If you’ve been in Sofia over the last few days, you may have noticed an extra splash of colour and a few more female faces. On 22 March a number of brightly-coloured busts were erected around the Bulgarian capital, drawing attention to the city’s chronic lack of monuments celebrating women.
The Monument #1 artistic intervention forms part of Monumental Women, a project that aims to shift perceptions of what should or should not be commemorated through public monuments, in turn raising questions about how the cityscape represents women. The temporary installation sees Bulgarian artist Irina Tomova-Erka team up with Fine Acts and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee to create busts, based on the artist’s own self-portrait, accompanied by a plaque reading “The first monument of a woman in Sofia”.
“The key point of the intervention is to reclaim public space,” the artist told UK magazine Metro. “Public space, much like history, belongs to women too — this is why we want to assert our rightful place. In Bulgaria’s past there are many incredible, inspiring women, but their accomplishments are erased from public memory.”
Monument #1 has reportedly received mixed responses — while some passersby expressed shock that there are no monuments to women in Sofia, others argued that monuments immortalising national achievements should take priority.