One night, in the tavern, Wang-Fô shared Ling’s table. The old man had been drinking in order to better paint a drunkard, and he cocked his head to one side as if trying to measure the distance between his hand and his bowl. The rice wine undid the tongue of the taciturn craftsman, and that night Wang spoke as if silence were a wall and words the colors with which to cover it. Thanks to him, Ling got to know the beauty of the drunkards’ faces blurred by the vapors of hot drink, the brown splendor of the roasts unevenly brushed by tongues of fire, and the exquisite blush of wine stains strewn on the tablecloths like withered petals. A gust of wind broke the window: the downpour entered the room. Wang-Fô leaned out to make Ling admire the livid zebra stripes of lightning, and Ling, spellbound, stopped being afraid of storms. Marguerite Yourcenar, “Comment Wang-Fô fut sauvé”
Monika Bulaj, teacher, writer, photographer, TED fellow, based in Italy, is exploring the shared sacred places along the borderlands of Monotheism, the nomadic tribes, the minorities, the migrants, the outcasts, the dispossessed in Eastern Europe, Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia, Africa, and Caribbean.
She published as a freelance with La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, GEO, National Geographic, The New York Times – Lens, TIME Lightbox, Courrier International, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, RevueXXI.
Born in 1966 in Warsaw, she has studied Polish Philology at the University of Warsaw, and also anthropology, philosophy, theology, dance and theater. She speaks eight languages. She has worked as an actress and theatre director as well.
Among her books: “Libya Felix” Mondadori; “Figli di Noè” Frassinelli (minorities and faiths in Azerbaijan); “Rebecca e la pioggia”, Frassinelli (the nomadic Dinka tribe in South Sudan); “Gerusalemme perduta” with Paolo Rumiz, Frasinelli 2005 (the Eastern Christians); “God’s People, a travel into another Europe”, Postcart/Frassinelli Italy and in Polish language “Boży ludzie”, Bosz Poland 2012 (20 years of researches about minorieties in East Europe and Israel). “Nur. Zapiski afgańskie/Nur. Afghan Diaries” National Geographic 2017, Poland. The book “NUR. The hidden light of Afghanistan”, Electa Mondadori Italy 2013, was selected by TIME as one of the best photographic book of 2013, recently published in a new photo-edition by National Geographic in Poland: “Nur. Afghan Notes” (“Nur. Zapiski afgańskie”). Her last book is “Where Gods Whisper”, published in September 2017, in English and Italian language with Contrasto.
Her research about religions were presented in Rome under the auspices of the Polish governement, in Cairo in the samakhana of the mevlana dervishes – under the auspices of the Italian Government; in the Aragonese Castle of Otranto during the Festival of Jewish Culture Negba-toward the South; during the Meeting on Jesus in Conciliation Auditorium of Rome and in Assisi invited by the CEI (Italian Bishops’ Conference); in Jewish Museum in Bologna and Trieste, in Theologische Akademie Bayern in Munchen, at Milan Book City Fair, in San Malo during the festival Etonnants Voyageurs: she has displayed her works in more than 90 personal exhibitions in the world.
She is a teacher of Photography and Stories/ The creative and nonfiction writing of the real, and performs in a “performing reportage” at the theatre (as screening storyteller) “Nur, Afghan Notes”, “Where Gods Cross Borders”, with video, photography, audio, video and stories; in Italian, Polish, French and English language. She is teacher of photography, street theater, and dance on stilts, for children in ghettos or at-risk communities.
She travels across Europe with her lectures: hosted by universities, art festivals, global conferences and small villages.
Monika collaborates for many radios as well, both in Poland and in Italy, and with TV, for Repubblica TV and for Rai TV Educational.
She has realized a documentary movie: “Noah’s Sons” in Azerbaijan, and has screen-written documentaries, among which the movie “Romani Rat” 2002 by M. Orlandi, on the Holocaust of the Roms, with the contribution of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, where she had also a leading role and was a storyteller.
She has been awarded prizes and fellowships for her photography and literature works such as the 2005 Grant in Visual Arts from the European Association for Jewish Culture; the Bruce Chatwin 2009 special award for Photography “Absolute Eyes”; The Aftermath Project Grant Winner 2010; Ted Fellow 2011, the Lucchetta Grant 2011; Premio Tomizza 2012, and others.
The National NonViolence Award, “awarded for the first time to a woman, was given for MB’s work which sheds lights on humanity living in the most hidden yet most evident boundaries on earth, for showing war through its consequences, for investigating mankind’s soul, our eagerness for religiosity, tenderness and dignity. MB makes the invisible visible by exploring people’s soul, by uniting humanity in an image’.”
3 th November, Nur. Afghan Diaries, exhibition, Reggia, Colorno, Italy. Gallery
10 March – 30 April, Nur. Appunti afghani/Afghan Diaries/Zapiski afgańskie, Galleria La Stanza Delle Biciclette, People BresciaPhotoFestival, Italy
28 November – 17 December 17, Nur. Afghan Notes, ANI Pixpalace Award, Paris
13 October – 12 November, Sacred Crossings, Festival The Ancestors/Dziady, The Grotowski Institute, Dolnośląskie Centrum Fotografii, Wroclaw European Capital of Culture 2016, Poland
18 November, Sacred Crossings, «la Lettura» and Fondazione Corriere della Sera, Triennale di Milano, BookCity, Italy
5 October 2016 – 8 January 2017, L’ALTRO SGUARDO/PARLANDO CON VOI, collective exhibition of the Italian women photographers, Triennale of Milan, Italy
24 September, Nur. Afghan Diaries, LuganoPhotoDays, Switzerland
13 July- 30 September, Afghan Diaries, Festival Corigliano Calabro Fotografia, Italy,
Where gods whisper, Milano BOOKCITY 2015, Frigoriferi Milanesi, via Piranesi 10, Italy, Sponsor Assicurazioni Generali, 23 – 30 October
God’s People, FIAF, Spilimbergo, Italy, August
Auras, Assisi, Italy, 20-30 November
Nur. The hidden light of Afghanistan, Paris, France, Marché des blanc manteaux, 29 Octobre – 5 Novembre Photography Fair “La quatrième image” /Images Humaines
Auras, Biblical Festival, Basilica Palladiana, Vicenza, May 31 – June 9
God’s People, Brugnera, Italy, 28 October – 10 November
Women, Galleria Ricci Oddi, Piacenza, Italy, 7 October – 4 November
The Objective Afghanistan. The Land Beyond the War, Roma, Italy, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 28 September – 30 October, with Riccardo Venturi, Zalmai and Reza
People of God, Observatory Balkans and the Caucasus, Trento, Italy, 24 September – 4 October
Nur/Light. Afghan Notes, Trieste, Italy, Il salone degli Incanti/Ex-Pescheria, 2 August – 30 September. Exhibition concept, urban art, graphic design by Aleksander Masseroli Mazurkiewicz. Photo Gallery
God’s People, Altidona Belvedere, Italy, 21 July- 30 September
Aure, Cortona, Italy, exhibition curated by Arianna Rinaldo, Festival on The Move, Chiesa di Sant’Antonio, 18 July – 30 September · Photographic Gallery
Gens du Dieu, Le voyage en Autre Europe, San Malò, France, 26-28 May, Festival Etonnants Voyageurs
Genti di Dio, Fabriano, Italia, exibition curated by Mariateresa Ceretelli and Angelo Bucarelli, Festival Poiesis, with Mimmo Iodice e Gabriele Basilico, 24 -29 May. Photo Gallery
Il senso della vita, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Roma, National Geographic Italia, exibition curated by Guglielmo Pepe, from March 9th, with: Wiliam Albert Allard, Christopher Anderson, Jonas Benediksen, James P. Blair, Alexandra Boulat, Monika Bulaj, Jodi Cobb, Penny de los Santos, Travis Dove, Carolyn Drake, Melissa Farlow, Alessandro Gandolfi, Annie Griffiths, Fritz Hoffmann, Lynn Johnson, Ed Kashi, Karen Kasmauski, Taylor Kennedy, Brian Lanker, Frans Lanting, Gerd Ludwig, Sreve McCurry, David McLain, John McNally, Matt Moyer, Vincent J.Musi, James Natchway, Michael Nichols, Randy Olson, Antonio Politano, Steve Raymer, Reza, Jim Richardson, Norbert Rosing, Joel Sartore, Stephanie Sinclair, Brian J. Skerry, James L. Stanfield, Maggie Steber, George Steinmetz, Medford Taylor, Mark Thiessen, Tomasz Tomaszewski, Ami Vitale, Michel S. Yamashita.
Through Our Lens: Photographers Reflect on Empowerment, 25 Central Park West Gallery, New York, March 5-11
CURATORS: Bess Greenberg (25CPW/Red Roots Gallery), Whitney Johnson (The New Yorker),Yukiko Yamagata (Documentary Photography Project, Open Society Foundations)
JB Reed (Nuru Project)
PHOTOGRAPHERS: Lynsey Addario, Martyn Aim, Christopher Anderson, Nina Berman, Marcus Bleasdale, Monika Bulaj, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Elinor Carucci, Renee Cox, Wendy Ewald, Donna Ferrato, Stephen Ferry, Larry Fink, Russell K. Frederick, Cédric Gerbehaye, Ashley Gilbertson, Wayne Lawrence, Deana Lawson, Alex Masi, Kirk Mastin, Ross McDonnell, Susan Meiselas, Bertrand Meunier, Bob Miller, Inge Morath, Platon, Sylvia Plachy, Alex Prager, Espen Rasmussen, Stephanie Sinclair, Lana Slezic, Maggie Steber, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Clarence Williams, Daniella Zalcman, Zoe Zimmer
An exibition & auction to benefit the Campain Us of Man Up/Stop Violence Against Women/A global initiative supporting youth to stop gender based violence
Il Fuoco della Natura, Triest, Italy, Salone degli Incanti – Ex Pescheria, 12 febbraio – 9 aprile, with Ansel Adams, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Franco Fontana, Mario Giacomelli, Nan Goldin, Sergio Scabar and others.
Aure, Auditorium Conciliazione, Sala Coro, Roma, for Conferenza Episcopale Italiana and during the seminary “Gesu nostro contemporaneo”.
February 9th: the inauguration of the exibition by Antonio Paolucci, the director of Musei Vaticani.
Nur, Roma, Italy, by Punto di Svista and Officine Fotografiche, December 16 2011 – January 12 2012 – Portfolio – sponsored by Montura
Aure, Venezia Mestre, Centro Candiani, 11 November – 23 December 2011. Photographic gallery.
Russia 2009, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Central exhibition hall “Manege”, September 2011
Nur, Venezia, Palazzo Ducale Loggia Foscara, Italy, 5 August-1 October 2011, by Comune di Venezia, Assessorato Politiche Giovanili and Centro Pace, under the patronage of Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, with the participation of Provincia di Venezia and Emergency. Sponsor Montura.Press review
Auras. When the sacred transcend borders, 5 July – 30 August, Casa di Cultura Cibernetica, Montecchio Maggiore, Vicenza, Italy, www.casadicultura.it
Stanza 16: “Religioni a Trieste”, March 8 – July 17, collective exhibition “Trieste y Magris”, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Barcelona
Auras , Isle of San Pietro, Sardegna, Occhi du Mò Photocontest, International Festival of Photography, Carloforte, 6-9 August
Aure Otranto, Festival of the Jewish Culture Negba, 7 September – 4 October, ITALY
Europa Verticale, photo and text of Monika Bulaj, designs and text of Paolo Rumiz, Palazzo Ducale, Genova, Italy, 29 May- 30 August
Il viaggio di Elia, Gorizia, Italy, Festival of the Story, 22-24 May
Il Gerundio Inverso, Rubiera, 7 May
Genti di Dio, Munchen, Katholische Akademie in Bayern, Germany
Genti di Dio, Milan, Galleria BelVedere, Italy
Genti di Dio, Monastery of Santa Maria del Lavello, Calolziocorte, Italy
Aure, Teatro Miela, Trieste, Italy
Aure, Sama Khana, Cairo, Egypt
Rebecca e la pioggia, Antichi Chiostri di Torino, Italy
Aure, Palazzo Blumenstihl, Rome, Italy
Aure, Catania, ex Monastero dei Benedettini, Italy
Genti di Dio, Palazzo Chianini Vincenzi, Arezzo, Italy
Genti di Dio, World Social Agenda, Castel Mareccio, Bolzano, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Verona, Chiesetta S. Pietro in Archivolto, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Brescia, Palazzo Martinengo, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Genova, Loggia della Mercanzia, Italy
Figli di Noè, Erba, “Immagimondo”, Italy
Genti di Dio, Venezia Mestre, Centro Candiani, Italy
Aure, Fiera di Primiero, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Bassano del Grappa, Palazzo Agostinelli, Italy
Genti di Dio, Biblioteca Classense, for the festival Meditaeuropa, Ravenna, Italy
Genti di Dio, Mantova, Italy
Genti di Dio, Genova Palazzo Ducale, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Cisterna di Latina, Pinacoteca Palazzo Caetani, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Calcinato, Biblioteca Comunale, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Villa Carcina, Villa Glisenti, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Milan, l’Hotel Bristol, Italy
Rebecca e la pioggia, Bologna, Basilica di S. Petronio, Italy
Figli di Noè, Bergamo, Porta Sant’Agostino, with the premiere of the Figli di Noè documentary by Monika Bulaj, 95’, prod.: LAB80 Film, Italia, 2006
Genti di Dio, Trento, Palazzo Geremia, Italy
Dove gli dei si parlano, Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art, Passariano-Venice, Italy
Donne, storie e progetti, Firenze, Ridotto di Palazzo Medici Riccardi/Alinari, Italy
Genti di Dio, Colonia, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Germany
Genti di Dio, Asti, Italy
Genti di Dio, Museo Civico di Reggio Emilia, Italy
Il ritorno sul Don, Strehler Theatre, Milan, Italy
Le ha ma la ya, Rom in Serbia, Rome, Italy
Genti di Dio, Pordenone, Italy
Genti di Dio, Cornaredo-Milan, Italy
Genti di Dio, Perugia, Galleria Nazionale d’Umbria, Italy
Genti di Dio, Bergamo, Teatro Sociale, Italy
Menschen Gottes, Bolzano, Fondazione Langer, nell’ambito di Euromediterranea 2004, Italy
Genti di Dio, Forli, for Europe and the Balkans International Network University of Bologna, Italy
Boze dzieci, Bulgaria, Instytut Polski, Sofia
Boze dzieci, Hungary, Instytut Polski, Budapest
Genti di Dio, Trieste, Teatro Miela, Italy
Boze dzieci, Istytut Polski, Rom, Palazzo Blumenstihl, Italy
Martinka zingara e altre storie, Torino, Identità e Differenza, Italy
Blow up. Photography in the time of uproar, WARSAW-Zakopane 2002
Objective: people’s world. 24 photographers in action, World Health Organization: Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Central America and Brasil 2003-2004
The photographers of the National Geographic, Tuscany Photographic Workshop, 2008
Confini/Frontiere/Boundaries/Frontiers, Pordenone 2008, Italy, with photographers: R. Kapuscinski, B. Plossu, P.P. Cito.