After World War II, making photos or filming along the border was not allowed; nobody walked on no-man's-land, so nobody has memories of it. I went there, knowing that it was now or never, with the intention of being the first one ever to walk the 259 kilometers along the thin line of barbed wire and gather photographic documentary evidence of what once was the line between "us" and "the enemy." Today the border is taking on a new face, letting time swallow the torn and sacked buildings of the frontier posts and old symbols of repression. I felt the need to catch the last traces of these ghosts of the past. Soon the Bulgarian-Turkish border will mark the new outer limits of Europe, a patch of land that is destined to hold the international spotlight again.
Excerpt from her essay in the FOTOFEST2006 Catalogue
VESSELINA NIKOLAEVA No Man’s Land on the Edge of Europe
Until 1989 the Bulgarian-Turkish border symbolized the southeastern edge of the Soviet block. It was a border fiercely guarded. Nobody could freely exit or enter the country. The border represents a no man’s land on the map. Nikolaeva documents the empty shells of propaganda, frontier posts and broken fences along the border that served as the beginning or end of Europe.
Vesselina Nikolaeva is a Bulgarian-born documentary photographer, who graduated from the Art Academy in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She lives and works in Bulgaria and the Netherlands. Her work examines the socio-cultural relationships in contemporary Europe in the context of a diverse and struggling for unification continent. Her running projects, Coming of Age in an Adolescent Society and No man’s land: On the Edge of Europe, represent the metamorphosis of a historically marginalized society into a European nation-state partaking in the cultural transfer of globalization and modernization. Vesselina’s work in progress is internationally renowned, bringing her the Canon Award for 2004 in the Netherlands (for best young photographer under the 30s within the framework of “The Silver Camera 2004”), the Grand Prix of the 4th International Festival of Photography 2005 in Lodz, Poland, and the Descubrimientos prize for best young photographer at “Photoespana 2005,” Madrid, Spain.
De Melkweg, School nr. 7, Mid 2007, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, http://www.melkweg.nl
The Red House, No Man’s Land, January 2007, Sofia Bulgaria,
The Red House, School nr. 7, September 2006, Sofia, Bulgaria,