Vera Hadzhiyska

With the Name of a Flower

“With the Name of a Flower” is a multi-disciplinary project which investigates the forced name changes of the Muslim population in Bulgaria (from Arabic names to state-approved Slavic ones) in the period 1912 – 1989. These events are considered from a family and personal viewpoint, examining the memories of people directly affected by the change of names, and their descendants.

Name changing goes deeper than giving up one’s birth name. In a society where being Muslim conflicted with the State’s distorted idea of Bulgarian national identity, having a Muslim name had become undesirable. For many Bulgarian Muslims the change of name came hand in hand with repressing their religious identity. This led to a subsequent generation, whose heritage was robbed by social and political intervention in the family narrative. I am interested in the effects these historical events continue to have on the cultural, religious and national identity of the Muslim communities in Bulgaria and their collective memory.

About the Artist

Artist Website

Vera Hadzhiyska is a Bulgarian multi-disciplinary artist and curator based in England. She has a Master’s degree in Photography from the University of Portsmouth. Her practice is informed by the study of migration, cultural and national identity, history and collective memory. Her work begins autobiographically, tracing family narratives and shared traumas. Through photography, archival documents, audio and video installations Vera examines historical and political events in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe, their impact on people’s lives and identity.

She has exhibited internationally across the United Kingdom, France, Bulgaria and Greece. Her work was selected for Aspex Emergency exhibition which will take place in 2021. Recent exhibitions include Fabrica In Between Gallery, Brighton, UK (2021); Circulation(s) Festival, Paris, FR (2020); Four Corners Gallery, London, UK (2019); Night/Plovdiv Festival, Plovdiv, BG (2019);

Her work has been featured in Musee Magazine, Source Magazine, Calvert Journal, Loupe Magazine, Photograd, Then There Was Us, among others.

Since September 2018 Vera has been leading a Peer to Peer Feedback group providing a space where artists can share their work in progress, ideas and struggles with ongoing projects and receive honest feedback, help and support from fellow practitioners.