Biography

www.monikabulaj.com

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_2015.1Monika 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’.”

 

 

EXHIBITIONS

2018 -2017

Nur. Afghan Diaries, 19th  May – 17  June 2018, Polveriera Castelfidardo, Anconafotofestival, Italy

Where Gods Whisper/Sacred Crossings, exhibition, Maison de la Culture d’Amiens, 8 th November 2017 – 3th Jannuary 2018, Centre européen de création et de production, France, Gallery

Nur. Afghan Diaries,  3 th – 30 th November 2017, Reggia, Colorno, Italy. Gallery

Nur. Afghan Diaries, Galleria La Stanza Delle Biciclette, 10 March – 30 April 2017,People BresciaPhotoFestival, Italy

 

2016

Nur. Afghan Diaries,  VISAS de l’ANI 2016, ANI Pixpalace Award, 28 November – 17 December 17, Paris, France

Sacred Crossings, Festival  The Ancestors/Dziady,  13 October – 12 November, The Grotowski Institute, Dolnośląskie Centrum Fotografii, Wroclaw European Capital of Culture 2016, Poland

Sacred Crossings,  «La Lettura» and Fondazione Corriere della Sera, 18 November, Triennale di Milano, BookCity, Italy

L’altro sguardo/ Parlando con voi / Italian women photographers,  5 October 2016 – 8 January 2017, Triennale of Milan, Italy

Nur. Afghan Diaries, , 24 September, LuganoPhotoDays, Switzerland

Nur, Afghan Diaries, 13 July- 30 September, Festival Corigliano Calabro Fotografia, Italy,

 

2015

Where Gods Whisper (Dove gli dei si parlano), Frigoriferi Milanesi, Sponsor Assicurazioni Generali, 23  – 30 October, Milano Bookcity, Italy

 

2014

God’s People, FIAF, Spilimbergo, Italy

 

2013

Auras, 20-30 November, Assisi, Italy,

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, May 31 – June 9, Basilica Palladiana, Vicenza, Italy

 

2012

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, sponsor Montura

God’s People, Altidona Belvedere, Italy

Auras, Festival on The Move, Chiesa di Sant’Antonio, Cortona, Italy

Gens du Dieu, Le voyage en Autre Europe, Festival Etonnants Voyageurs, San Malò, France

God’s People, with Mimmo Iodice e Gabriele Basilico, exibition curated by Mariateresa Ceretelli and Angelo Bucarelli, Festival Poiesis, 24 -29 May, Fabriano, Italy

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

Il Fuoco della Natura, Salone degli Incanti –  Ex Pescheria, 12 febbraio – 9 aprile, with Ansel Adams, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Franco Fontana, Mario Giacomelli, Nan Goldin, Triest, Italy

Auras, Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, “Gesu nostro contemporaneo”, February 9th: the inauguration of the exibition by Antonio Paolucci, the director of Musei Vaticani, Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome, Italy

 

2011

Nur, Afghan Diaries, Officine Fotografiche, December 16 2011 – January 12 th, sponsor Montura, Rome, Italy,

Auras, Centro Candiani, 11 November – 23 December, Venice, Italy

Russia 2009,  Central exhibition hall “Manege”, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Nur, Afghan Diaries, 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, Venezia, Palazzo Ducale Loggia Foscara, Italy .Press review, 

Auras. Where the Sacred Transcend Borders, 5 July – 30 August, Casa di Cultura Cibernetica, Montecchio Maggiore, Vicenza, Italy

Religiones en Trieste / Trieste y Magris, March 8 – July 17, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Barcelona, Spain

 

2010

Auras , Isle of San Pietro, Sardegna, Occhi du Mò Photocontest, International Festival of Photography, Carloforte, Italy

 

2009

Auras, Festival of the Jewish Culture Negba, 7 September – 4 October, Otranto, Italy

Vertical Europe, photo and text of Monika Bulaj, designs and text of Paolo Rumiz, 29 May- 30 August, Palazzo Ducale, Genova, Italy

Elijah’s travel, Festival of the Story, 22-24 May, Gorizia, Italy

Il Gerundio Inverso, Rubiera, Italy

Elijah’s travel, Jewish Museum, Trieste, Italy

God’s People, Katholische Akademie in Bayern, Munchen, Germany

 

2008

God’s People,  Galleria BelVedere, Milan, Italy

God’s People, Monastery of Santa Maria del Lavello, Calolziocorte, Italy

Auras, Teatro Miela, Trieste, Italy
Video

Auras, Sama Khana, Italian Government, Cairo, Egypt

Rebecca and the rain, Antichi Chiostri di Torino, Italy

Auras, Polish Cultural Institute, Palazzo Blumenstihl, Rome, Italy

Auras, ex Monastero dei Benedettini, Catania, Italy

The photographers of the National Geographic, Tuscany Photographic Workshop, Italy

Confini/Frontiere/Boundaries/Frontiers, with Ryszard Kapuscinski, Pordenone, Italy

 

2007

God’s People, Palazzo Chianini Vincenzi, Arezzo, Italy

God’s People, World Social Agenda, Castel Mareccio, Bolzano, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Chiesetta S. Pietro in Archivolto, Verona, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Palazzo Martinengo, Brescia, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Loggia della Mercanzia, Genova, Italy

Noah’s sons, “Immagimondo”, Erba, Italy

God’s Poeple, Centro Candiani,Venezia Mestre, Italy

Auras, Fiera di Primiero, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Palazzo Agostinelli, Bassano del Grappa, Italy

God’s People, Biblioteca Classense, for the festival Meditaeuropa, Ravenna, Italy

God’s People, Mantova, Italy

God’s People, Palazzo Ducale, Genova, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Cisterna di Latina, Pinacoteca Palazzo Caetani, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Calcinato, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Villa Carcina, Villa Glisenti, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Hotel Bristol, Milan, Italy

Rebecca and the rain, Basilica di S. Petronio, Bologna, Italy

 

2006

Noah’s sons, Bergamo, Porta Sant’Agostino, with the premiere of the Figli di Noè documentary by Monika Bulaj, 95’, prod.: LAB80 Film, Italia, 2006

God’s People, Palazzo Geremia, Trento, Italy

 

2005

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

Menschen Gottes, Koln, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Germany

God’s People, Asti, Italy

God’s People, Museo Civico, Reggio Emilia, Italy

Il ritorno sul Don, with Marco Paolini, Strehler Theatre, Milan, Italy

Le ha ma la ya, Rom in Serbia, Rome, Italy

God’s People, Pordenone, Italy

God’s People, Cornaredo-Milan, Italy

2004

God’s People, Galleria Nazionale d’Umbria, Perugia, Italy

God’s People, Teatro Sociale, Bergamo, Italy

Menschen Gottes, Fondazione Langer, Euromediterranea, Bolzano, Italy

God’s People, Forli, Europe and the Balkans International Network University of Bologna, Italy

God’s People, Polish Cultural Institute, Sofia, Bulgary

 

2003

Boze dzieci, Polish Cultural Institute, Budapest, Hungary

God’s People, Teatro Miela, Triest, Italy

Objective: people’s world. 24 photographers in action, World Health Organization: Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Central America and Brasil

 

2002

God’s People, Polish  Cultural Institute, Palazzo Blumenstihl, Rome, Italy

Blow up. Photography in the time of uproar, Warsaw-Zakopane, Poland

Martinka the Gypsy and others stories,  Festival Identity and Difference, Turin, Italy