Uchilishte
Project info

1989 marked the end of communist rule in Bulgaria. Ever since, the Bulgarian population has been in decline. The country has got the most extreme population decline in the world. In 28 years time Bulgaria's population has gone from 9 to 7 million. A decline of more than 20 percent.

Every year, less children are being born and more young people leave the country. There are more than 650 villages where less than 50 people live. Hundreds of villages don't exist anymore, because there are no inhabitants left.

The most visible consequence of the depopulation are the closed schools. As the population dwindles, there are less and less children to fill the schools. Every year dozens of schools close their doors as education gets centralised in the bigger towns. In 2008 alone, more than 300 schools did not reopen after summer. Some of the buildings have been renovated and are back in use as housing or a hotel. Most of them remain abandoned.

The title of this series is "uchilishte", or "school" in Bulgarian. This series aims to document the disappearing Bulgarian schools as a eulogy to a fading nation. I want to capture the sadness and stillness of these places and evoke memories of ones own youth. These buildings were once the cradle of the country's future, but now they're nothing but empty and neglected monuments to better times.