IMAGO INTERNATIONAL ARTIST RESIDENCY
BULGARIA, eastern europe, the balkans
Located in "The Village of Peace", Tsarimir, right next to Europe's cultural capital for 2019 - the city of Plovdiv - IMAGO International Artist Residency is a liberating space for visual artists and creatives seeking simple and comfortable working environment for their projects' development. It is also a source for artistic growth and inspiration, stemming from the unusual local culture, the inherent natural freedom of the place, the fascinating sights and experiences within the residency as well as the professional curatorial support offered by its founders... Our mission is to create a setting where your artistic potential blossoms!
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IMAGO offers more than just time and solitude. In this place, if you are open to it, you find magic. The shepherds, the animals, the people, the land, the local food, and the history will inspire you, while Teddy and Rado offer their unconditional support. They asked questions that challenged me in the best way and provided different perspectives and insight at every critique. They brought us to places, performances, and cultural events, exposing us to the contemporary art scene in Bulgaria. I left feeling a part of something bigger than myself. IMAGO transformed me and I now have a greater understanding of my work and feel a deep connection to Tsarimir. I highly recommend IMAGO for those looking to step outside their comfort zone and for those open to the wonders of Tsarimir.
Jillian Goodwin, USA
Leslie Campbell, USA
Installations, objecs, collages, painting
With their signature yellow ochre paint on the barn and matching sunset in the distance, this residency stirred up a lot of creativity during my stay. It seems fitting that they have chosen such a warm, glowing color since yellow works well with our creativity. Studies show it helps you feel expressive, curious, and experimental. The weather also was an added bonus during my 30 day stay. It was sunny and warm nearly every single day in October!
For me, this residency was about feeling the fear of traveling alone and doing it anyway. I’ve done plenty of travel in my life but never alone to a remote Bulgarian village. It made me feel brave and empowered. Additionally, as an artist, I wanted to really dig deep and work hard creating something different. IMAGO provides everything you need to live comfortably and gently nudges you to surrender to your environment: one you’ll never forget in your lifetime. It was a true cultural experience that cultivated ideas in my head that I never would have had in my home town of Wilmington, NC.
The village of Tsarimir and home of IMAGO somehow works into your skin and you suddenly feel gripped with creativity. If you allow yourself to surrender to the almost surreal surroundings and sit with abandoned structures, and walk the empty spaces and observe time worn infrastructure, the same magic will happen for you. If you take time to listen to the birds in the courtyard, or sift through vintage records in the house and listen to them, and maybe sip a little Rakia in the evening, magic will happen.
You have to be able to adapt to solitude. It is what I sought to have in the beginning. But remember that making connections with your other residency friends is important. Try to establish a routine, have a drink together and don’t let competitiveness enter the room. Enjoy each other’s company at night, learn about their craft. It’s important to stay positive and not let negative energy seep into the cracks. If it’s there for some odd reason, quietly go In the other direction and make friends with the artist within. Go for walks in the neighborhood or grab a cold drink at the village center. Language barriers are for real here and you might have to just smile your way through a situation.
You will have new Bulgarian friends forever and every single person I met had a worry free attitude that instantly broke down any anxious feelings I had brought with me. You’ll quickly learn that relaxing and not sweating the small stuff is key to life here (along with yogurt, cheese and Rakia). It has shifted my perspective on life and I have adopted the phrase: “it’s no problem” whenever I start to feel stressed.
Rado and Teddy were especially accommodating and very knowledgeable about art history and curating. I enjoyed our conversations immensely and learned so much about exhibiting. They have an extensive friendly network of people in the art world and I left feeling accepted, accomplished and inspired. They are friends forever.
Iris Tsang, Hong Kong
Visual artist, Installations, Embroidery
My experience with IMAGO was wonderfully enriching, I was expecting a peaceful environment for creating, and ended up inspired greatly and had a very enjoyable time. Tedy and Rado are the most caring and warmest people you would meet - passionate, professional, and curious in knowing you – always ready to help during my creative process and make sure I have fun too.
It was a spontaneous decision to join the residency, but the duo had been very helpful and supportive throughout. Although I had little time to research prior the residency, I was given resources related to my art practice and interest upon arrival to help developing ideas. Tours in Plovdiv and traditional workshops related to my art discipline with the locals arranged by the duo also made the residency unique cultural advanture.
The residency in Tsarimir was relaxing and cozy. I enjoyed creating my textile artworks in the smaller studio, fitting right in with the beautiful, traditional patterned carpets. I was lucky to experience a change of season from Summer to Fall during my September stay, giving myself space to appreciate subtle simplicity in nature, I’d recommend both seasons if you are planning to apply to the residency.
The exhibition was well organized, a great occasion to meet the local art scene and other international artists. I was gratefully taken care and spoilt by both Tedy and Rado’s family. No matter what your expectation and plans you had, IMAGO artist residency allows you freedom to explore, inspire and shape the experience perfectly for you.
It was super! Theodora and Rado are amazing human beings, Rado's parents as well. They will make your stay last for ever in your memory. The inhabitants of the Village are great and always offered us fruits and veggie. The final exhibition was a great success and the Plovdiv art scene is worth to discover! Do not hesitate. Elsa Duault , July 2019
Elsa Duault, France / South Africa
This is a wonderful residency! I have several years of experience with artist residencies around Europe, and this was certainly the most welcoming, friendly, and supportive one that i've experienced! Radoslav and Teodora are super helpful, always recommending new people to meet and places to check out in support of your artwork, and seem to know everything and everyone within the Bulgarian art scene. On top of the amazing professional support, the setting is awesome! an idyllic village house and studio with all the peaceful charm needed to really make steps with your work. Highly, highly recommend applying for this residency, and I consider the organizers as friends as a result of my time there in July 2019!
Galen Gibson-Cornell, USA
Jelena Djuraskovic, Montenegro
Where to begin :)
First, I'm an introvert who needs peace and loneliness to create. I cannot say that I was not scared of the new environment, what kind of people would welcome me, whether we would get along, etc. when I was on my way to Tsarimir. However, all my fears have disappeared since I first saw Rado and Tedy, the first time they met me at Sofia Airport. That's where the wonderful story begins, in which Rado and Tedy, along with Galen, Elza and I, became good friends. With the perfect vibe we could create without pressure and I found my peace in Tsarimir. I think I was more productive than ever in my life in such a short time!
Rado and Tedy are wonderful big-hearted people. They were there for everything I needed and we could see that they put a lot of effort into us artists to make it a more pleasant and beautiful experience. These are people who have dedicated their lives to studying the arts and participating in the advancement of the arts, and I think they are doing a very good job. When they were not in Tsarimir we were always in touch, and when we needed something there were Rado's parents who are also two wonderful people who treated me like their own family. They were so warm and friendly, I thank them very much for that.
In breaks from work we talked, got to know each other, watched movies, drank beer and rakia, enjoyed the stars and the music. As for me, I could dance, look at the sky and absorb the nature around me without interruption, which I needed in the process of my creative work :) The village is half an hour away from Plovdiv where it is very easy to reach by bus. Plovdiv is a nice place to walk, we toured the galleries together, ate kebabs and enjoyed the summer.
We had a final exhibition in Sofia to show the product of our creativity in this month. I think it was very successful, the visit from people was huge. Bulgarians are open to questions and talk about the artwork we have created, and this was my opportunity to get out of the comfort zone and start opening up to this kind of world.
I do not know how to describe in words my great satisfaction with this experience. I will always remember the wonderful people I met and the month of July 2019 as one of the most beautiful months of my life. I am grateful to Rado and Tedy for giving me the opportunity to participate in their program in July in which I fully felt accomplished as an artist. Love you all guys!
Kostas Papakostas, UK / Greece
Visual artist, video art, experimental documentary
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Earlier this year I was offered a residency in Goa, in Barcelona and in Tsarimir. I chose the Tsarimir one.
I had very little idea of what to expect from IMAGO and after spending 4 weeks in May I feel very fortunate with my choice and I can’t recommend the residency highly enough!
Firstly, Rado and Teodora, the couple that run the residency were extremely helpful, professional and above all great people. From the moment i arrived to Sofia, they took care of everything and they were very helpful with all the practical aspects so i could focus on my creative process without any worries or distractions.
They are both deeply passionate and very knowledgable about the arts and our exchange of creative ideas and views was pleasant and often helpful to my creative process. Their active involvement with the art scene in Bulgaria helped me understand the art culture and circuit in this very interesting country. It also led to an exhibition in Sofia at the end of my residency, which was really great!
The location and the residency were absolutely perfect for me. Living at the small village of Tsarimir meant that i could pause my busy life in London and fully focus on my creative process and work. The place is very peaceful and comfortable and you can tell that the guys have put a lot of love into creating it. I was lucky to have the big studio all for myself and i turned it into a creative playground! While Rado and Teodora spent a lot of time in Sofia, Rado’s parents that live next door, were very helpful when needed and always welcoming. Humble people with golden hearts!
The village is very interesting too. It offers a glimpse to a remote and rural life of an East European country. Walking through the streets often felt like travelling in time. The locals are genuine and friendly and if you are prepared to open up they will open up too, although there is a language barrier. There is a small hardware store (which came handy when i run out of brushes and paints) and a few small shops to buy food, drinks and local produce.
Plovdiv, the second biggest city in Bulgaria is just 30mins away and it’s beautiful, with many art material shops, cafes and a nice creative vibe. What else to say…It’s been 3 weeks since I left IMAGO and I still miss enjoying a glass of the local Raki under the clear sky after a long days’ work at the studio!
Blagodarya IMAGO. Until next year!
Ties Ten Bosch, Germany / Netherlands, Visual and Conceptual artist
IMAGO is in one word, great! One month was surely too short. Rado and Teddy did a great job, not only hosting a great residence location with good studios and living arrangements, but also provided a fantastic introduction into the Bulgarian contemporary art scene. After being picked up from the airport by Teddy and Rado, we received a very warm welcome by Rado's parents at the old family house in Tsarimir, where the residency is located. When our hosts sometimes had to be elsewhere, we were warmly hosted by the parents, Ilia and Yonka. Together, they made our stay not only artisticly very fruitful, but provided a super homely and warm enviromnemt.
Tsarimir is a very small village. It feels like time slows down there, which makes it perfect to concentrate on your work. The studios and house add up to that too. The beautiful surrounding and the friendly people create a surrounding in which you get into a great flow. What was surprisingly nice and interesting were the studio visits from Teddy and Rado over the month. It really helped my to develop my work and find interesting new ways of looking at my own work.
Plovdiv, the closest city, turns out to be a vibrant city where you can find all the basic things for your art practice. Besides that, it is a great place where you can find nice little restaurants and bars. And also Sofia is not to far away, which is a great city! Rado drove me to the city often to find materials for my work, which we found plenty. These were also the times I had great conversations with him about my work and art in general. These talks were very inspiring and were very meaningful to me.
All in all the combination of the quiet village, the vibrant city, the inspiring people and landscape are a perfect mix for making art. If you feel like you need some time to focus and develop your work, this is the place to go! It all ended with a nice show in Sofia, which was really the cherry on the cake!
I really had a great time with my colleague artists and especially with Teddy and Rado, who have become good friends. I can't wait to return to Bulgaria.
Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso, USA, visual artist
I just completed my one month stay wih Imago International Artist Residency in the village of Tsarimir, with a PoP-up exhibition in the city of Sofia in Bulgaria. I had a wonderful experience. Tsarimir is a small rustic village that gives you insight on the village life. I loved how peaceful it was and how it was very inspirational for working.
The studio that I worked in has a great lighting system and there is plenty of room to work in. I loved the hosts Rado and Teodora. They are very knowledgable and warm hosts, who introduce you to the Bulgarian art scene. Rado’s parents Yonka and Iliaa are so wonderful. Yonka cooked delicious meals for the residents, it was such a treat and made everything even more special. Rado and Tedy took us to the city of Plovdiv multiple times and gave us great tours of this charming town 30 minutes fromTsarimir. So happy I did this residency, I felt it was an enriching experience.