Recorded Memories

Forget Your Past, 2009 - 2012
Pictures


The Memorial House of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) stands 1,432 metres above sea level on Mount Buzludja in the Balkan Mountains. It was erected for the 90th anniversary of the Buzludja Congress, where the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party (the BCP’s predecessor) was founded. The congress was held on 2 August 1891, near the site where the Bulgarian revolutionary Hadji Dimitar was fatally wounded by an Ottoman search party in 1868. In 1944, three guerilla movement members were killed in the same area. A capsule with soil from Mount Buzludja was taken to outer space in 1978 by the first Bulgarian cosmonaut.

The silhouette of the monument’s lower body resembles a wreath, while the 70-metre pillar towering above it evokes a flying communist flag. Verses from “The Internationale” and “The Workers’ March” were inscribed over the main entrance, while the interiors were faced with marble, granite and red velvet. Two concentric mosaic murals representing “the heroic history of the Communist Party” encircle the main hall, focusing on Marx, Engels and Lenin, as well as on the founder of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party Dimitar Blagoev, “the Leipzig hero” Georgi Dimitrov, and “the loyal son of party and people” Todor Zhivkov.
The dome of the nearly 15-metre-tall hall is decorated with a stylized hammer and sickle, and the slogan “Workers of the world, unite!”. Brilliantly lit up at night, the monument with its giant ruby glass stars could be seen from a distance of up to 30 kilometres.
The construction cost of the BCP Memorial House at Buzludja totaled 25 million leva, at the time equivalent to approximately 25 million US dollars. Of this sum, 16.2 million was secured through “voluntary donations” rom Bulgarian citizens, while the rest came from the state budget. Workers, students and pensioners were each asked to contribute a different amount in exchange for a souvenir stamp of corresponding value.

The monument's inauguration was part of a nationwide rally commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Bulgarian Communist Party and was held on 23 August. The ceremony was attended by the leader of the French Communist Party Georges Marchais, his Portuguese counterpart Alvaro Cunhal and the Secretary General of the Bulgarian Communist Partyand Chairman of the State Council Todor Zhivkov. In the first years after its completion, the Memorial House of the BCP could only be visited with advance notice. The main hall was used for initiation ceremonies for new recruits to the Communist Party, student oaths, literary readings, etc. In November 1989, when Todor Zhivkov, who had been the country’s leader for 35 years, stepped down, the new political leadership ordered the removal of his portrait from the mural in the main hall. In early 1992, the Memorial House was nationalized under the Totalitarian Organizations’ Property Confiscation Law, becoming a frequent target of attacks and looting in the ensuing years. In September 2011, the Bulgarian government voted to return the monument to the Bulgarian Socialist Party, successor of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

 

Nikola Mihov
Born 1982 in Sofia, Bulgaria; lives in Sofia and Paris, France

Mihov studied photography at the New Bulgarian University. He is the recipient of the 2012 Prize for Photojournalism of the Association of Bulgarian Journalists. He was also awarded the second prize of the BG Press Photo 2012. Nominations for Vienna’s Essl Museum Еssl Art Award in 2011, and for the Salon de la Photo prize in Paris in 2012.

Solo exhibitions:
Forget Your Past, Sofia Architecture Week, Sofia, Bulgaria 2011. Forget Your Past, Bulgarian Cultural Institute, Berlin, Germany, 2010. Goat Milk festival, Bela Rechka, Bulgaria, 2010. Forget Your Past, Photomonth London, UK, 2009. This Is Not A Gateway Festival, London, UK, 2009. Sofia Art Gallery – An inside glimpse, Sofia Art Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2009. Near the Fence, 5th Fair of Culture, Student centre, Zagreb, Croatia 2008

Group exhibitions:
Raw Art Fair, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2012. EAST of BEST – Young Bulgarian Contemporary Art, Roodkapje Gallery, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2012. Menotrentuno_03 – Giovane violenza, Ex Convento del Carmelo, Sassari, Italy, 2012. ESSL Art Award CEE 2011, Academia Gallery, National Academy of Art, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2011. Menotrentuno, Young European Photography Festival, Sardinia, Italy, 2011.