First week in Sofia

Hello friends,

This had been an intense and inspiring week of living in Sofia.

Every morning I’ve been walking and exploring the city, going deeper and further in different directions each day. Sofia is an incredible city with so much around every corner. You keep finding soviet monuments and roman ruins in the middle of parks, streets and even buildings. It’s a city that insists you explore it, and continues to reveal more and more each time you delve deeper.

I’m here for the World of Co Residency, which is a pretty fantastic little establishment that’s just turned 2 years old. It’s based in an apartment which is a 30 minute walk from the city centre, and less than 10 minutes walk to multiple parks, art galleries and much more. There are three of us attending the residency this month; Ni Wen, a video artist and writer from Sichuan, China, Carrie Fucile a sound artist from Baltimore, USA and myself. We all share a large studio space in the apartment and will be presenting an exhibition on the 28th of this month. Aside from our own various projects, we all take part in weekly lessons on Bulgarian language and Bulgarian art history.
We’re also being treated to various workshops, like a fantastic wood carving workshop which was run by Steliyan Steliyanov. During this I made the little piece you can see below. It’s been a while since I’ve made something outside of a computer. It’s made me want to do much more craft.

This week we’ll also have a cyanotype workshop and an artist talk with a local filmmaker. It’s shaping up to be an incredible month.

Having even spent much of this week walking, exploring, visiting art galleries and seeing local exhibitions, I’ve become a little overwhelmed. I’ve found forgotten interest in folklore, and art history. It’s such a difference being in a country with such dense history, and so much art.

We’ve visited several exhibitions, including one of beautiful Vivian Maier photographs, and a haunting Josef Koudelka exhibition, with photos taken during his exile from his home country of Czechoslovakia. But most interesting for me have been the 20th century works by Bulgarian artists, seen in the National Gallery. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like the works of Ivan Milev, Hristo Simeonov, and so many more. The National gallery may have nearly broken my brain.

This week’s test_signal is about this. The huge amount of art, culture and history that surrounds this city and almost every step you take in it. I suppose this is true of most of Europe, or even most places around the world. Maybe it just takes a step outside your own country to see it.

Oh, and another important event for me this week was seeing the Bulgarian female choir Vanya Moneva. I’ve had a fascination with Bulgarian folk music for a while, since discovering the album ‘The mystery of the Bulgarian Voices.’ I would highly recommend listening to it and any recordings of Vanya Moneva. It was incredible to hear those beautiful voices, haunting harmonies and strange rhythms live, as well as see the impact they have on the locals who went to the concert.

Anyways, that’s me for the week. Thanks for reading.

All the best,

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