Baba Gore, Baba Dolu: A family gravity
Family. My family. Do I know them? How about you? Do you? Do you know your family?
Mom, dad, my brother, my sister, grandma, grandpa…. Who are they? Or who am I?
While looking for an answer to these questions I started shooting the project “Baba Gore, Baba Dolu”. A project devoted to my family and my hometown.
I always knew my family was different, not like the others. And I always wondered, why is that so. Why are my loved ones so sad. Why do we keep secrets from each other? Why is it so hard to talk to each other?
I knew in part all of this was because of a huge family tragedy, that struck us all during 1998. My uncle and aunt died, leaving my cousins orphans, my grandparents without a son and my mother without a brother. I was only ten years old at the time, but I still see this as the time when a massive dark cloud swallowed us all. Everybody started to look for a way to save themselves both separately and together at the same time. Us kids, we would just escape into our childhood, trying to keep it as long as possible, and the grown ups stopped talking about the deceased as if they never existed, so they could numb out their pain. We all tried to recover the balance of the previous life, but nothing was really as it was before. It was around that time that my mom descended into depression she is still struggling with to this day. “That’s life” was the phrase I heard most often in my childhood. “That’s life…”
Then I didn’t understand that I can’t gasp the logic of our family’s microcosmos from the inside. It can only be done from a distance.
I started my work on “Baba Gore, Baba Dolu” during 2012, three years after I left my hometown to study photography at the academy in Sofia. It was then that I finally was able to look at my family from a different perspective. One time I went home during a school break. I was feeling sad because my family was sinking once more in the dark cloud of desperation and sadness. I started taking pictures looking for a simple relieve and peace. It all happened by accident, almost as a child’s play. Just took the camera and did some portraits of my grandmother against the background of different rooms in our house. And from this day, I started seeing things differently. The rooms of the old house where I grew up appeared bright new in front of my camera. Something I hadn’t seen before. My emotional memories merged with the reality of photography. During the first couple of years I was only taking pictures of my grandmothers, until the day I realized I was actually slowly developing a complex project. This project led me in a direction I was afraid to follow. The direction towards “Who am I?”
It is then that I understood what I was making. I had spontaneously started an anthropological research of my family. While telling their story, I was framing a large portrait of myself. During 2015 one of my grandmas passed away. After her funeral, my other grandma said to me, “It was good you took so many pictures of us. Now you’ll always have her on your pictures”.
Today I take pictures of my family with great love. Thanks to this project, I started to understand them better - my family the way it was. And this lead me to understand myself better too. Now I am always looking forward to my next homecoming, to capture the passing time in my hometown, take more portraits of my most inspiring models - my family.