My “Visionary experience” - by Léa Sanchez--Battestini

For the third year at my university, we had to spend a semester abroad - that’s when I searched for some first information about Sofia. Everyone was saying it was a nice and cool place to live. I had heard very little about Bulgaria. However, I was attracted to this country. The capital Sofia seemed mystical and at the same time a very curious city, combining history and modernity in an eclectic, yet charming way. In the end, I went somewhere else but Bulgaria and Sofia stayed in a corner of my head. 

To complete my studies in social and political sciences, I had to do an internship. I was sure I wanted to be in the cultural sector, although I didn't know exactly what - I've always been interested in and passionate about the arts, especially music and contemporary dance. Then, Sofia became a place I thought about for my internship. I started looking at the cultural organizations in the country (which was not easy as I don’t read Bulgarian). And at some point, the Visionary website came out. I started reading the website, and looking at the projects and faces of the team (everyone seemed nice and happy). When I arrived, my first thoughts were turned toward whatever looked different: the architecture, the way the city was constructed, the mountain, and also the fact that I was at the back of the car with two strangers (and I was a stranger to them, too) who accepted to take me for several months with them. I would say something mysterious was emerging from this place I quite did not know anything about. Very quickly, Deedee and Ioan took me all around the city and what seemed mysterious became home.

My name is Lea and I am from France. I was part of the Visionary`s team in 2023 as a project coordinator and had an amazing experience full of emotions, life and professional experiences. Let me tell you about it!

There wasn't a single week or day that was the same as the previous one. In my role as project coordinator, my tasks were varied. I participated in all meetings, discussions and overall planning of Visionary's activities. Working with Deedee and Ioan was a real pleasure, and observing them communicate and complement each other's skills was an invaluable example of how every idea and opinion could be respected.

In 2023, Visionary had set projects mostly with foreign artists, which in any case made English the main language of communication. This gave me confidence and peace of mind, however, it was very nice that even if the meetings were entirely between Bulgarians, they were again conducted in English so that I could listen and participate fully. 


In the course of the internship, one of my main missions was the coordination of a joint project with French artist Yannick Martin in Marseille, France. The trust that the team placed in me to independently lead the communication in French - email correspondence, calls and online meetings - inspired and motivated me to represent Visionary in the best way to future French partners. It was no easy task, but I found and organized the gallery that hosted the “What the Heck” exhibition in July 2023. Through all the obstacles and small victories, my companion was Deedee, from whom I learned so much about negotiation and the power of communication. I am delighted that based on my research and efforts, Visionary found a suitable partner to host this project.

During my internship, 8 projects were realized all together: the Graffopost vol.10, the first 2 editions of the KOREN residency and the following it exhibitions in with Johannes Mundinger ("Notes on Bov") and Steffen Mischke ("7 Days à Bov"), "Brittle Bones", of course the exhibition "What the Heck?", and the murals "Propheticos", "Interconnections" and "SEASONS".



I learned so much in the months spent on the projects; it was very interesting to see the specificities of each project, in their preparation, the challenges, the changes, and the final results. Before working with Visionary I did not know anything about street art - basically, in my head, it came down to Banksy and the graffiti writers. That was it. I very much enjoyed discovering this subculture in a new way and observing the artistic processes and techniques of the different artists I had the opportunity to work with.

Although each of the projects was super interesting, I believe the cherry on top of the cake for me was "SEASONS". For one, maybe because it was the last project during my internship and I was so sad to have to leave - I was literally already feeling nostalgic for something that wasn't quite over yet. Also, because of the duration and the scale - 10 days, 400 square meters, 12 amazing artists from all over the world! It was really intense and exhausting not only because we were actively working all day, but also having a blast until late at night. And I absolutely loved the intense process! The project and the people I met will stay in my heart forever.


Visionary SEASONS photo MihaelaDraganova MAX res (44).jpg


During the internship, I was lucky enough to live in Visionary's studio - I had my own private room and shared the workspace and kitchen with the team. This gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Ioan and Deedee and we became close - as well as working together, our time was filled with exhibitions, concerts, art shows, cinema and music festivals. This is exactly why I would say my “Visionary experience” was deeply connected to the city's cultural scene and events. Deedee and Ioan did their best to integrate me into their lives and circle of friends. We attended the Sofia Live Fest in June, the biggest jazz festival "A to Jazz" in July, The Chemical Brothers concert in August, and several other artistic events and smaller concerts at various venues in Sofia. I was able to immerse myself in the essence of street art in Sofia past the new friendships I was making alongside Deedee and Ioan. They also often told me about Bulgarian history and traditions; they were also great teachers who helped me learn and acquire some basic Bulgarian language skills.


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I am immeasurably grateful for these invaluable months and experience gained with Visionary and the entire team. They are so hardworking, determined and put their whole soul into every project - I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to intern with them. I genuinely fell in love with the city's culture and art, had a heartfelt time and felt like I learned a lot not only about the work, but about myself.

This experience was a unique blast - from start to finish! Thanks for everything.

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Lea Sanchez-Battestini is from Toulouse, Southern France. After studying social and political sciences at Sciences Po Toulouse, she spent a few months in 2023. Lea interned as a project coordinator at the Visionary Foundation to complete her master's degree.

After this internship, she plans to continue working in street art and project management in the visual arts.


Text: Lea Sanchez-Battestini

Photos in the article: Mihaela Draganova