Tsarino Foundation organises artist-run AiR programmes in the deserted village of Tsarino, Bulgaria. These are part of a long-term research project on art in such a remote place, inviting artists to explore the context of Tsarino and its specific living and working conditions. The foundation was set up in 2009 by a collective based in Amsterdam.
Tsarino is a small village in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains near the border with Greece, which was left behind thirty years ago. Many of the houses in the village are derelict, carrying traces of previous inhabitants and their withdrawal. The foundation has seven houses in use that were refurbished to provide artists with accommodation and studio space. Without electricity and in an isolated location, the circumstances in Tsarino are very elementary. Since its abandonment, Tsarino has been a deserted place used only occasionally by people passing through while herding animals or collecting herbs. Artists are invited to adapt their practice to the conditions of Tsarino, and to use the village as an art environment.
Many of the previous inhabitants moved to Chorbadzhiysko, a village eight kilometres away. This is a mainly agricultural community, growing peppers and tobacco. Today there is one remaining inhabitant still living in Tsarino. A relationship with the local community of the area is being established partly by the organisation of events such as an exhibition in Chorbadzhiysko in 2011 and open studios in Tsarino in 2012. The first intended to display what is taking place in the village that some of the Chorbadzhiyskians once used to inhabit, but is now accomodating international artists. The latter was a presentation of various site responsive works in the houses and surrounding landscape of Tsarino, focusing on different aspects of the place, its history and present state. More information about these projects along with documentation can be found in the online archive of this website.