Pop Art House Ocenovlag Bulgaria is the decor to ‘live like a monk’. Staying here is like a pilgrimage in one place, a ‘sur-place-pilgrimage’. The adjustment of the decor to your personal needs (and adjusting your expectations to the available props) may take up to a week. The decor is abundant enough to give you plenty to do for one week, even for the busiest of pilgrims.
Bulgarian Art House has one cold outside mineral water tap, a fire stove to heat the living room and water, a saw dust toilet, an Indonesian shower, the friendliest neighbours, a shop for all your basics, a hotel/restaurant with Russian sauna nearby, and great hiking opportunities as it skirts the old European E3 long distance trail Kum - Emine
There is no rent, it is invitation only, just leave it better than you found it. You could upgrade it with art, cleaning, neighbourship, gardening and/or the use of the donation box. Apply for an invitation through firstname.lastname@example.org or 0655755014. It is simple: explain why you want to stay. We will start a conversation.
The interior is an authentic bulgarian mountain village 1950ies style house. The family of the ‘поп’ (pop, meaning priest or monk) that lived here left it in 2006 to me untouched. You eat with the попs cutlery and from his plates, you heat the living room with the fireplace he used, you sleep in his bed. There is an original wooden cross and other religious objects. You walk to the Sedemte Prestola Monastery 7 kilometers from the house, and see the priests statue in the garden.
Practical stuff – travel suggestions
Week special – connected to the weekly market on Thursday in Svoge – from Thursday to Thursday. Leaving 10.00 hours, from Sofia Centralna Gara, a train takes you to Svoge, arriving there at 10.35 hours – Svoge has a great outdoor market on Thursday mornings, spend some time there – then, from Svoge, leaving 12.30 hours, scenic bus drive (driver will be your parttime neighbour:, his name is Yuli) to the doorstep, arriving 13.45 hours – next Thursday return bus to Svoge, leaving 0800 hours from Osenovlag. On other days: take train to Eliseyna and connecting bus to Osenovlag. Yuli is your driver again.
Here is what New Zealand artist Grant Moxom wrote about the house: “Jos’s pop art house is inspiring and magical. We recommend making your own way there by public transport, it’s is a riddle. Expect nothing. Keep in your mind the idea of neighbourhood, bring groceries and as many bulgarian words as you can remember. When there, plan ahead, say hi to the neighbours. Any failure to speak the language in town will be met with the understanding that “you are friends with the Dutch guy”, high young men will help you back home if it rains while you walk, friendly neighbours will bring candles if the electricity fails. There are secrets in the house, clues to old “performances”, micro histories and memories. Visit the monastery with the candle, bathe like the old priest, cook fresh food, find the neighbour that runs the local store. Places like this are the secrets you tell your children about in years to come, stay here, make art or just participate in the art of neighbourhood, experience the bulgaria that takes years to find without a mystical refuge house in the middle of the forest in a town called Osenovlag, with no recorded bus routes, just a neighbour who picks everyone up and drops them off twice a day.”
Practical stuff – the house
You can heat up the one room on the lower floor with a fire stove. This is the living room, so to say. On the second floor you have two bedrooms, but these cannot be heated. There are lots of blankets, including two electrically heated ones, where you can lie on. When you hesitate bring more yourself. There is a little outdoor house where you can make a small sauna with hot water from the fire stove. So: there is no ‘normal’ shower, but there is a great pilgrim way to feel cleansed as you never felt before. Next to it is the saw chips toilet. It is a hole in a concrete floor, covered with sawchips: nice smell. After use, shove in the ‘contaminated chips’ and sprinkle fresh ones for a fresh cover. Did you know that a squat is actually the healthiest position? And do you know how relieved you can feel not to flush your shit with drinking water?
There is one water tap, also outside the house, under a roof. It is the best water in Bulgaria, straight from the mountains, and it is cold water.
Thus the experiences of global art loving adventurers turns solid into a customized house where the resident neighbours feel a connection to the world. Please help me build a unique house-centered social media art performance, share some snapshots! They are the digital scenes in this on- and offline play.
Curious of the changes over the years? Compare it: this movie shows you the decor, situation 2011
And here some arty backgrounds on the house. My main goal: when I am not in the house (which is almost always, so don’t expect to find me there) you can help me build a crowd art performance. When I am there, I investigate the way to be a long distance neighbor. Unique is the close interaction with the neighbors, the local school kids (that was once, the school closed as kids got fewer), and the stunning view of Kosnitza Mountain and the valley. I have put a lot of personal effort in it and I am very willing to share. So: the house and I would love to have an audience: you. You must know however it is not a luxurious residency, it is basically how the priest left it, a unique museumlike experience, a decor for your ‘sur-place-pilgrimage’.