Belfast Exposed


3rd Aug - 16th Sep

Portrait of Humanity Vol. 5

In partnership with the British Journal of PhotographyBelfast Exposed is delighted to be hosting the British Journal of P...

Read More
1st Jun - 22nd Jul

Else Time | Ulster University MFA Photography Exhibition 2023

In this unique time that we find ourselves in, the things that once were so certain, are no longer so.Else Time is an 'ot...

Read More


21st May - 22nd May

Showing the faces of dementia with Alzheimer’s NI

Ahead of the Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference 2019 (ASAC19), Belfast Exposed was commissioned by Alzheimer’s NI to w...

Read More
4th May - 20th May

Coronation Generation 2023

Bringing together young people from across communities for Coronation GenerationIn April 2023, Belfast Exposed worked wit...

Read More

Futures Curator Award: Nothing But A Curtain

Gallery 2

2nd Feb 2023 to 18th Mar 2023

About The Exhibition

Belfast Exposed presents a  journey along the former Iron Curtain from Polish-born documentary photographer Zula Rabikowska, curated by Futures Curator Awardee Vera Hadzhiyska.

Running from Thursday 2nd of February to Saturday 18th March 2023, Rabikowska’s work is a multi-media project that details her 4,552 mile journey through what was once the Eastern Bloc in the summer of 2021, photographing & interviewing over 100 young people living in the shadow of the former Iron Curtain. Specifically, the work documents the experiences of women, non-binary, genderfluid and transgender people, born during the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Curator Vera Hadzhiyska worked with Rabikowska on the development of Nothing But A Curtain, which consists of photographs, moving image, archival images and documents, and installations, and now brings it to Belfast Exposed as part of our Futures Curator programme. Alongside her images, Rabikowska asked each participant to contribute a piece of fabric, which she stitched together whilst travelling. In this way, she created her own metaphorical version of the former political divide, which once separated the so-called “East” from “West.” In addition, the photographic work itself was created using a Soviet-made Kiev 80 camera, produced in a military factory in 1978 in Kiev. The metal shutter of the camera imprints a “curtain” of light within the images, echoing the way Soviet history has shaped gender identity.

This multidisciplinary approach seeks to challenge linear documentary story-telling conventions and to allow for a plurality of voices and experiences to be seen and heard.

'Vera Hadzhiyska shows great promise as an emerging curator and we are delighted to support her. Dedicated to her practice, Vera has an understanding of the many facets of a successful exhibition. Nothing But A Curtain, her work with Zula Rabikowska, provides a unique opportunity to tell the story of an often marginalised group of people living in the former Eastern Bloc. This exhibition also provides great synergy with Anthony Luvera's  She / Her / Hers / Herself - on display in Gallery I - which deals with the experiences of Sarah, a transgender individual living here in Northern Ireland'

- Deirdre Robb, Belfast Exposed


The Artists

Zula Rabikowska Vera Hadzhiyska
Artist Biography

Zula Rabikowska is a London based documentary photographer. Born in Poland and having grown up in the UK, her practice is influenced by her own experience of migration. She explores themes of displacement, gender identity and LGBTQI+ communities in her work, which combines multimedia, film and digital and analogue photography, and incorporate archival images and documents to challenge conventional visual story-telling norm.

Her work has been for the OPEN20 Moving Image, shown at Winchester Gallery and Enjoy Museum of Art Beijing in China. She has been nominated for the Budapest International Foto Awards, Moscow International Foto Award, Prix Levallois, BarTur Photo Award Leica Magazine Photojournalist of the Year. Her work has also been features in numerous publications, including the BBC, The Guardian, The Calvert Journal, The Culture Trip, Reckless Magazine, South West Collective, Photograd, She’s Got Wonder, Saigoneer, Café Babel, Stories from Poland, The First News, Coolura24, and


Vera Hadzhiyska is a Bulgarian multi-disciplinary artist and curator based in Portsmouth, England. Her practice is informed by the study of migration, cultural and national identity, history and collective memory. Her work begins autobiographically, tracing family narratives and shared traumas. Through the use of photography, archival documents, audio and video installations Hadzhiyska examines historical and political events in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe, their impact on people’s lives and identity.

Vera has an MA and a BA degree in Photography from the University of Portsmouth. She has exhibited internationally in Bulgaria, Greece, France and the United Kingdom. Her work has been published in Musée Magazine, Source Magazine, The Calvert Journal, Loupe Magazine, Photograd, Post Pravda Magazine, AND Then There Was, BalkanStories and Bulgarian Photography Now among others.


Exhibition Openning

2nd February 2023 | 18:00 | Belfast Exposed - Gallery II



Belfast Exposed is supported by funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.