Sofia / Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
I come from a place that feels like the exact midpoint between the Global North and the Global South even though a swift look through the papers confirms it is not. That country will be referred to as an EU NMS, a FSU country, a SG country and at some point we will all realise it is not a CME, neither a LME. Even though I would say I do not identify with it, I know that I would always end up bringing it in the conversation at 4 am. Sometimes I would nod when I say ‘no’. Sometimes I will be too blunt. Sometimes I will complain about not being able to barter everything in my life. Nevertheless, we will be friends and I will make jokes about all the aspects of life that we don’t like and we would like to change someday.
Before coming here, I used to live in a couple of cities in Bulgaria and I have done almost everything in my life that you have seen in the films (a M.I.A. song playing in the background). Although, professionally speaking I have done only one thing. Before graduating, I became part of the biggest platform for contemporary art and culture in the Bulgaria, which goes by name ONE. Metaphorically and literary speaking: that was the one! Just a small group of people also know that I wanted to work there ever since I saw one of the issues of the magazine they used to publish. I think I was 16 back then. Quite ignorant about everything around me, but nevertheless fascinated by fancy-looking artsy stuff.
When I became part of the collective almost everyone had already left it and they had stopped issuing that prominent magazine that led me there in the first place. I took the position of a marketing specialist (I have also been a business developer, a graphic designer, an international relations manager, a waiter, and a party organiser: all at the same time) and surprisingly enough my neat education in Cultural studies hasn’t prepared me for what was about to come. During the first year, meaning 3 festivals: all of which lasted between a week and a month, I had exactly no idea what was happening around me. As a comparison, during my third year there I started collaborating on different (and sometimes international) artsy (again) projects. It may sound like I initiated them myself, but it never works out that way even if some people say it does: for every project, I have to thank tons of people.
What is interesting is that we always think about the opposites and rarely about the things that are on the crossway. Usually we say they have the characteristics of the wings, but only to a certain extent. Just enough for us to be fine with them. But sometimes they don’t and sometimes one cannot explain them using the Socratic method.
There are places in the world that still look exactly like Chaplin’s Modern Times and it is really hard to be (feel) different out there. I have seen them. I have been part of the system and then moved to the independent arts sector, and here I am now.