Bulgarian Icons – The End of History
08.09.2014 § 2 Comments
Photographer Lyubomir Sergeev asks a painful question: would the treasured heroes of Bulgaria’s past stab themselves in the heart or shoot themselves if they could see what their country is like today? In painstaking detail, he recreates the dress and time periods of six great Bulgarian men and creates a new kind of portrait: one that not only inspires, but also forces us to think harder, to be better.
From the photographer’s page:
“This is the story of the long journey of a beautiful small country which has successfully been destroying itself through corruption, vileness, and political machinations that led to the painful agonizing existence of today’s generation. We and our families grew up in Bulgaria and never gave up. We continue our fight and critical thinking and this is our protest against the Present, our resentment and disillusionment, through the eyes of our rich history. Bulgaria’s celebrated Past is the only thing keeping us going and that is why, in order for us to be heard, we dared strike in its very heart, obliterate it and strip our nation from its pride and dignity.
We undertook this long journey into the past to meet these khans, kings, monks, freedom fighters, poets, and princes, to show them Bulgaria today and hear their last resolve. This is how they answered us – with disappointment, disgust and pain.”
Represented in the six-photograph series are the following Bulgarians. (Click on any image to see the full, uncropped gallery on the photographer’s site)
Khan Asparukh, the ruler who first brought the Bulgarians south of the Danube and established the First Bulgarian Kingdom in 681 CE.
Tsar Kaloyan, third ruler of the Second Bulgarian Empire who defeated the Latin Crusaders at Adrianople in 1205 CE and presided over Bulgaria’s second Golden Age.
Paisiy Hilendarski (St. Paisius of Hilendar), a Bulgarian monk who in 1762 CE compiled the first written history of Medieval Bulgaria, Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya, and kick-started the period of National Revival that led to liberation from the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of the Bulgarian national identity.
Stefan Karadja, one of the Bulgarian folk heroes who in the mid-19th century began organizing armed revolts against the Ottomans and protecting the common Bulgarian people.
Hristo Botev, the poet-revolutionary who sacrificed his life at the altar of Bulgarian freedom, bringing 200 volunteers across the Danube from Romania in the face of overwhelming odds and becoming one of the timeless, unsullied symbols of Bulgarian courage. The day of his death, June 2, 1876, is Bulgaria’s Remembrance Day.
Knyaz Alexander I Battenberg, first ruler of modern Bulgaria: a young, idealistic prince who led Bulgaria after its liberation on March 3, 1878 and through the Unification with Eastern Rumelia.