Tsarino kitchen

For the last month we have basically been ‘off radar’… and we are pleased to report that this time has been intensely productive and contemplative.

In 2011 we took part in a 10 day residency in an abandoned village in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria. Two days before we arrived we learned that Andrew’s grandma in Canada had died. Whilst in the stillness of the hills, immersed in the physical presence of so many living things, we talked about and contemplated death in a meaningful way for the first time. There were no distractions – no internet, TV or electricity… only mundane physical tasks such as carrying water, building fire and preparing food. The hills in Tsarino are dense with trees and surround the village on all sides. The sky is small and the horizon close. At night the stars are brighter and more abundant than I have ever seen before.

Tsarino view

The 10 days we spent in Tsarino in 2011 left a big impression on us both- they were intense and difficult and we never thought we would return. In April this year, we realised that we needed to be there again to understand and develop the film we are making. Our current project is an on-going exploration into Andrew’s loss of his mother in childhood and investigates the nature of memory and relationships between the sexes. Combining performance, documentary and constructed scenes, we are working towards a short multi-screen film to be completed in Spring 2014.

The intuitive need to return to Tsarino has proved to be right. For three weeks we sketched and wrote and talked and shot. The film revealed it’s face to us for the first time, and we were able to glimpse what we are working towards. What a fantastic feeling.

The office

Of course, we also had a great time with the other artists and organisers and we eventually started to feel like a little family- living through the frustrations and joys of the organised chaos of communal life without modern conveniences! Tsarino is a very special place which has left its mark on both Andrew and I, and we really feel that the strange energy of the place will pervade our film.

Thank you so much to the Tsarino Foundation for having us, and to all of the artists (our new friends!).

Tsarino is a small village in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, near the border with Greece, which was left behind thirty years ago. The AIR programmes organised by Tsarino Foundation are part of a long-term research project on art in such a remote place, inviting artists to explore the context of Tsarino and its specific living/working conditions. Many of the houses in the village are derelict, carrying traces of its previous inhabitants and their withdrawal. The foundation has seven houses in use that have been refurbished to provide artists with accommodation and studio space. Without electricity and in an isolated location, the circumstances in Tsarino are very elementary. Since its abandonment, Tsarino has been a deserted place used only occasionally by people passing through while herding animals or collecting herbs. Artists are invited to adapt their practice to the conditions of Tsarino, and to use the village as an art environment.

Tsarino group

PHOTOS: Ioana Gheorghiu and Marije Roos

1 Comment

  1. Chris Bone
    October 20, 2013

    Great to get an update on the project – keep them coming! Tsarino sounds incredible. Take care. XX <– one for each of you 🙂


Leave a Reply