“INFRASTRUCTURE IN BULGARIAN MOUNTAIN VILLAGES”

Pro Rodopi Foundation, Bostina (Bulgaria) – contact Petar Todorov at prac@prac.biz

In the small village of Bostina (120 inhabitants) where Pro Rodoi Art Centre is located since 2004, the street infrastructure is in an inacceptable state. This reflects the situation of many mountain villages, which are not a priority of public investments. There is currently no chance to receive financial support  from either the municipality or state to improve the streets condition in the village in the near future.

The A-team’s task will be to support the local community in finding creative solutions to dealing with this problem through initiating artistic actions and participation.

Specific objectives are:

  • to strengthen the relationship between the Pro Rodopi Foundation and the village inhabitants
  • to foster the village inhabitants understanding of the value of art
  • to involve at least 30 village inhabitants in the project
  • to organise a final festive event which will involve media coverage
  • to faciliate a dialogue with the mayor of Smolyan (administrative centre) on the issue

3 responses »

  1. ‘Landing figures’ at PRAC

    The Bulgarian part of A-team project was held at Pro Rodopi Art Centre in Bostina between 15 July and 5 August 2012.

    The young design artist from UK Isaac Wilcox did hold a residency at PRAC in the frames of A-Team project, working on the topic of bad road infrastructure in the village of Bostina. He worked in close collaboration with young Bulgarian designer Gabriela Tzonkova and the young Bulgarian filmmaker Atanas Georgiev on a 30–meters long road installation named ‘Landing figures’. Two managers from PRAC – Desislava Mincheva and Petar Todorov, the local mediator Ivan Marinski, and plenty of volunteers from the village was involved in the project as well.

    The project got a huge success among villagers and did attract lots of national and local media, including Bulgarian national TV, channel 1 which did a proper TV coverage in one of the most popular cultural TV shows in Bulgaria (link here, http://bnt.bg/bg/productions/121/edition/24737/ pls see inbetween 00:16:05 и 00:19:40 minutes)

    As first immediate result of A-team in Bulgaria was the decision of Municipality of Smolyan to repair one very problematic part of the landscape of the village of Bostina, hugely affected by big floods in the region in 2006.

    As ‘Landing figures’ appeared to be a project with very strong and easyly erccognizable practical aspect for all stake holders – villagers, artists, politicians – PRAC would like to continue with it and find a way to creat more ‘flying animals’ on the broken streets of Bostina.

    Petar Todorov

  2. A-TEAM at Pro Rodopi Art Centre in Bostina/Bulgaria.

    This project was a very good experience for me.

    At first the attitude of some of the villagers was quite negative towards the project. The idea of an artwork on the road was seen as ridiculous.

    However as the process went on the attitude changed. People were excited and interested to see the process and to see how a crazy idea can come to real and change their every day lives.

    As a non-Bulgarian and not a fluent speaker of Bulgarian, I wondered how I would cope and manage with a completely different culture than my own.
    It was easy to blend in and get on with people and to continue with the work.

    The team of workers (Ivan Marinski – the mediator, Angel Yanev – the mayor of the village and all others) were so embracing and kind to the awkward, gangly Scot. Working with the young artists Gabriella Tsonkova (designer) and Atanas Georgiev (filmmaker) was a joy. I have a lot of respect towards them. They were crucial to fully communicate our ideas to the workforce.

    Pro Rodopi managers Petar and Desislava were so supportive and a strong base to work from. We were treated very well and given a lot of creative freedom.

    I really feel that I have learned a lot from their style of working and picked up skills, both practical and mental, that I can really take elsewhere to use and reinforce.

    Isaac Wilcox
    Designer
    Glasgow
    08/2012

  3. Landing Figures In Bostina/Bulgaria

    The whole process started when I was invited to combine my design skills with another partner(also a designer, a person with an artistic vision) to change the bulgarian infrastructure through Art. Our job was to create a visual comunication with which to change not only the environment of the village but the people. The people are those who can change the environment. The installation was 30 meters long, and our main material of usage was beton plus pigments. The canvas on which we were working on (metaphorically way said) was indeed a street. This street is a clear example of how the roads look like, in our situation- Bostina. A village looking like forgot and lost, covered from all sides with huge endless hills and picks.
    The street did not have any kind of pavemnent, but only holes carved into the striated land. The first job we did was to gather out thoughts and start visualising somekind of ideas. While meeting new people, some of them mentioned a small chapel near the village. That was our fisrts destination. It was fun just observing ourselves, sitting on the top of a wooden table, holding a piece of chock and of cource observing the cpace. (hah) Something that a design would do, just observing while all of his/her thoughts are jumping all over chaoticly into his/her system. The night we were done with the paintings, we had a talk with outr project coordinator – Petio and his wife, another artistic person. After the discussion the primary desicion was taken to do something crazy enaugh to catch the attention of everyone and put them into a certain situation- not only observe but think about their own perception. The idea of some kind of an animal which represents this specific region- Southern Bulgaria. On the top of that the animal must be in untraditional way- just the thing we needed splashed cow and flying cubic chicken(still not certain if it is a hen or a cock). While our initial interpretation of the animals was developing, the workers on the other hand ( for me more likely described as craftsmen) were leveling the surface of the street, preparing it for the upcоmming event. Over the next days our two splashed animals ware fixed as a final goal and ready to be used. And here comes the fun part, measuring and covering ourselves with blue, green, red and yellow concrete from the top of our heads to the bottom of the feet (a famous bulgarian saying). Before the shuttering the two figures needed to be measured accurately. Accidentally we found a couple of battens and they did the perfect job to help visualise the cow. For the measuring of the chicken we used not only those battens but buckets and many of the surrounding objects from our daily life.The whole street was measured and separated in five pieces so when the cubic metres of concrete come will be easier and clear to work with. The workers placed the metal grid and we were ready to start the shuttering. Piece by piece the cow had the outline for the fisrt layer of beton. Here is the moment when I should say that even if you dont know how to calculate or use a trigonometry is never too late to start practising it-absolutely inevitable and fantastic(that’s how I fell after the calculation have been done- fantastic, hah). The calculation combines the quantity of grey beton(the beton surrounding the figures ) and the colour beton(foreach colour how much pigment should go). It took us long time untill we found the write pigment and write way to use it.
    Even though Isaac didnt know Bulgarian he was communicating with the workers, which means that the enthusiasm was sideway. At first people were sceptic about the whole process and then they got involved. But even if they still understand it and they just can not find a way to like it, well dey don’t have to because subconsciously they have alredy did it, they have an opinion.
    We (designers and workers) agreed that first gonna put the beton beside the figures and then the one inside of it, in that way we can use the already dry concrete as a grid for the inside figures. The Thickness of the concrete is ten cm..
    The whole village took part in the hard work mixing and hauling the concrete. The help of everyone was ina great favour for us. Per day with combined efforts a cubic meter of concrete, even more was used. The communication on a great level, even people just met were behaving like best friends and helping eachother. Petio was one of the main characters, working side by side with us- working and laughing ( the one verb does not exist without the other one, otherwise is pointless, it would be a tragedy). With the start of the chicken(hen or cock) we had a bit difficulties with the measurements, some of the forms were going a bit out of the road, so we had to remeasure and emphasise on the most important part of it- the yellow bum. At this moment we already knew that is better to mix the powder pigment streight into the dry betton with glue- C200 and subsequently add H2O.
    The opening took part exactly on this street. At first the 30 metres were coverd with a plastic veil. On the one hand, all the children were on position spread on the bothh sides of the cover waiting for the signal. On the other hand, there was a small table waiting for the people to try the food- and YES indeed eggs and milk! After the signal GO, all the children and us the designers uncovered the whole mistery- The Falling Figures.
    I believe, that the memories I made are invaluable and they will last untill I loose my mind completely.
    Thanks all for that great chance to part of something so exciting!
    Gabriela Tzonkova
    Designer/Participant at A-TEAM project at Pro Rodopi Art Centre
    July/August 2012

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