Eugenia Maximova


Eugenia Maximova (b. 1973) was born behind the Iron curtain, in the Bulgarian city of Ruse on the banks of the river Danube. She graduated from The University of Vienna, reading journalism and communication science. Maximova is a self taught artist and first became interested in photography after the sudden death of her mother, a noted Bulgarian painter.

"Looking through the viewer and pressing the camera button helped me to escape the harrowing reality of loss, to overcome the shock and lessen the burning pain. As time passed, photography became my favored means of communication; a new outlet of creative expression, for how I felt about both myself and my perception of the world around me" says Maximova.

Maximova is particularly interested in visual anthropology. Her journalistic background influences many of her projects, and although they often differ from the traditional concept of 'photojournalism', the goal of her images is to bring to light the lives of others and to communicate socio-political models and tendencies, examining their consequences for society and culture.

She is represented by the Anzenberger Agency in Vienna Austria.


Kitchen Stories from The Balkans

The people of the Balkans live in the shadow of a long history of wars, conflicts and unresolved ethnic tensions. Much of the energy that could have gone into building a future has been squandered on maintaining those tensions and the result is an impoverished present. Young families must either pay exorbitant rents or live packed like sardines in their parents apartments. And most of those apartments are in the hopelessly ugly, crumbling concrete blocks which are the legacy of the communist era.

The term Balkan whether it is describing a culture or a geographic area, usually has a strong suggestion of the rural with a heavy overlay of the Orient. In whatever context it is used, the word reverberates with cultural and sociological connotations, with a sense of division and disagreement. The kitchen is a multipurpose room, a space which reflects identity and self-perception. It embodies the spirit of the Balkan home and mirrors society as a whole. The functional, unadorned style which results from this conveys a tangible sense of the region’s lost identity, the inevitable legacy of half a millennium under the Ottoman yoke and half a century behind the Iron Curtain


Destination Eternity

In the last years of the 20th century, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all of the sudden a whole new cemetery culture emerged in its former territories. This new trend manifests itself in eccentric naturalistic engravings emerging out of black marble plaques, some enormous, others smaller in size. Motives can vary greatly from simple portraits to luscious landscapes, complex locations and bizarre collages.
The origin of this new fashion is generally unknown. The trend might have been set, as some suggest, by the post soviet mafia, which became a reference model in the early 90’s.
However, its roots can be found hidden in the past, in the strong relationship between totalitarianism and kitsch. Back in Soviet times, kitsch was the most common and only affordable form of aesthetics and decoration. Kitsch has shaped life and formed soviet mentality for many years.
Many of those graveyards are not only a form of expressing grief, in addition, they celebrate the lifestyle, social status and financial power of both those who are dead and those who are still alive.
With recent advances in technology, there are more possibilities available to those who are interested in this phenomenon. They range from a new kind of colored engravings, instead of the usual black and white, to the possibility to order real installations of all imaginable forms out of various desired materials.


Associated Nostalgia

“Kitsch and the human propensity for exaggerating have always fascinated me. Many of my childhood memories relate to kitsch. It was on open display in almost every household growing up – crystal and ceramic dinner sets, vases and figurines, hard-to-acquire foreign objects, plastic fruit and flowers. They were showcased behind glass and were the pride of the house. The scarcity of goods during communism created a culture of showing off, in which people behave ostentatiously.”
Kitsch is melodramatic, sentimental and folksy, but it also entertains. The kitsch culture of today flourishes across all areas of life. Kitsch is visual fast food- sometimes difficult to digest, but for many it is also unpretentious and tasteful.

Eugenia Maximova