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God is not Bulgarian, but Christo is!

БНР Новини

The memorable phrase “God is Bulgarian” takes us back to 1993-1994, when following fantastic qualifications and phenomenal play at the finals, the Bulgarian national football side snatched the bronze in the USA-held World Cup. Back then there was a Christo - Stoichkov - a striker who rose to a world celebrity status.

A few years later while presenting his project in Florence, Italy, Christo Javacheff (a.k.a. Christo) received from a Bulgarian student some verses devoted to the artist by great poetess Blaga Dimitrova. He read them with agitation. Here is the finale of the poem:

You, the one who can wrap anything

Land, wind and sea

Clouds and snowcapped peaks

Come wrap the fear of my motherland!

„The installation of the Bulgarian artist expresses the courage and genius of a country we know little about, and what we know are bywords.” In this way legendary journalist Antonio Ferrari presented on the front page of Italy's leading newspaper Corriere della sera the amazing installation of Christo Floating Piers on Lake Iseo. „Thank you, Christo, because walking on water is not only an impressive biblical scene but also redemption of the the disgrace of deep-rooted prejudice", Ferrari writes. The journalist recalls how during the Cold War a few phrases were imposed in Italy, such as “Bulgarian-styled elections”, meaning elections won with 99,9%, or „Bulgarian obedience“, a synonym of „voiceless compliance“. „The story surrounding the attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II carried out by Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca is equally disgraceful”, Antonio Ferrari goes on to say. “The Bulgarians were accused of having organized this crime only because Agca had passed through Bulgaria. It later turned out that the whole job had been a colossal fraud servicing the appeal of Ronald Reagan for a campaign against the Evil Empire. However, attacking a whole nation while trying to topple a regime - this is horrible! I have been to Bulgaria a dozen times and I can assure you that Bulgarians have both genius and courage - just like Christo”, Antonio Ferrari adds.


Time magazine carries a photo with the caption, Floating Piers, an Installation of Bulgarian Artist Christo in Iseo, and here is part of the text: “Conceptual artist Christo is giving visitors to Italy's Lake Iseo a chance to walk on water, creating a vibrant orange floating walkway that connects two islands in the lake to the mainland. Christo described the surrounding environment as part of the project. “With the sun, the rain, the wind, it's part of the physicality of the project, you have to live it,” he said.

Euronews came up with the following headline: Walking on water: Bulgarian artist Christo realises his dream. The BBC quotes the author that “the experience will be like walking on water - or on the back of a whale.“

Bulgarian artist Christo unveils his installation Floating Piers, reports Le Monde on its art pages on June 19, however making a mistake in the artist's father's name. The headline of the report is The ephemera pontoon by Christo attracts crowds to Lake Iseo.


At the same time Spanish АВС writes about the Miracle of Christ making a pun (just like in Italy) with the name of the celebrated Bulgarian and claiming that the miracle actually has surpassed all expectations. “Many people were waiting all night for the opening of the walkways created by Christo Javacheff, a famous American artist of Bulgarian descent”, it writes and remarks that they are devoted to Jeanne-Claude. The artist is quoted as saying: „Our works with Jeanne-Claude are not aimed at eternity. They are short-lived - like the life of a flower, like youth.” The Spanish news agency EFE has also pointed to the Bulgarian blood of Christo enumerating his earlier works in Italy - the wrapped medieval castle in Spoleto, of the Aurelius Wall in Rome and of the Milan-based monuments of Victor-Emmanuel and Leonardo (Christo is among many who think that the landscape behind La Gioconda is from Iseo).

On the day of the opening the New York Times devoted its cultural rubric to the event: “It's actually very painterly, like an abstract painting, but it will change all the time,” Christo, 81, a Bulgarian-born American, said of his project. "The Floating Piers is his first outdoor installation since 2005, when he and Jeanne-Claude, his collaborator and wife, installed 7,500 saffron-paneled gates in Central Park in New York City. Like his other environmental artworks, which try to reframe familiar landscapes, the 15 million euro project (or $16.8 million), will be funded through the sale of his original drawings and collages.”


The British The Telegraph accentuates the Bulgarian input in the project: „/…/ some of the workmen's instructions are written in Cyrillic. Christo explains that his crew is Bulgarian. Under the Soviets, he says, there was a dedicated sports academy in Bulgaria. “After the fall of communism, they kept that academy. The chief of construction said: 'I need people who work seven days a week, who don't drink or smoke'. And he hired students from the sports academy! They are all runners, weightlifters… If you see them, they do not walk, they run.“.

Bulgaria's neighbors have also reported about the event. The Turkish Milliyet wrote: „The celebrated Bulgarian artist Christo Javacheff presented in Italy his latest project Floating Piers. Thousands of visitors walked over the floating walkways.“


In Bulgaria media there was an interesting photo gallery and a video contributed to the website Dnevnik by Kalin Ivanov who has been working on a third documentary about Christo. There was a live report of journalist Evgenia Atanasova, a stringer of the new TV channel BiT. At the end, here is a fragment from the black humor demonstrated by Emil Koshlukov and carried by 24 Hours under the headline Christo to Come Back to Bulgaria for His Project. It is a collection of all negative commentaries. Things have not changed much compared to the 1997 article on Christo in the same newspaper. Student Krasimir Ivanov is quoted as having written the following: „After he finished reading, Christo smiled a sad smile, turned around and left in silence.”

Editor: Lyudmil Fotev

English Daniela Konstantinova


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