to their subject. Their interest was rooted in events they had experienced in their own lives. After many conversations, Babak Salari and Diana Ivanova wanted to find out what, in this situation, was happening to the eldest people, as they are nowadays the most numerous age group in the region. They are also the “last guardians” – a generation which has lived through at least two collective breakdowns: that of the traditional village following the communist land collectivisation in the 1950s and the breakdown of communism itself in 1989. In the summer of 2008, they both travelled to nine Northwestern villages (Gorna and Dolna Bela Rechka, Gorno and Dolno Ozirovo, Lyutadjik, Milanovo, Druzhevo, Zanozhene and Chelyustitsa) to take photographs and talk to the people. This is how more than 50 portraits and 2000 photographs have been produced for the documentary project “Trauma and Miracles”.
Diana Ivanova is Journalist and manager of New Culture Foundation in Sofia; IWM Milena Jesenská Fellow in 2005
Babak Salari is Photographer and lecturer in photography in Montreal.