Tsarino Art Residency
The Tsarino Foundation is an international collective of artists and an architect. While restoring and maintaining the formerly abandoned village of Tsarino in the Bulgarian Eastern Rhodope Mountains, their main purpose is to function as an art platform. Using the village of Tsarino as an art space, the foundation organises artist-in-residence programmes, exhibitions and other cultural events. This way, the foundation aims to offer a platform for cultural exchange between people of the area and guest artists, as well as preserve Tsarino as a village. The AiR programmes are part of a wider research project placing contemporary art in the rural and remote environment of Tsarino, inviting artists to explore its unique context, living and working conditions.
Due to COVID-19, it is impossible to say when the circumstances will allow for an artist residency again. However, the Tsarino Foundation has decided to follow through with the official opening of their new exhibition space, the Razklon Gallery, a roadside showcase. The isolated location of the showcase naturally provides a safe place in the current corona crisis; located in the mids of nature it exists far away from the virus and the crowds. To add extra visibility, all works in the showcase are carefully documented and published online. This way, the foundation hopes to continue functioning as an art platform, hosting artists from all around the world.
With the Razklon Gallery, the foundation aims to maintain a continuous exhibition, presenting new work several times a year. The exhibition takes place between hills, fields and forests with the local community, cows and other animals as its primary audience. The official opening of the gallery is planned for 1st June 2020. The foundation is looking for works that somehow relate to the showcase, its environment or the remoteness of the setting, or oppose this entirely. Please look at their website for more information.
With the Razklon Gallery, the Tsarino Foundation offers artists the opportunity to show their work for one month between hills, fields and forests, next to a dusty road where the local cows make their daily trip to their pastures. All works in the showcase are carefully documented and published online. It is also possible to conclude a residency with an exhibition in the local cultural centre or to organise open studios in Tsarino.
- Artists on the self-funded residency will have a dedicated studio throughout their residency.
- For artists on a programme funded by the foundation, a workspace can be arranged. There is ample space in the village, think of empty houses surrounded by fields and forests. The foundation will happily show the artists what is available and help them find a spot that meets their requirements.
The foundation currently uses seven habitable houses which have been renovated on a very basic level to provide artists with accommodation and studio space. In recent years, the foundation has improved the general facilities by reinstating old water lines, rebuilding parts of the road network, constructing an outdoor kitchen and setting up a solar-powered electrical charging station. However, because of its remote location and being off-grid, the conditions remain very basic. Artists are offered a private room furnished with a desk, mattress, pillow, and sheets.
Tsarino is a small village in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, near to the Greek border. It was abandoned over thirty years ago by all original inhabitants except one. This was due to a combination of factors, one of which is its isolated setting amongst hills and forests. Over time, most original inhabitants moved to Chorbadzhiysko, a nearby town revolving around agriculture, growing predominately peppers and tobacco. Tsarino (its previous name in Turkish was Hasyurt) belongs to a Pomak community of Muslim Bulgarians. Pomaks are a minority group living side by side with the ethnic Turkish community, making up over half of the population in this region.
Although abandoned, Tsarino is still of significance to the communities of the area. Its mosque and graveyard are still maintained and used. Some families visit their houses, pick fruits or ‘park’ their cows in the village. The animals can take care of themselves and use the empty houses as their homes. In recent years, the local community has shown a growing interest in Tsarino. Previous inhabitants of Tsarino have taken initiatives to restore their houses or a stretch of road.