Following her solo exhibition at Four Corners Gallery in London, MA Photography graduate Vera Hadzhiyska from the University of Portsmouth had her work curated for the arts and culture festival NIGHT which took place in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
With the Name of a Flower is an art project informed by the study of migration, cultural and national identity, history and collective memory. The project investigates the forced name changes of the Muslim population in Bulgaria (from Arabic/Turkish names to Slavic/Bulgarian ones) in the period from 1912 until the fall of Communism in 1989. Vera is interested in the consequences of this on ordinary people’s lives; their memories, identity and the impact on subsequent generations.
Vera was pleased with the reception of her London exhibition in Bulgaria. Visitors were intrigued to find out more about the history of Bulgarian names, visibly moved by the artworks, leading them to share their own family stories.
When the project was shown for the second time in Stambolyan House in the Old Town of Plovdiv, it became a touring exhibition to a wider public audience, allowing Vera to share awareness of this little known part of Bulgarian history, shedding light on state-imposed repression of identity on generations of Bulgarian Muslims. During the 3-night show opening at the festival, more than 1000 people visited With the Name of a Flower.
“Exhibiting in Bulgaria showed me that people are willing to talk about these issues, although they are still a difficult and painful subject for many. I feel it is important to keep these less-known stories alive in our collective memory. Through awareness of the past, I hope to make sense of contemporary ideas about religious, cultural and national identity.”
At the moment, Vera Hadzhiyska is part of a group show in Wales titled HOME organised by Shutter Hub and Gallery At Home, in support of homeless charities across the UK. The exhibition showcases 200 photographs by 80 artists which are available to purchase until the 5th of December, with all the funds going directly to Crisis, Shelter Cymru and Toiletries Amnesty.
Photos by Vera Hadzhiyska and Lina Krivoshieva