"Fresco-Hunting" Photo Research Expedition to Medieval Balkan Churches, Bulgaria and Serbia 2018 (Balkan Heritage)


Location: Sofia & Tran, Bulgaria

Season: 
May 12, 2018 to May 26, 2018

Session dates: 
12 May - 26 May, 2018

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Deadline Type: 
Exact date

Flyer: PDF icon bhfs_2018.pdf

Discount for AIA members: 
5% discount off the regular admission fee

Program Type

Field school
Volunteer

RPA certified

no

Affiliation:

Balkan Heritage Foundation (BHF); New Bulgarian University and Sofia Photography School (Bulgaria)

Project Director:

Ivan Vasilev (PhD candidate in Archaeology), president of the Balkan Heritage Foundation; adjunct professor at NBU and Dr. Vassil Tenekedjiev (PhD in Archaeology), Varna Regional Museum of History.

Project Description

THE EXPEDITION: The "Fresco-Hunting" Photo Research Expedition to Medieval Balkan Churches provides a unique opportunity for students and volunteers to take part in an expedition for the documentation of abandoned medieval churches/chapels and their frescos in western Bulgaria, and to visit many other Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries, museums and archaeological sites in Sofia, western Bulgaria and eastern Serbia. The number of these monuments has sadly been permanently decreasing due to the lack of effort to preserve and protect them from weather damage and vandalism. During the last ten years, specialists from Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia, USA, Canada and Japan as well as students from all over the world participating in the “Fresco-Hunting” Photo Expedition have expanded and upgraded the existing database of drawn and photographic records of twelve churches and chapels in western Bulgaria. We aim to publish a complete corpus of these medieval frescos and to develop further projects to support and record the remaining endangered sites through conservation, restoration, development and/or improvement of each site's management, and fund-raising. Our work so far has been successful in raising public awareness, and some of the sites we documented have been protected (Balsha, Kalotina, Zimevitsa). In 2017, the Balkan Heritage Foundation issued the first e-book dedicated to one of the churches documented by the Expedition, the 17th century church St. Thedore Tyro in Zimevitsa. The work on a publication of two more churches (Balsha and Golesh) is now in progress. Unfortunately, many more remain in desperate condition, awaiting either better times or continued deterioration.

   

THE FIELD SCHOOL In 2018, the project envisions to supplement the database created during the previous seasons by documenting the architecture and frescos (and their condition) of four to six medieval Christian Orthodox chapels or small churches in western Bulgarian borderlands near Tran and collect new data on their history, artifacts and environment. The region in focus is geographically and culturally very close to present-day eastern Serbia, where a photography excursion to several medieval ecclesiastic monuments will also take place. The students will be able to identify parallels and make comparisons between the churches and their murals across the border in Serbia and those that they will be working to document in Bulgaria.   

      

There is only one two-week project session available for participants. It is suitable for students, young specialists, artists and people with interests in medieval, esp. Byzantine or Christian Orthodox architecture and arts as well as digital photography, documentation of heritage monuments and travel. The program includes a special presentation on advanced photographic techniques for 3D documentation: Photogrammetry and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI).

Period(s) of Occupation: Late Medieval Period (fourteenth to seventeenth century): Late Byzantine, Post-Byzantine, Early Ottoman.

Notes: 
The project is a unique opportunity for everyone to take part in an expedition for documentation of abandoned medieval churches/chapels and their frescoes in Western Bulgaria, to enhance his/her photography skills, to gain knowledge about Orthodox Christianity and Byzantine and Medieval Balkan civilization as well as methods for documentation of architectural monuments and frescos; to visit many historic sites and museums in Bulgaria and Serbia; and to attend an introductory lecture on Photogrammetry and Reflectance Transformation Imaging. Academic credits are available for students through NBU, Bulgaria.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full session (Two weeks)

Minimum age: 
18

Experience required: 
All candidates are expected to have some familiarity with the basic principles of photography and digital SLR cameras. For those who don’t, the BHFS could offer the opportunity to take part in a special, brief but comprehensive online course about Digital Photography Basics by Sofia Photography School prior to their arrival in Bulgaria.

Room and Board Arrangements

Accommodation: For first four days of the field school, participants will stay in rooms with shared bathrooms at the historic Red B and B Guesthouse, Sofia. Then the project team and students will move to the small town of Tran in western Bulgarian borderland area. They will stay there for the remander of the field school in comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC, TV, wi-fi) in the Erma Spa Hotel, which also provides free access to the SPA center. All participants will be given a free ride back to Sofia Downtown and airport on 26 May. The departure is scheduled for 9:00 am. The trip will take approx. 90 to 120 min.

Meals: Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. Meals usually take place in the hotel restaurant, except the brown-bag lunches (when on site and during the excursions). Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Participants will have to pay extra for additional days in the project hotels, for single room accommodation, as well as for any meals and beverages, services or products outside the project package. Single rooms are available upon request for the duration of the field school for an additional fee of 350 EUR.     

Cost: 
The admission fee is 1286 EUR (approx.1529 USD) by 31 January 2018 and 1429 EUR (approx.1699 USD) after 31 January 2018. The Admission fee includes: educational and fieldwork activities, full-board accommodation (hotel + 3 meals per day), tools, materials, project e-handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance, excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees and administrative costs.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
New Bulgarian University
Number of credits offered 6 (ECTS) credits
Tuition: 
282 EUR for students in EU and 345 EUR for students outside EU for six credit hours. Participants who are not interested in academic credits don't need to pay the additional tuition fee.

Location

Contact Information
Balkan Heritage Foundation
7 Tulovo St., Floor 5, Apt.7
Sofia
Bulgaria
1504
Telephone: 
+ 359 877 725 052
Recommended Bibliography: 

Chavrukov, G. Bulgarian monasteries. Septemvri Publishing House, Sofia. 1978

Cormack, Robin. Byzantine Art (Oxford History of Art). Oxford University Press. 2000

Filov, BEarly Bulgarian Art. Paul Haupt. 1919

Crampton, R. J. AConcise History of Bulgaria (Cambridge Concise Histories) - Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (2006)

Gabov, Alexander and George Bevan. Recording the Weathering of Outdoor Stone Monuments UsingReflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI): The Case of the Guild of All Arts (Scarborough, Ontario).Journal of the Canadian Association for Conservation (J. CAC), Volume 36, 2011

Huntington, John C. Photography for Art Historical Field Research and Documentation –

http://huntingtonarchive.osu.edu/resources/downloads/DigitalPhotography.pdf

Mango, Cyril. History of World Architecture: Byzantine Architecture. Rizzoli International Publishing, New York. 1978

Mora. P., Laura Mora. Conservation of Wall Paintings (Butterworth - Heinemann Series in Conservation and Museology). Butterworth-Heinemann. 1984

Raykovska, M., G. Bevan and I. Vasilev. The Integration of Different Computational Photographic Modalities in High-Accuracy 3D Building Models: The Case of the Church of St. Petka, Bulgaria – In: Virtual Archaeology (Methods and Benefits) Proceedings of the Second International Conference held at the State Hermitage Museum 1-3 June, 2015, Saint Petersburg, The State Hermitage Publishers, 2015; pp. 139-157

Safran, L (Editor).  Heaven on Earth: Art and the Church in Byzantium. Pennsylvania State University Press. 1998

Tragido, Alfredo. Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Guide to Imagery Series). 2006

Warda Jeffrey (Editor). The AIC Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation, AIC 2011