On October 6, 2018, 30-year old television journalist Victoria Marinova was brutally raped and murdered in the Bulgarian city of Ruse. In broad daylight, the young woman went for a run by the Danube from which she never returned.

 

The case caused an outcry in international media since Marinova was one of the few journalists who dared to speak up against the largescale corruption taking place in her country. Her violent death cast a stark spotlight not only on the widespread bribery but also on violence against women and the unsafe working conditions for journalists. The debate, however, silenced abruptly after only 48 hours, when Severin K., a 21-year old man of Romani descent, was arrested as the perpetrator. Bulgarian officials were quick to announce that the deed had not been politically motivated but was merely a tragic coincidence.

 

Applying an artistic as well as documentary approach, Vienna-based photographer Eugenia Maximova challenges this convenient silence. Marinova’s death may not have been politically motivated – in the wider sense it certainly is. In her ongoing photo project Silent River, Maximova addresses this larger socio-political context. In addition, she looks at the emotional repercussions because Maximova is also personally affected: the murdered journalist had been her sister-in-law and friend. Silent River thus seeks to raise questions as much as it documents a personal journey of grief and loss, of anger and despair. It positions itself explicitly against how mainstream media depict violence. Instead, Maximova captures elegiac views of the city of Ruse, empty spaces, many of which in a desolate state yet not without beauty. The project seeks to map out a subjective topography of the murder in that it follows not one but two trajectories: that of Victoria Marinova and that of her alleged murderer Severin K. as they both move through the post-Communist cityscape until their paths cross on the banks of the Danube. In doing so, a third trajectory emerges: that of the artist herself.

© 2020 by Eugenia Maximova. All rights reserved. No use of images without permission.

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