Who was Sava Popov? The Unlocking of an Archive
Who was Sava Popov? The Unlocking of an Archive


Who was Sava Popov? The Unlocking of an Archive

Who Was Sava Popov?

The unlocking of an archive

9.12.2022 – 30.04.2023

Who Was Sava Popov?

Sava Popov (1914–1981) was a writer, a journalist, the creator and editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper Starshel (Hornet) from 1940–1941. He was the author of the books The Devil in the Cellar, Grandfather God Walking the Earth, and Simple Tales, but his most famous work was Clever Peter. His work in the press and publishing houses introduced him to some of the most important figures of his time in the fields of literature and art – writers, artists, publishers. His life passed through cataclysms – a world war, a total change of the social order in Bulgaria, personal losses, and unfulfilled dreams.

The Archive

Working with the archive of a personality always carries risks. Who was this person, what did he do, to what degree did he consciously manage his memories and the traces he left behind him? This is the way it was with the archive of Sava Popov as well. In the beginning, we had no idea what was concealed in the sealed and labeled packages delivered by his family for the exhibition. Our suspense grew with each passing day in which we discovered yet another book, photograph, letter, postcard, or note of expenditure that shed more and more light not only on the life of Sava Popov, but also on the times and the places he lived and enlivened with his energetic and bright presence. That’s why we decided to set before the audience of this exhibition the very challenge that we ourselves faced in the beginning – by including only objects from the archive of Sava Popov. Unexpected and momentary connections cropped up among some of them, while for others, we never could find a logical trail. But every archive is made up of fragments and consequently resists attempts to compose a complete story. It is here where the adventure of the unlocking is contained, the deciphering, the immersion in the stories – and the eventual fitting together of some of the pieces of the puzzle, but never the whole thing.

Apart from everything else, Sava Popov’s archive, organized in his lifetime by the man himself, bears witness to a modest life and a great deal of accomplished work.

The Exhibition

The exhibition reconstructs the life and biography of Sava Popov through the books and documents he himself collected, arranged, and described. It is an attempt at unlocking his archive in a transparent way, by making the viewers witnesses to this process. To this end, the various exhibition modules have been separated into the form of a route of 27 steps: with original illustrations and cartoons from the newspaper Literaturen front (Literary Front), with issues of the newspaper Starshel (Hornet), with photographs of Sava Popov and his family from his childhood up to the last years of his life, with his books, letters, personal documents, diplomas, etc. Passing through this prearranged route, the exhibition’s visitors will see, through different prisms and perspectives, the individual life and work episodes in Sava Popov’s journey, in the context of the time.

What Is Left Behind

The exhibition and catalogue are accompanied by a unique digital archive (savapopov.humorhouse.bg), part of the site of the Museum of Humour and Satire in Gabrovo. Similar to other micro-archives, it will be able to be expanded and enriched over time with texts, images, and audio/video materials.