The Neighbours is an interactive multimedia installation that brings to light the silenced and faded memories of survivors of political violence during the Communist era in Bulgaria. The project was created by Krasimira Butseva, Lilia Topouzova and Julian Chehirian, and is the result of 20 years of historical and artistic research. Vasil Vladimirov is the project curator in the context of Bulgaria’s official participation in the 60th Venice Biennale.
The installation partially recreates the survivors’ homes in which the meetings and conversations with them unfolded. Staged within these private spaces are fragments from oral history interviews conducted by the artists, field recordings and videos from two former camp sites—Lovech and Belene.
These ethnographic and historical investigations trace both the lived experience of violence and the deep scars left by arrests and imprisonment. The project presents the consequences of the deliberate silencing of decades of state violence and the absence of memory in contemporary public consciousness. It forms a space in which one can bear witness to those people labelled as foreigners within Bulgaria’s borders, in direct response to Adriano Pedrosa’s call to analyse the theme of ‘Foreigners Everywhere’.