'For Us'

River Struma at Novi Chiflik; Kyustendil town centre

2021

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'For Us', Kyustendil town centre, 12 June 2021
Photo: Anatoli Kostov

The river Struma was a victim of pollution after heavy rain raised the water level in February 2021 and brought tons of rubbish downstream. No one knows where the trash came from, but locals speculate there were many illegal landfills close to the river. 

As an act of eco-activism, Boyana Aleksova collaborated with locals from diverse backgrounds to clean a part of the river Struma in the village Novi Chiflik, Kyustendil, Bulgaria. The group gathered trash off the trees, the floor and from within the river and collected it in black bags. Some of the most interesting finds were a suitcase, plastic crates, plastic chairs, car tyres, and a decomposing chicken.

Around 40 people participated in the art making of all ages (4-60 years old) who gathered 150 bags of trash while having fun and building relationships.


The group gathered all the trash in bin bags which were collected by a lorry with the permission and full support of the mayor of Kyustendil - Petar Paunov. The lorry drove back to the town centre of Kyustendil where it parked in the middle of the town square as an act of protest to show the town folk their own waste.After the lorry was parked in the town square, some of the art makers created a circle around the lorry while holding hands. This was an act of togetherness to demonstrate the need of collective work towards a more survivable future.

The installation of the lorry in the town square was not the art in itself. The relationships, networks and collective way of thinking built during the process of the clean up and installation were the art that was created.

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'For Us', Kyustendil town centre, 12 June 2021
Photo: Boyana Aleksova

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Polluted Stuma: Vaklin playing with rubbish, 3 June 2021
Photo: Boyana Aleksova

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A volunteer being cheerful after collecting a plastic chair from the river, river Struma at Novi Chiflik,
12 June 2021
Photo: Anatoli Kostov

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Everyone holding hands, Kyustendil town square,
12 June 2021
Photo: Anatoli Kostov

Genata loading bin bags onto Milen's trailor, river Struma at Novi Chiflik, 12 June 2021
Photo: Anatoli Kostov

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Genata and Boyana building 'For Us', Kyustendil town centre, 12 June 2021
Photo: Anatoli Kostov

Volunteers heading to the river, Novi Chiflik
12 June 2021
Photo: Anatoli Kostov