the neighbours


bulgarian pavilion at the 60th venice art biennale





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@ Sala Tiziano at the Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli Fondamenta Delle Zattere Ai Gesuiti 919, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy

upcoming events




Guided tour of The Neighbours
with Krasimira Butseva & Julian Chehirian

8th of June 2024 - 17:00 - 18:00 @Bulgarian Pavilion, Venice, Italy

On the 8th of June from 5-6 pm at the Bulgarian Pavilion, artists Krasimira Butseva and Julian Chehirian will lead a guided tour of the exhibition. This event is an opportunity to learn more about the processes behind the installation—how it was created conceptually, artistically, and scholarly.



The Neighbors: silenced histories of Bulgaria’s state-led violence (spatial audio tour and artist talk) with Julian Chehirian & Krasimira Butseva

3rd of July 2024 - 18:30 - 20:30 @Cell Project Space, London, UK

Join us on Wednesday, 3 July, 6.30pm for a talk with artists and researchers Krasimira Butseva and Julian Chehirian, who will expand on the key concerns behind their project The Neighbours (with artist Lilia Topouzova, curator Vasil Vladimirov), currently representing Bulgaria at the 60th Venice Biennale. The talk continues Cell Project Space’s public programmes’ engagement with the under-acknowledged aspects of ‘Eastern’ Europe’s political history through an artistic lens. It follows Agnė Jokšė and Anastasia Sosunova’s two-person exhibition, Queer 'Eastern' European Anti-Colonial Solidarity Fundraiser, as well as CEED Feminisms research group and public programme.

During the event the artists will present a spatial audio tour of The Neighbours, sharing sounds and fragments from the installation. The sound performance will be followed by an artist talk, discussing the concepts and processes involved when working with political violence, traumatic memory, silenced histories, memorial sites and collective healing. The Neighboursis a multidisciplinary installation, employing found objects, video, and sound design, to convey the stories of those who endured Bulgarian Gulag camps and prisons (1945 to 1989). The installation is currently exhibited in the Bulgarian Pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale (open until 24th of November 2024). 

Learn more about the event: https://www.cellprojects.org/exhibitions/future

Book your ticket for the event: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-neighbours-silenced-histories-of-bulgarias-state-led-violence-tickets-919537390087?aff=oddtdtcreator



The Neighbours: Erased Histories, Traumatic Memory and Collective Care (artist talk) with Julian Chehirian, Lilia Topouzova, Vasil Vladimirov & Krasimira Butseva

6th of July 2024, 19:30  - 20:30 -  @ diffrakt | zentrum für theoretische peripherie e.V. Crellestraße 22 10827 Berlin, Germany


The Neighbours is a multimedia installation about how we remember, carry and forget trauma, presented at this year’s Bulgarian Pavilion at the 60th Venice Art Biennale. The exhibition excavates the silenced memories of survivors of state violence from Bulgaria’s socialist era (1945-1989) and explores the latter’s troubling legacy in the present. During this period, countless individuals were sent to forced labour camps without trial, faced imprisonment, systematic persecution, forced resettlement and ethnic assimilation – political dissidents, peasants who refused to give up their land, artists, queer people, Muslim minorities and everyday people who defied the regime’s ideology. Through the interplay of video projections, ambient sounds, and artefacts recovered from the former sites of violence, the installation visually juxtaposes the camps’ material world with the space of the home, evoking how traumatic memories permeate daily life while inviting the audience to bear witness.

Created by a team of artist-researchers working between the archive, the ethnographic encounter and the studio, The Neighbours unsettles the distinction between scholars and artists. It portrays the role of art in tying together knowledge production with the ability to capture affect – something that often cannot be directly documented or made present.

The curator Vasil Vladimirov will be in conversation with the artists and scholars Krasimira Butseva, Julian Chehirian and Lilia Topouzova. The team behind this year’s Bulgarian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will speak about their methodology of working with silent narratives, trauma, art and history for the past ten years. They will discuss working with purged archives of the Bulgarian secret police, the fragmented recollections of the survivors of political violence, alongside their studio practice, experiments with sound, moving image and installation art, and the concepts behind The Neighbours.

Learn more about the event here: http://diffrakt.space/en/the-neighbours-erased-histories-traumatic-memory-and-collective-care/



Artist talk with Julian Chehirian, Lilia Topouzova, Vasil Vladimirov & Krasimira Butseva

8th of July 2024 - @Swimming Pool, Sofia, Bulgaria



Guided tour of The Neighbours with Lilia Topouzova

20th of July 2024 - 15:00 - 16:00 @Bulgarian Pavilion, Venice, Italy

On the 20th of July from 3-4 pm at the Bulgarian Pavilion,  Lilia Topouzova will lead a guided tour of the exhibition. This event is an opportunity to learn more about the processes behind the installation—how it was created conceptually, artistically, and scholarly.



Artist talk & lunch with 
Julian Chehirian & Krasimira Butseva

12th of August 2024 - @Residency Unlimited, New York, USA



past events





Silent histories, found objects & collective practices - Vasil Vladimirov in conversation with Krasimira Butseva & Julian Chehirian
1st of June 2024  @BUNA festival, ReBonkers, Varna, Bulgaria

In this conversation, the curator of the Bulgarian pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale, Vasil Vladimirov, together with visual artists Krasimira Butseva and Julian Chehirian, will talk about the process and concept behind the installation "Neighbors". They will discuss how they work with "silent stories"—narratives that exist beyond institutional and state archives—as well as how to create an installation that deals with history and memory, and how care for the past has led to their collective practice. The event is part of the program of BUNA | forum for contemporary art.




Remembering & Bearing witness in local / international context panel discussion with Valentin Kalinov, Daniela Koleva, Mihail Marinov, Momchil Metodiev, Elza Dzhermanova & Venelin Shurelov, Krasimira Butseva, Lilia Topouzova, Julian Chehirian & Vasil Vladimirov
24th of May 2024 - 11:30 - 13:30 @Bulgarian Pavilon, Venice, Italy

On May 24 at 11:30 am, join us for a discussion titled “Remembering & Bearing Witness in Local and International Contexts.” Our session brings together a diverse panel of artists, scholars, an NGO practitioner and the daughter of a survivor of political violence. Together with the creative team behind the Bulgarian pavilion– our invited speakers, Prof. Dr. Daniela Koleva, Prof. Dr. Venelin Shurelov and Dr. Valentin Kalinov and Ms. Elza Dzhermanova – will explore the themes of memory and testimony. The discussion will address the following questions: How do personal memories shape our understanding of historical events? What role do artists and scholars play in preserving the memory of political violence? How can testimonies and artistic expressions influence public policy and social justice?






The Making of The Neighbours: The Artist Studio as a Transitory Archive or How to Visualize Silenced Histories? with Krasimira Butseva, Valentin Kalinov, Lilia Topouzova, Vasil Vladimirov
7th of May 2024 - 18:00-19:30 @ University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

Members of the artistic and academic team behind the Bulgarian Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale will be in Regensburg. In the public talk on 7 May some members of the team, including the artists and researchers Krasimira Butseva, Lilia Topouzova and Julian Chehirian, as well as the clinical psychologist and philosopher Valentin Kalinov, will discuss their multimedia installation about how we remember, carry and forget trauma. The exhibition excavates the silenced and faded memories of survivors of state violence from Bulgaria’s socialist era (1945–1989). Their work is based on interviews, field recordings and videos from the two camp sites Lovech and Belene. Through this work, our collective hopes to contribute to an ongoing global dialogue on human rights, memory, and the necessity of confronting and acknowledging both past and present injustices. The discussion will be chaired by UR art historian Vera Beyer. No registration is required for this event.

This ScienceCampus event takes place in cooperation with: The Center for Commemorative Culture (Zentrum Erinnerungskultur), Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies(IOS Regensburg), and the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies (GS OSES UR).

Learn more: https://zentrum-erinnerungskultur.de/events/artist-talk-the-neighbours/






Breaking Silos, Building Bridges: Interdisciplinary Collaboration among Scholars, Artists, Curators, and Cultural Agencies for Amplifying Scholarship in the Public Sphere Workshop with Lilia Topouzova, Krasimira Butseva, Vasil Vladimirov & Valentin Kalinov
6th of May 2024, 12:00-16:00 @ University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany


This workshop will be led by the scholarly and artistic team of The Neighbours collective from the Bulgarian Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale: Prof. Lilia Topouzova (Historian and Artist), Dr Krasimira Butseva (Visual Artist and Researcher), Vasil Vladimirov (Curator), and Dr Valentin Kalinov (Clinical Psychologist and Philosopher).

The workshop is aimed at graduate reserachers and students for finding creative ways of developing research output beyond traditional publications, showing how film and art can provide outlets for findings and for generating public discussions on difficult pasts.

The primary objective of our workshop is to propose a framework for interdisciplinary collaboration that spans across academia, artistic practice, curation, and cultural policy-making. Our point of departure is the dismantling of traditional barriers that often exist between these different domains of knowledge creation and dissemination. Our main aim is to enhance the visibility and impact of scholarly work and artistic practice in the broader public sphere. We invite participants who are interested in discussing practical strategies that turn scholarly research into collaborative public-facing projects. The Neighbours collective will share insights and lessons learned from our own interdisciplinary work.

Learn more: https://zentrum-erinnerungskultur.de/events/workshop-breaking-silos/



The Neighbours from Belene to Venice: Dramaturgy of Memory
with Lilia Topouzova, Krasimira Butseva, Julian Chehirian, Vasil Vladimirov, Venelin Shurelov, Daniela Koleva, Valentin Kalinov & Boris Pantev
19th of March 2024 - 18:30 - 20:00 @ Cultural Centre of Sofia University

The multimedia and interactive installation "The Neighbors," which will represent Bulgaria at this year's Venice Biennale, addresses the theme of political violence and repression which took place during the communist regime and examines its problematic legacy in the present. The discussion will focus on the questions of the relationship between the possible and the impossible in the memory of traumatic events, the boundary that separates individual and collective preservation of memories, and how contemporary visual art manages to present what remains unrepresentable for other disciplines.

Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/events/1525838807983131?ref=newsfeed




The neighbours of whom we don’t talk about with Krasimira Butseva
 _ watch recording   
16th of March 2024 10:00 - 11:00 @ Sofia Human Rights Forum

Learn more: https://www.sofiahumanrightsforum.com/en/programme





Archives, memory and history in contemporary art with Krasimira Butseva
16th of March 2024 @ Wide Art Forum, Topolocentrala, Sofia


Learn more: https://wideartforum.com/en/



Staging History: Can Art Narrate the Silenced Past? with Lilia Topouzova
15 February 2024 18:00 to 20:00 @ Kings College London, Bush House Lecture Theatre 5 BH(SE)2.09


This workshop will be led by the scholarly and artistic team of The Neighbours collective from the Bulgarian Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale: Prof. Lilia Topouzova (Historian and Artist), Dr Krasimira Butseva (Visual Artist and Researcher), Vasil Vladimirov (Curator), and Dr Valentin Kalinov (Clinical Psychologist and Philosopher).

The workshop is aimed at graduate reserachers and students for finding creative ways of developing research output beyond traditional publications, showing how film and art can provide outlets for findings and for generating public discussions on difficult pasts.

The primary objective of our workshop is to propose a framework for interdisciplinary collaboration that spans across academia, artistic practice, curation, and cultural policy-making. Our point of departure is the dismantling of traditional barriers that often exist between these different domains of knowledge creation and dissemination. Our main aim is to enhance the visibility and impact of scholarly work and artistic practice in the broader public sphere. We invite participants who are interested in discussing practical strategies that turn scholarly research into collaborative public-facing projects. The Neighbours collective will share insights and lessons learned from our own interdisciplinary work.

King's Trauma-Centred Study Group is hosting Lilia Topouzova from the University of Toronto for its annual guest lecture. Dr. Topouzova's talk will explore Bulgaria's gulag under the communist regime and the making of "The Neighbours" multimedia installation featured at the 2024 Venice Biennial which brings to light the stories and voices of survivors.

Learn more:
https://www.kcl.ac.uk/events/staging-history-can-art-narrate-the-silenced-past
The Neighbours - 2024