The Joy of Freedom is a curated conversation about where true freedom is found. Vassilev’s work is a portrait of a time and place where freedom was taken by a larger system, on the grounds that it would foster prosperity. The Bulgarian artist saw his home country progress from socialism into communism. Vassilev endured one year in a work camp following an escape attempt. Despite the hardship of living under a totalitarian system, the artist sought to capture humanity and freedom within his community. These images were formerly contraband and kept hidden until 1989. They portray humanity, day to day family life that preserved the community. The Utopian top-down model of communism brought suffering and pain because of its unattainability. Instead, people found joy in their personal utopias – family and friendship – during this time.
After the fall of communism in 1989, Vassilev left Bulgaria and traveled throughout Europe and the United States of America. Captured by the diversity and freedom of the U.S.A., he now calls the country home. In his photographs Vassilev portrays the humanity and joy that he finds in a variety of settings. In his artist’s statement he calls these qualities “indispensable rights of life.” The artist has been featured in galleries and art publications around the world. His work is held in exclusive collections in museums and research centers in the U.S.A. and Europe.
Placing our joy in the hands of a system poses great danger. As it is portrayed in Vassilev’s images, we can create our individual utopias in our own lives, in our relationships, and in our spirits.
Front Window Installation: CAGED
Artist: Doni Silver Simons
Dedicated to those who have been unjustly confined.