I have lived in America for 20 years. I was one of those who grew up under communism, reciting the poem "I am Bulgarian" because I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family of educated people with values. As a child, I thought I was doomed to never travel outside of Bulgaria because it was only a journey with connections, but life surprised me. I received a scholarship and left alone at 18. I studied, graduated and then stayed to work, to develop as a person, to expand my worldview, and to learn the art of living.
At the time, there were neither emails nor Facebook. To this day, I remember the faces of family and friends who came to send me to Sofia Airport, many of whom I never saw again. Over the years, many people have taught, offended and envied me about living abroad, how easy it is for me there, and how bad it is in Bulgaria. I know that it is difficult in Bulgaria, but I do not think that half of these people have any idea what they are envious of, or would have withstood a week of stress, stress, pace, requirements, insecurity and loneliness that one has to deal with every day abroad.
What I have certainly learned and developed outside Bulgaria is the sense of cultural identity, and respect for my country's roots and cultural heritage. Studying "History of Art in Florence" and "Western History" at the university, I realized what ancient, historical and traditional wealth we Bulgarians have. I am not one of those who says that everything starts from Bulgaria, nor that there is no better place in Bulgaria, because there are traditions, art and culture all over the world. But the more I travel and discover, I realize that we have a dignified cultural heritage that we must preserve, study and pass on to future generations. Now, as a photographer, I seek to shoot, whenever possible, and protect in the way I can, our Bulgarian heritage.

Last week, I had the privilege of filming eight incredible grandmothers and a young girl, a choir for folk songs that would "4" an hour from the village of Dryanovo in the Rhodopes to record a disc and sing at "Museum Night". This is due to the unique, patient and active girls from Baba Residence, that take all my applause. As my contribution, I wanted to take portrait photographs and all the growth of the grandmothers in the hall - the winter garden of the palace, because the light was perfect for the effect I wanted to achieve, and also because it would be very artistic for the Bulgarian heritage to shoot folklore costumes in the old palace. 

While waiting for the grandmothers and adjusting the camera, I had the utter discomfort of meeting the two directors of the National Art Gallery, who, unfortunately, are the present-day guardians and representatives of Bulgarian art and culture. There was no Good Day, no handshake or presentation, but there was an unceremonious statement with no way of communicating or explaining in a logical way, followed by expulsion because I was stigmatized as "obstructing people". I would understand if it was explained to me that I needed to book a salon in advance, or that I needed permission, but I could not understand the attitude, the way of talking and gesturing of women who, by behavior, clothing and mannerism, were frozen for me by the time of communism and recently thawed. The doorman, more like a prankster, chased the grandmothers, because they prevented movement on the stairs. Despite these individuals, the grandmothers performed brilliantly and were respected by those who showed an interest and patience to stop and listen to them. I personally spent some wonderful hours with my grandmothers, in pictures, listening to their jokes, kindness, friendship, deep spirit and what is truly Bulgarian to me.

© Tina Boyadzhieva

My Bulgaria, the culture and values ​​of my home, which must be preserved, respected, studied and continued, are represented by these grandmothers, much more than directors - neighborhoods, whose worldview and world are so narrow and limited, and are expressed emotionally harassment of others because they have somehow come to power.

Bulgaria is as much mine as it is theirs, and in response to the fraudulent attitude, the bewilderment and the limited thinking, I choose the beauty, the art and the infinity of our ancient culture and traditions. I present to you the pictures of real Bulgarians from the village of Dryanovo, which I love, and my huge applause to the girls from the Residence Grandma who, despite many obstacles, bureaucracy, lack of resources and the mentality of "Can't!", Have found a way to succeed, safeguard and perpetuate the most valuable thing for our nation.

© Tina Boyadzhieva

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