As we are approaching the opening of the 18th Architectural Biennale in Venice, Bulgaria has unveiled the theme and details of its exhibition pavilion titled “Education is the movement from darkness to light” which brings light to the rapid population decline that happened the last 30 years in the country.
Bulgaria’s pavilion is curated by the architects Boris Tikvarski, Bojidara Valkova, and Mariya Gyaurova together with the Belgian photographer Alexander Dumarey.
“The topic of the Biennale is ‘The Laboratory of the Future’ as Africa is in the spotlight. The problems that will be examined through the prism of the projects are not only related to poverty but to the turbulent development of the continent and the problems stemming from it,’ explains architect Bozhidara Valkova.
“Our topic is also related to two negative trends in Bulgaria – depopulation and aging of the population. While being a visual expression of the theme ‘Education is the movement from darkness to light’, the project focuses on a number of issues that we need to address in order to be able to look forward to the future.”
Showcasing information about the photographed schools, furniture, and tools collected from the abandoned school sites, the curators collaborated with institutions and municipalities to gather these artifacts.
As the population declines, according to the architects’ team, there will be fewer and fewer children to occupy the schools.
To visually illustrate the process of abandonment and population decline, the curators and Alexander Dumarey will document the processes of population decline and the abandoned schools of the country under three main zones.
The exhibition is divided into three main zones: the entrance, the classroom, and the interview/debate area.
These spaces are inviting visitors to gradually immerse themselves in the complex and pressing issue of shrinking regions.
“The project will become a platform for thoughtful consideration, prompting visitors to engage in dialogue about the challenges we face,” state the curators.
“How do we cope with shrinking regions? How to address preservation? How to adapt to change?” are the questions emphasized at the exhibition.
These topics have been absent and not widely discussed in the country and the curators hope to provoke and lay the foundations for a more conscientious and informed discourse about shrinking and abandoned regions.
According to the curators, such phenomena exist throughout the entire Eastern block and forecast a global population decline.
The project was selected following a national competition organized by The Ministry of Culture, The Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria, and the Union of Architects.
Project: “Education is the Movement from Darkness to Light” – Bulgarian Pavilion for the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale
Architects/ Curators: Boris Tikvarski, Bojidara Valkova, and Mariya Gyaurova
Photographers: Alexander Dumarey