Inside Out | Sofia

Sofia, Bulgaria

36 Portraits - July 13

Statement

In the past several years, we’ve seen a serious increase in anti-Roma sentiments and actions in Bulgaria. This often becomes a strong impetus for local authorities to initiate demolition proceedings in Roma neighbourhoods. Often there is no discussion with the affected families about the possible alternatives prior to the demolition of their houses nor are they offered adequate alternative accommodation. In fact, they are left homeless.

Roma people constitute one of the country’s largest ethnic minorities that face a series of interconnected problems from lack of access to housing and healthcare to less than 1% receiving a university education, diminishing their possibilities for employment.

We worked with a group of Roma families who were evicted from their homes in the Orlandovtsi neighbourhood at the end of 2017. While the municipal authorities had initiated the eviction process nearly two years prior, the people living on “Gradinite” (The Gardens Str.) were told, most times only verbally, only a week in advance. This meant that people had only a week to find a new home and leave the place that had been their home for decades. At least 50 people were made homeless, 30 of them children. Some of the homeless were given tents by church representatives, while others created makeshift shelters comprised of debris from their destroyed homes.

The action is organized together with the Roma people from the neighbourhood. The posters are placed amidst the ruins of their homes, which are still visible in the rubble that’s left behind. Each person photographed shares their story of the meaning of home. The action seeks to raise awareness about the ongoing practice of evictions across the country without adequate notice or provision of alternative housing. It brings attention to this community that rarely get a chance to tell their side of the story.

The action is organised by Fine Acts (fineacts.co), a global platform for socially engaged creative solutions. We collaborated with the Bulgarian photographer Vesselina Nikolaeva. Our mission is to nurture collaborations between human rights activists and artists to produce powerful art and create effective advocacy or raising awareness campaigns. We believe that art is one of the best ways to challenge social injustices.

Photographs of the installation by Mihail Novakov


Video


Into The Wild

These photos show the posters pasted in the streets

Portraits