On the 25th anniversary of democracy in Bulgaria, United States artist Brian Dailey embarked on a photographic journey of the country documenting its political electorate. The results are on display at the City Art Gallery in Plovdiv from the official opening on July 7 at 6pm until August 7 2015.
Building on a similar series he conducted in the US from 2010 to 2012 and entitled “America in Color”, Dailey set out to document the broad diversity and character of the Bulgarian voter as the country completed its latest national election in the autumn of 2014.
The project took him and his team across Bulgaria from its mountains, to its plains and to the shores.
“Captured in this series are the full-length portraits of the Bulgarian electorate who used the ballot box as a means to express their hopes and desire for the future direction of their country. These are the portraits of the everyday citizen and worker expressing themselves in a portrait that not only declares how they voted in the most recent election, but also expressing something about their own character and identity in the process,” a media statement on the US embassy website said.
Captured through his lens are hunters, waiters, artists, shop owners, factory workers, and more as they express themselves and their identity from a pose that ranges from reflective to the humorous.
Over the course of this project, Dailey took more than 450 portraits capturing the breadth and depth of a culture whose origins dates back to 5000 BCE.
“From the Bulgar to the Turk to the Roma and beyond, he has captured the ethnic character of the nation. His camera was not limited, however, to any particular age group but instead highlights the generational differences of the new to senior voter, as well as the rural and urban individual who makeup the constituents of this country. Of the more than 450 portraits 128 were selected for this exhibition with the goal of maintaining the diversity and character of democratic Bulgaria.”
Unlike the US, Bulgaria is a politically diverse country with many political parties.
In the October 2014 election alone, more than 25 parties competed resulting in eight elected to the Parliament.
To document this political diversity, Dailey asked the subject of the portrait to declare their political party affiliation by holding a placard, which included the ballot number of their party and colour affiliation used on the ballot during this election.
While limited to the political parties that won a seat in Parliament, the series nonetheless, offers a colourful and compelling look at the Bulgarian voter and political system at this time in history.
While nearly 50 per cent of Bulgarian voters decided not to vote, Dailey includes them in the series by having them hold up a black placard to express their decision to abstain.