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Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

Bulgaria Architecture News - Apr 17, 2023 - 17:14   1776 views

Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

The Bulgarian Pavilion has released its theme and details about its exhibition at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Architecture Biennale 2023.

Themed Education is the Movement from Darkness to Light, the Bulgarian Pavilion will explore the traces of existence, depopulation, urban decline, rural flight and the abandoned schools in Bulgaria

The exhibition is curated by Boris Tikvarski, Bojidara Valkova and Mariya Gyaurova together with the Belgian photographer Alexander Dumarey.

Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

Rayovo, 2017. Image © Alexander Dumarey

Focusing on an exploration of a future marked by urban decline and rural flight, the exhibition will showcase images collected during Alexander Dumarey's travels in the country. 

The show will present information about the photographed schools, furniture and tools collected from the abandoned school sites. The curators collaborated with institutions and municipalities to gather these artefacts.

The project was selected following a national competition organised by The Ministry of Culture, The Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria and the Union of Architects.

Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

Plodovitovo, 2017. Image © Alexander Dumarey

As the team emphasized, the country has been facing a rapid population decline over the past three decades and the phenomenon is expected to continue in the future. As the population declines, according to the 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, classroom, and the interview/debate area. These spaces are inviting visitors to gradually immerse themselves in the complex and pressing issue of shrinking regions.

Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

Levunovo, 2019. Image © Alexander Dumarey

"The exhibition's scenography is more than a mere backdrop; it is a platform for thoughtful consideration, prompting visitors to engage in dialogue about the challenges we face," said the curators.

"How do we cope with shrinking regions? How to address preservation? How to adapt to change?," which are the questions emphasized at the exhibition.

"The 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 regions," the team added.

Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

Malomir, 2021. Image © Alexander Dumarey

The phenomena is not unique to the country, but pervades throughout the entire Eastern block, and forecasts predict a global population decline. 

The exhibition invites visitors to think critically about the broader implications and to participate actively in creating solutions.

Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

Pobeda, 2022. Image © Alexander Dumarey

Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

Darkness to Light, 2023. Image © POV 

Bulgarian Pavilion will explore depopulation and abandoned schools of the country in Venice Biennale

Darkness to Light, 2023. Image © POV

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 will take place from Saturday 20 May to Sunday 26 November, 2023 at the Arsenale and Giardini venues.

The theme of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale is The Laboratory of the Future curated by Lesley Lokko

Several pavilions announced their themes and details for the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, such as Gabriela De Matos and Paulo Tavares were announced as the curators of the Brazilian Pavilion, the Danish Pavilion will explore Coastal Imaginaries curated by Josephine Michau.

More recently, the Korean Pavilion announced its theme, 2086: Together How?, the Austrian Pavilion presented its theme PARTECIPAZIONE / BETEILIGUNG, the Spanish Pavilion presented its theme Foodscapes at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Polish Pavilion will present Datament and the Türkiye Pavilion will present Ghost Stories: The Carrier Bag Theory of Architecture at this year's biennale. 

Top image: Slavyanovo. Image © Alexander Dumarey.

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Bulgarian Pavilion education pavilion school Venice Architecture Biennale