Some days ago I arrived in Gorna Lipnitsa, a small, sleepy village in Central Bulgaria, a place far off the beaten track. It is beautiful, full of small houses built from stone and lush gardens hiding behind stone walls. The streets are lined by mirabelle and apple trees. Stork nests on the chimneys, geese wandering around and wooden carts pulled by horses crossing the street evoke the feeling of living in an old fashioned children's book, an atmosphere interrupted only by the many obituary notices pinned on every house door and wall. At night there is nothing but the sound of the soft wind rustling through the trees. It is so quiet that you can hear the apples falling from the trees.
In Gorna Lipnitsa, there is an old abandoned school which once a year, during summer, is turned into an artist residency. Artists from all over the world come to the village and work together with Bulgarian artists in a very special atmosphere. This year I am one of them.The theme for our work are the star rituals of the Thracians, an ancient culture that populated Bulgaria in the second century BC, before the arrival of the Greek. Their god was Zalmoxis, who is believed to have been the student of Pythagoras. They worshipped Orpheus and believed in eternal life.They also believed that they were children of the Universe and positioned their mounds according to the constellations.
They left the hills around Gorna Lipnitsa full of mounds, the earth full of archeological treasures and the air full of myths.
Besides the Thracians, there is a second source of inspiration: the old school building itself, which has been out of use for around a decade. It is a big single storey building with green painted walls, standing in a park with giant linden trees, and it seems as if the school has been frozen in time since communist era.
There are pictures of Marx and Lenin still hanging in the corridors, and the furniture is so vintage it could seem contemporary in another context.