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He breaks he cuts he spills

Nikola Mihov


Book Signing with the artist at the bookshop on Nov. 25. as part of Un Week-end à l'Est Festival

Publication date : 2021/04/01
Weight 340 g / Dimensions 17 x 21 cm / 112 pages / In English and Bulgarian

He Breaks, He cuts, He spills is a compilation of press photos depicting Todor Zhivkov, Communist leader of Bulgaria from 1954 to 1989. He is seen performing the traditional gestures of Bulgarian hospitality during welcoming and inaugurations ceremonies: breaking bread, cutting ribbons, pouring water in the form of baptism. While ribbon cutting is widely used around the world, the other two customs – welcoming official guests with bread, honey and salt and spilling water on the ground as a sign of good luck, are typical Bulgarian cultural practices.

The images, taken between 1968 and 1988, are from the archives of BTA, the official press agency of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. They are sequenced in the book into the three themes in no chronological order, and taken out of the propaganda context for which they were originally created.

This accumulation, where we see the leader flanked by officials and first-rank foreign heads of state (Honecker, Gaddafi, Gorbachev, Indira Gandhi, Ceausescu), is punctuated by quotes from Boiko Borissov, at the time his bodyguard, who will himself also become Prime Minister on numerous occasions since 2009, until the spring of 2021. We find a form of continuity between the images of the time of communism and the words of today …

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