An "anthropological roadtrip," in the words of its creator, renowned photographer, writer and journalist Anthony Georgieff, The Bulgarians is a collection of mainly black-and-white photographs produced during the past 10 years, purporting to explain in visual terms the ongoing identity crisis of this little known country in the Balkans.
Georgieff offers a critical, yet sympathetic view of ordinary Bulgarians going about their daily business, only to suggest universal, even existential problems and inspire self-reflection.
With a foreword by Georgi Lozanov, one of Bulgaria's top intellectuals and critics, The Bulgarians will have you lurching between heartbreak and enchantment.
Anthony Georgieff's vision subverts any expectation of cliched cultural certainties, and instead offers us an ambiguous love letter, an offroad trip into the margins of Europe, and a many-faced tale of a vanishing place. This place is both an intimate, behind-the-scenes Bulgaria caught between worlds, and the photographer's own heart of an exile in his own land – as are many of the people there. A rare honest portrait of a nation on the edge of Europe, this book is a gift to anyone with an interest in European histories and cultures, now and in the future. Imbued with Georgieff's trademark humanity and bathos, The Bulgarians will have you lurching between heartbreak and enchantment.
Kapka Kassabova, writer, Bulgaria/New Zealand/Scotland
Anthony Georgieff takes us on a journey into an unknown land, which he presents to us from a critical, yet ironically tender-hearted perspective.
Andreas Müller-Pohle, artist and publisher, European Photography, Berlin
The photographs of Anthony Georgieff exist in that exquisite space between the public and the private, his subjects living lives both hopeful and resigned, in situations at once mundane and extraordinary. The Bulgarians is documentary art at its finest: The poet-guide shining a light on the simple humanity that unites ordinary people, so that we might see for ourselves the complicated identity of a country, and its people, at a crossroads.
Kevin Larimer, Editor, Poets & Writers Magazine, New York
Georgieff’s significant body of work addresses some of the identity issues that may still burden the Bulgarians in the wake of their cultural abjection of historically dominant external powers. The Bulgarians is an impassioned exploration of intersecting collective and individual identities in modern Bulgaria that abounds with male wit and references and with female sensuality, and offers a social perspective very different from Kristeva’s feminist and psychoanalytic ideas of what constitutes such subjects.
Henning Wettendorff, photo historian and curator, Denmark
For the small nations of Southeast Europe the question of identity has always been an extremely emotional and mostly painful one. In his photographs Anthony Georgieff manages to portray, like a distanced visual anthropologist, a variety of aspects of contemporary Bulgaria that are highly informative for the outsider but are also a call to his Bulgarian readers for self-reflection and perspective change.
Professor Juliana Roth, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
The Bulgarians invokes the power of what’s unposed, of the unscripted moments of daily living. These photographs are an exploration of the quotidian, of the beautiful and the banal, the tragic and the true. Georgieff’s photographs capture the range of human experience, offering them not as monoliths but as humble testimony to the many ways Bulgarians live. It is the tension between what lasts and what fades that makes this work so provocative, reminding us of the transient beauty of our own lives, tragedy and toil bound up with happiness and joy.
Jeremiah Chamberlin, English Department Writing Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor