Friday, November 18, 2011
The Ivancha Reclamation Project
As each of our fellow work traders left UFO Studios to continue their travels and pursuits, we began to spend more and more time getting to know Margaret and exchanging our ideas for art with her. To utilize our passion for street art, Margaret encouraged us to wheat-paste in Ivancha, even going so far as to generously allow us to dedicate our work hours to the effort. So, invigorated, we took the opportunity to do something on a larger scale than we were used to, and immediately set out into the village to scout for the most interesting areas to wheat-paste. Our wanderings culminated in the derelict schoolhouse, a massive, beautiful, and once useful building. Saddened by its condition, we felt moved to inspire a change. That, combined with the beautiful natural light flooding the building and the empty classrooms, all unique and full of curious detritus, made us feel we had found our ideal location. Our idea for a theme to unify the project was reclamation, to reclaim the neglected spaces for constructive or creative endeavors, and we spent an entire week preparing work to symbolize it.
Catherine wanted to fill an entire classroom, to open up an otherwise unused space into a place with energy and life. Honoring what has inspired her in Bulgarian communities and culture during our travels here, and hoping to evoke a curiosity about the people depicted. The images, read like stories across the walls, describe the landscape through paper-cut silhouettes and oversized portraits of women who play interesting and important roles in traditional village life: Fatme, a woman who keeps all the traditional textile patterns in her memory like a library for the other women to consult, and Thikra, the vrachka, a wise woman and powerful folk healer who makes potions and bring people all the way from Sofia to seek her help.
Roy felt compelled initially to connect with Ivancha by pasting images of her youth in the empty and disheveled rooms of the schoolhouse. To juxtapose the harsh spaces against the bright and hopeful faces of the youth as it once harbored. However, the likelihood of connecting with the scarce youth of the village was nil, so Roy decided instead to paste portraits of his friends alongside a poem for each, as a way of honoring them so far from home and sharing a personal part of his own life with the locals. Due to his plodding pace and meticulous style, he was only able to complete five drawings and five poems in time.
It took over two hours to paste all the pieces up.
It is our hope that the people of Ivancha, along with the volunteers and artists at UFO Studios, will be inspired to take part in the Reclamation project in whatever way they see fit - reclaiming and restoring Bulgaria's neglected buildings into personal, creative sites. Perhaps one day the project will spread.