The artworks in the exhibition show trans women in traditional Bulgarian dress and wreathed in Bulgarian flowers as a statement of national identity. The photographs are amplified with an innovative technique, using multiple layers of photographs on thin sheets of plexiglass then animating the pieces with customised LED light designs, changing in time with electronic music.
The show has stirred outrage in Bulgaria’s national media ever since it was announced. National identity is hard to blend with LGBTQ+ rights in Bulgaria. It is one of the most conservative European countries when it comes to LGBTQ rights next to Poland and Hungary. Nationalists and part of society don’t want trans women to wear traditional dress, and touch symbolic Bulgarian roses. The controversy increased when news broke that the project had received state funding. Commentators demanded the Minister of Culture’s resignation, and on 15 February some of the staff on the commission that awarded the exhibition the grant were asked to resign. Half of the members did.
The exhibition provoked huge controversies. The opening was marred by planned protests from nationalist groups. Activists from the Bulgarian group Feminist Mobilizations staged a counter-protest, standing against “fascism” and for support of “The Other Bulgarian Women”. The situation grabs the attention of the international press showing how big is the problem with trans minorities in this part of the world.
After the show in Sofia, the exhibition was invited by “What You See Festival” so “The Other Bulgarian Women” was presented in Utrecht, Netherlands. “The Other Bulgarian Women” was nominated for the “Artistic Achievement of the Year” by Emerging Europe Awards 2023. Mísho was nominated for the “Human of the Year” Award for 2022, which is the annual Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Award recognising contributions to human rights.
The exhibition includes a 39-minute documentary titled ‘Bulgaria in Trance,’ aiming to provide an unbiased portrait of the transgender community in the country by sharing the personal stories of the transgender girls who participated in ‘The Other Bulgarian Women’ exhibition.