Hidden geographies

Monika Bulaj

Geografie nascoste. Mostra di Monika Bulaj al Magazzino delle idee di Trieste

From 15.07  to 8.10 2023

An unprecedented visual journey through the sense of the sacred that unites people and places

The exhibition

The exhibition, curated by Monika Bulaj and organised by ERPAC, Friuli Venezia Giulia’s Regional Agency for Cultural Heritage, retraces the artist’s long journey among minorities and nomadic peoples, among faiths and religions, through more than one hundred images, in colour and black and white, a journey that has taken her along borders, to sacred and shared places, documenting the social conditions of the weakest strata of the countries she has crossed: Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Africa, the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Russia, Afghanistan, Haiti and Cuba.
Monika Bulaj’s photographs highlight the invisible, the wealth that is disappearing before everyone’s eyes, in those lands where for millennia people have shared saints, gestures, myths, songs, dances and gods. The persecuted minorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Christians of the East, the Sufi masters from the Maghreb to the Indies, the shamans of ancient Bactria, the last pagans of the Hindu Kush, the Tibetan nomads, the Gnostic sects of the Zagros mountains. Inhabitants of the last oases of encounter, enclaves besieged by armed fanaticism, lost homelands of today’s fugitives. Places where the gods often speak the same lingua franca and where, behind the monotheisms, signs, presences, gestures, dances, shared glances appear.
Testimonies captured on the road with nomads, fleeing minorities, pilgrims.

Seeking beauty even in the darkest places, solidarity and cohabitation between faiths where bombs are placed, the cracks in the theory of the so-called clash of civilisations. A work that has changed over time, where in the beginning the intent was to document small and large religions in the shadow of ancient and present conflicts to then arrive at collecting and capturing the tale of prayers and dreams, of the many memories always centred on man’s sense of the sacred.


“"The geographies I draw with this research upset the traditional mental maps on the sacred, based on election, division and exclusion, creating a small visual atlas of minorities at risk and of the 'sacred'. They are places that are kept secret and often indecipherable, where for centuries words have been handed down by word of mouth, and with them knowledge about origins, metaphors of initiations and transformations, recipes for survival”.

Monika Bulaj

At the centre of all his research is the body, keystone and bone of contention in religions.

The body initiated and blessed, unveiled and covered, feared and repressed, protected and judged, untouchable and impure, trapped in the violence that generates violence, body-reliquary, body-martyr, body-trap, body-bomb.

“I like to think of the body as a temple, a treasure chest of collective memory, that which does not lie. In the archaic nature of the gestures we read the arcane wisdom of a people, the quest for liberation through the wise use of the senses”.

Monika Bulaj

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to enter into an unprecedented story through the images that the photographer has deliberately set up in a narrative-visual weave more by similarities than by latitude and thus encounter an ancient, apparently distant world where they can instead discover a closeness and assonance on the themes presented that are so universal to humanity.

The artist

Monika Bulaj’s research began in 1985. Since 2001 she has found expression in numerous exhibitions.

Her shots and reportages on a constant journey “with people fleeing the madness of man” to quote the author, have been published in various Italian and international newspapers and magazines, including Courrier International, Gazeta Wyborcza, Geo, Corriere della Sera, Internazionale, National Geographic, New York Times, Time, La Repubblica, RevueXXI, Al Jazeera, Granta Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review.

His reportage Haiti of Spirits also represented La Repubblica in the Daily Press section for the Visa d’Or in Perpignan in 2015 and his work has been purchased by Leica Collections.

"Photography is mirror and relationship, glass from which something transpires. Everything happens in the grace of an encounter. Not in the questions that already contain the answers, but in the listening, which makes the tale indispensable'.

Monika Bulaj
Monika Bulaj ritratto

The book

On the occasion of the exhibition, a book entitled Geografie sommerse (Hidden geographies) with images and texts by the author is published by Emuse editions.

Opening hours

from Tuesday to Sunday 10.00-19.00

Monday closed

Special openings

15 August


Full-price ticket € 8,00

Reduce ticket € 5,00:
– 65 years and over
– children aged 12 to under 18
– students up to 26 years of age
– differently abled

Free of charge:
– children up to 12 years of age
– group leaders (1 per group)
– visiting teachers with pupils/students (2 per group)
– one accompanying person per disabled person
– ICOM cardholders
– journalists with a valid National Order card on duty

Groups (min 10 pax – max 25 pax):
€ 5,00 each without guide
€4,00 each with guide (plus €50,00 for the guide service)

The ticket office closes half an hour earlier


email: info@magazzinodelleidee.it
phone +39 040 3774783


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Instagram: @magazzinodelleidee


Press office

Studio Novajra Patrizia, phone 335 6688233
Daniela Sartogo, phone 342 8551242 email ufficiostampa@novajra.it

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