Victoria Zhelyazkova—the girl who fell in love with the soil

Victoria Zhelyazkova is one of the four nominees in the competition for the National Prize in support of young talent in contemporary arts and science, organised for the second time by NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’.


The young lady is an interdisciplinary researcher and photographer. She was born in Varna, lives in Brno, and has studied at Masaryk University in Czechia. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Culture from Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Sociology of Culture.


She answered several questions for the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund website.


You are involved in diverse activities and have an extremely varied education; is it your heart or your mind that guides you when choosing your next challenge?

An interesting question. To be honest, I know from experience that, when I am put in situations of having to make a choice, I sometimes seem to be in a moving stream, navigating among various external factors, and somehow my heart and mind remain in the background. A while ago, in a movement improvisation practice, Jo-Ann had suggested that we move through space guided by a part of our body. So, listening, for example, to your left shoulder blade, you pass through here and there, and you find yourself somewhere. I want to say that I rather indulge in my intuition to guide me, without associating it specifically with any of the areas mentioned.


Tell us a little more about your goal to spread the idea of increasing the level of care and responsibility that we devote to the environment that we inhabit, as well as to ourselves?

This is one of the ideas I am working on at the moment. I think that the projects we engage in express to a certain extent a part of our own selves. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a sense of connection with the earth and the soil. Just before the first lockdowns, this feeling reminded me of myself, and I began to make more intensive and purposeful contact with it. Then I realised that the values of our time have shifted and are focused on activities and areas far from the gamut of the soil; how we depend on units of producers to make a living, and how confused the whole world is, partly for such reasons, because we have transferred the responsibility of being autonomous to someone else’s shoulders. At the same time, through contact with the soil, we could find an opportunity for physical as well as spiritual balance, while simultaneously becoming involved in a process that helps renew the culture of caring for the natural environment.


Consumer society sometimes imposes standards that waste natural resources; what are your ideas for change?

Let’s dig a small pond out there somewhere and welcome the water.

If you win the National Prize in support of young talent in contemporary arts and science, what would be your message for future candidates?

Perhaps something like: the boat may or may not be there, but let these not be the only possibilities to experience in crossing the river.


Victoria Zhelyazkova’s video can be viewed here:

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