On the 25th anniversary of democracy in Bulgaria, the American artist, Brian Dailey, embarked on a photographic journey of the country documenting its political electorate.
Contemporary Art Foundation Presents:
Bulgaria in Democracy
Supported by America for Bulgaria Foundation; Embassy of the United States in Bulgaria; Stephan Stoyanov Gallery, New York; Monev Gallery, Sofia; City Art Gallery, Plovdiv
On the 25th anniversary of democracy in Bulgaria, the American artist, Brian Dailey, embarked on a photographic journey of the country documenting its political electorate. Building on a similar series he conducted in the United States from 2010 to 2012 and entitled America in Color, he set out to document the broad diversity and character of the Bulgarian voter as it completed its latest national election in the fall of 2014. The project took him and his team across Bulgaria from its mountains, to its plains and to the shores of this culturally rich nation.
Captured in this series are the full-length portraits of the Bulgarian electorate who used the ballot box as a means to express their hopes and desire for the future direction of their country. These are the portraits of the everyday citizen and worker expressing themselves in a portrait that not only declares how they voted in the most recent election, but also expressing something about their own character and identity in the process. Captured through his lens are hunters, waiters, artists, shop owners, factory workers, and more as they express themselves and their identity from a pose that ranges from reflective to the humorous.
Over the course of this project, Dailey took more than 450 portraits capturing the breadth and depth of a culture whose origins dates back to 5,000 BC. From the Bulgar to the Turk to the Roma and beyond, he has captured the ethnic character of the nation. His camera was not limited, however, to any particular age group but instead highlights the generational differences of the new to senior voter, as well as the rural and urban individual who makeup the constituents of this country. Of the more than 450 portraits 128 were selected for this exhibition with the goal of maintaining the diversity and character of democratic
Unlike the United States, Bulgaria is a politically diverse country with many political parties. In the October 2014 election alone more than 25 parties competed resulting in eight elected to the Parliament. To document this political diversity, Dailey asked the subject of the portrait to declare their political party affiliation by holding a placard, which included the ballot number of their party and color affiliation used on the ballot during this election. While limited to the political parties that won a seat in the parliament, the series nonetheless, offers a colorful and compelling look at the Bulgarian voter and political system at this time in history. While nearly 50 percent of Bulgarian voters decided not to vote, Dailey includes them in the series by having them hold up a black placard to express their decision to abstain.
As democratic Bulgaria looks to the future, the portrait series, which is titled Bulgaria in Democracy, has documented the anniversary of the first 25 years with a compelling look at a country at a crossroads but that now decides its future through the ballot box and the individual right to vote. As one Bulgarian proverb so aptly and succinctly put it: Капка по капка – вир става.
July 7 – August 7, 2015; City Art Gallery – Plovdiv
Opening: July 7, 2015; 6 – 8 PM
Official opening reception: July 7, 2015; 7 PM