Luchezar Boyadjiev

"On vacation"

On vacation is a funny series of photos but in the same time it undertakes in a serious way the problem of histories of particular countries, and their role in the process of political and cultural integrations of European countries and societies. Boyadjiev began discussion on European identities already in 1997 at the Documenta X, when he proposed the concept of overlapping identities. Images from “On vacation” represent equestrian monuments from various European countries with figures of the leaders removed and sent “On Vacation”. This is a symbolic unification by liberating the public space from it’s past and open up for the future.

On-going cycle of 15 digital prints, each one 53 x 73 or 73 x 53 cm

Luchezar’s work has been presented widely and internationally both in solo and group exhibitions. Luchezar is also active as curator and he has held numerous lectures and presentations. His work can for example be found at the CAMK (Contemporary Art Museum of Kumamoto, Kumamoto, Japan), The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, USA; National Art Gallery, Tirana, Albania. Luchezar has before worked on the theme of European identity for example in 2010 with Overlapping Identities.


/ My european story

The “locals” from the USA reacted immediately with “Oooh, how very European of you!!!”Did they take me for what I am or was I just their projection?

I was born in Bulgaria. My family name comes from the Arabic (via Turkish) word “boya” = paint. “Boyadji” in Turkish, as well as in Bulgarian means “a painter”.

My ancestral home (father’s side) is in the village of Mlechevo - the center of the Balkan Mountain range. (See map)

There were 8 young men from my village on the Titanic. (See photograph of their symbolic grave in the yard of the church in my ancestral village of Old /Staro/ Mlechevo, now Seltze, district of Lovetch, Bulgaria)

In the valley south from my village and across the Balkan Mountains, near Kazanluk there are dozens of ancient Thracian tombs dating from the 5th-3rd c. BC. (See here the Tomb of Kazanluk, 4th c. BC)

I spent the first three years of my life in Moscow – my father worked at the Bulgarian section of Radio Moscow during the time of Nikita Khrushchev. They took me there by train in December 1957 when I had been 40 days old. From that time I only remember the ghost-like figure of Grandma Tanaka, the wife of a Japanese Communist who perished in the Stalin’s camps - she is walking towards me under the single bare light bulb in the hallway of a communal apartment in Moscow that we often visited to see friends. She has a kimono on; her face is as ugly as a Sioux totem; but she is smiling and she loves me. I was afraid nonetheless.

I graduated the National Art Academy in Sofia in 1980. The most famous artist to study in this school is Christo. His actual family name is Javashev. In Turkish when you say “javash, javash…” it means – go slow, do not do anything today that you can do tomorrow. It means the same in Bulgarian.

My first artist’s residency was in the summer of 1992 – 2 months at the Kunsthaus in Horn, Lower Austria. In the region around that town one can visit and see, among other attractions:

A/ the village where they found the Paleolithic sculpture of the Venus of Willendorf;
B/ the castle of Dürnstein where they kept a prisoner King Richard I Lionheart for quite some time;
C/ the Abbey of Melk – you know – Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (1980), Adson of Melk, etc.;
D/ the wine producing region of Langenlois…;
E/ …and above all – my site-specific work from 1996 titled “Gazebo” on the hills above Gars-am-Kamp.

I have no idea if any of this makes me more or less European and frankly, I could not care less. But it illustrates what I defined in 1997 as “overlapping identities” – a notion to deal with the depths of European identity. For more: However, these “depths” are not so much vertical but rather horizontal now. I hope Europe will be able to redefine itself along ever more solidarity...

In fact, I have felt the most “European” back in January 1981 when I was for the first time in New York City and the USA. I was going to spend three more years there but that evening at a party somebody was introducing me to somebody else. I was totally lost in the new world; I was coming from the hard-core Soviet Block Communist country of Bulgaria; I was not an emigrant; I was completely “legit” and just out of art school…

Automatically, I extended my right hand for a handshake to greet the new acquaintance. The “locals” from the USA reacted immediately with “Oooh, how very European of you!!!” Did they take me for what I am or was I just their projection?